USMNT’s Berhalter says wins over Mexico ahead of CONCACAF qualifiers a ‘big step for this younger player pool’

The United States men’s national team are heading into the CONCACAF qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar with significant momentum, as winners of both the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup and the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League over their rival Mexico over the summer. 

USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter sat down with Jim Rome on “The Jim Rome Show” on CBS Sports Network to discuss the culture he’s instilled, which has been instrumental to the team’s revitalization. His 26 wins are tied with Steve Sampson for the fifth-most by any USMNT coach, and it took Sampson 52 matches to reach that total while Berhalter did so in 35. 

As Berhalter’s team continues to grow comfortable with winning and pressure situations, he expects an even bigger leap come time for qualifiers. 

“I think the guys are getting used to winning and really understanding what these games look like,” Berhalter told Jim Rome. “That was the objective of this summer. We used two different groups for both tournaments, and we wanted to expose these guys to what CONCACAF competitive games look like. When you go down two minutes into the Nations League Final and you have to come back and then you go down again and you have to go back and then eventually you win in overtime. It shows a lot how these guys can stay calm in pressure-packed moments and handle any type of situation.”

You can listen to the full interview here:

On Aug. 1, Miles Robinson led the USMNT to a 1-0 victory over Mexico in the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup with a game-winning header in the 117th minute. The USMNT beat the Mexicans 3-2 in June’s Nations League Final. Those two wins marked the USMNT’s first over Mexico in a final since 2007. 

The United States found their stride with an unusually young lineup. Its starting 11 from the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup had an average age of 24 years, 236 days, the second youngest ever from the USMNT in a tournament final. The youngest: 24 years, 206 days — the average age of the USMNT in its 2021 Nations League victory. 

Berhalter believes his young squad will only improve from its success and experience this summer. 

“I think it’s a big step for this younger player pool,” Berhalter said. “We have one of the youngest national teams in the world right now. And for these guys to get used to winning — but also believing they could do it — is really important. Our next step now was World Cup qualifying in the fall. There’s 14 games in the World Cup qualifiers, it’s going to be 14 finals. I think as a coaching staff, the one thing we’re pleased with is these guys have been in this situation before, and we’re ready to go, ready to handle it.” 

The USMNT will begin their qualifying campaign at El Salvador on Thursday, Sept. 2, at 10 p.m. ET on Paramount+, your home for up to 79 games (including away games for the USMNT) on its platform. Below you’ll find the complete qualifying schedule for the United States.

Thursday, Sept. 2 (Matchday 1)

  • El Salvador vs. United States, 10 p.m. ET (Paramount+)  

Sunday, Sept. 5 (Matchday 2)

  • United States vs. Canada, 8 p.m. ET

Wednesday, Sept. 8 (Matchday 3)

  • Honduras vs. United States, 10 p.m. ET (Paramount+)

Thursday, Oct. 7 (Matchday 4)

  • United States vs. Jamaica, 7:30 p.m. ET

Sunday, Oct. 10 (Matchday 5)

  • Panama vs. United States, 9 p.m. ET (Paramount+

Wednesday, Oct. 13 (Matchday 6)

  • United States vs. Costa Rica, 7 p.m. ET

Nov. 11-13 (Matchday 7)

Nov. 14-16 (Matchday 8)

Thursday, Jan. 27 (Matchday 9)

  • United States vs. El Salvador

Sunday, Jan. 30 (Matchday 10)

Wednesday, Feb. 2 (Matchday 11)

  • United States vs. Honduras

Thursday, March 24 (Matchday 12)

  • Mexico vs. United States 

Sunday, March 27 (Matchday 13)

Wednesday, March 30 (Matchday 14)

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