United States men’s national team manager Gregg Berhalter said that the U.S. Soccer Federation is attempting to schedule one more match for his side before the end of the year.
“We’re trying to play in December, hopefully that gets done,” said Berhalter. “But [Monday’s match] will certainly be the last time this group is together this year. And anytime we’re together, what we’re stressing on them is we want to compete to win games.
“So we’re out on the field against a CONCACAF opponent and we want to win the game, and that’s what it comes down to. I think we want to end this experience with the group on a high note.”
Berhalter indicated that he wouldn’t engage in much squad rotation from the team that tied Wales 0-0 last Thursday. Berhalter said that the U.S. would only have two more occasions — the March international window and the CONCACAF Nations League finals in June — to bring his first choice side together prior to the start of World Cup qualifying next September.
For that reason, the emphasis on Monday will be on establishing chemistry rather than giving more of the players on the current roster a look.
“We’re basically going to have four more games together after this game, and that’s a small number,” said Berhalter. “For us, it’s crucial that we get guys playing together, we get guys comfortable with each other.”
Berhalter did reveal some details about his plans against Panama. He said Boavista right-back Reggie Cannon would start the match, and that he would go with a more traditional central striker on Monday, as opposed to the false nine that was used against Wales.
That could pave the way for one of Nicholas Gioacchini or Sebastian Soto to get extended minutes, though Berhalter noted that there has been an adaptation period in what is the first senior national team camp for both players.
“They’re doing okay,” Berhalter said about Gioacchini and Soto. “I think that the level has jumped a little bit and these are guys that are getting used to it. I think they strike a ball really well. Sebastian’s movement is good behind the line and Nicholas is a little bit more powerful.
“So I think they both have some good attributes and now it’s about them just getting used to what we’re doing and getting to the speed of this level, because it is a different speed. I’m sure there’ll be a chance for those guys.”