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US Men's National Team wins two friendly matches as Gregg Berhalter takes charge again

The United States Men's National Team won both of its matches in the September 2023 international break as Gregg Berhalter returned to the head coaching role.

With most national teams from Europe, Africa, and South America participating in tournament qualifying matches, the USMNT scheduled friendlies against Uzbekistan and Oman as they prepare for the Asian Cup in January.

The US beat Uzbekistan 3-0 and Oman 4-0, scoring within the first 15 minutes of both matches.

We'll explore the key takeaways from the American performances over the September international break before tougher tests against Germany and Ghana next month.

Berhalter returns for a goal fest

The main trend in Berhalter's first spell as USMNT head coach was dominating possession without scoring many goals.

His team welcomed him back with seven goals scored and none allowed in two games. USMNT teams coached by Berhalter had not outscored opponents 7-0 or better over two games since January 2021.

USMNT fans and pundits wanted to see more goals scored, especially after interim head coach BJ Callaghan led the team to consecutive 6-0 victories against St. Kitts and Nevis and Trinidad and Tobago before Berhalter returned this summer.

Oman and Uzbekistan are 73rd and 74th respectively in the FIFA World Rankings, well ahead of Trinidad and Tobago (102nd) and St. Kitts and Nevis (145th).

If Berhalter can strike a balance between his preference of pinning opponents in their defensive half with Callaghan's free-flowing attacking philosophy, his second spell could be a big improvement upon his first.

Left-back Lund looks a solid backup

For a couple of years now, the USMNT has searched for a quality player to backup the team's undisputed starting left-back, Antonee Robinson.

They may have found their man in 21-year-old dual-national Kristoffer Lund.

Lund, who was also eligible to play for Denmark, received a 10-minute cameo off the bench against Uzbekistan and then played the full 90 minutes against Oman.

While he did not defend as aggressively as Robinson, Lund looked comfortable moving the ball in Berhalter's possession-dominant system and he created two scoring chances for his teammates in the Oman match.

The fact Oman players dribbled past him on two occasions may cause minor concern against better teams, but the defensive side of the game often comes second for young full-backs.

If he gets a call-up for October's friendlies against Germany and Ghana, it bears watching to see if he gets playing time and how he performs against two teams who regularly qualify for the World Cup.

Mixed results for Balogun

Striker Folarin Balogun came away with one goal in 90 minutes of play between the two matches - he was substituted out at halftime of both matches.

He opened the scoring in the 13th minute against Oman when the rebound from right back Sergino Dest's shot landed right in front of him.

The fact he played just 90 of 180 possible minutes will make his new club, AS Monaco, happy as the 22-year-old continues to settle in after his transfer from Arsenal in late August.

It can be argued that a spectacular goal would have made USMNT fans more optimistic about their new striker, but being in the right place at the right time is as important a skill for a goalscorer as their shooting ability.

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