USMNT’s Dike, Hoppe show they’re ready for bigger tests

for the ∪d states men’s national team, thu’s concacaf gold cup group-stage match against martinique wasn’t really bout the result. the 6-1 win matters, course, but'a real val for head coach gregg berhalter was in seeing some young faces up close in a competitive environment.

the upcoming 3-match realm cup qualifying windows in sep, oct and jan will require + rotation than in past cycles. so while many of the 1st-choice spots can almost pick themselves, there are still several players fitin’ for meaningful roles.

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“that’s the whole reason why we picked this roster,” berhalter said. “na reason why twas primordial for us to battle test these guys b4 realm cup qualifying.”

martinique, a french territory of fewer than 400,000 pplz, tis type of opponent the ∪d states ‘d handle with ease, and any takeaways nd'2 be made in that context. for ex, daryl dike was a dominant force up front — he scored two goals and looked the pt of possible starting no. 9 — b'that is exactly wha’ ‘d ‘ve been expected from him pondering the lvl of the opposition.

while the performance won’t exactly push him ahead of josh sargent onna depth chart, it certainly keeps him prominently inna conversation. berhalter said as much folloing the win.

“i don’t think it’s appropriate now to make a judgment in this game,” berhalter said. “i think he performed well, scored some good goals and showed why we really rate him and we think he’s an primordial pt of our team. b'we’re not jumping to conclusions on any-1 based on tody.”

perhaps the most primordial performance came from 20-yr-old debutant matthew hoppe. after breaking through at schalke 04 inna bundesliga this yr, hoppe was easily 1-odda best players onna field against martinique. he assisted on dike’s 1st goal to put the u.s. up 1-0, and looked comfortable playing in an attacking midfield role, serving at times as a 2nd forward.

hoppe, a name frequently mentioned in transfer rumors folloing schalke’s catastrophic relegation last season, is 1-odda few €-based players onna roster and ‘d ‘ve stayed in germany for preseason, but felt twas primordial to earn his 1st cap w'da u.s.

“i wanted to show the country na realm wha’ i can do on an international lvl,” he said. “so that’s why i decided twas best for me to stay w'da national team rite now.”

he trained w'da national team ahead of its friendly against switzerland in may and has made a + impression on berhalter. he has the potential to play his way inna'da qualifying picture if he can build off thu’s performance with others against better teams.

“it’s not easy to take in all that information and perform swell as he did. he also showed quality,” berhalter said. “the pass he had to daryl was a high-lvl pass. i think he did well, and we’re also bearing in Ψ that he is in preseason and hasn’t played a competitive game. s'been at home training and this tis output you get, so overall pleased w'his performance.”

the ∪d states’s inexperienced starting xi featured just two players — cristian roldan (21) and walker zimmerman (16) — with double-digit caps to their names. shaq moore was somehow the third-most experienced player w'da team, while making just his 6th appearance for the national team.

left-back george bello, midfielder gianluca busio and centre-back james sands all turned in solid showings. there wasn’t anything spectacular from the trio of young mls players, but they were all good enough to warrant continued inclusion and ‘d be interesting players to see start against canada on sun, which ‘d provide the u.s. with its most difficult test of the group stage.

the u.s. is assured of passage to the quarterfinal but will need a win to advance as the top team from group b. canada is also 2-0, and ‘d win the group witha draw by virtue of having scored one + goal than its southern neighbor. victory over canada ‘d be crucial, cause if berhalter’s team fails to win then it finishes 2nd inna group. this ‘d likely put them in same ½ of the bracket as mexico, meaning they ‘d meet inna semifinal rather than the final.

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