FOOTBALL Preview: Gregg Berhalter era starts for U.S. Soccer vs. Panama in Arizona

U.S. National Team coach Gregg Berhalter (Photo: U.S. Soccer)

The U.S. men’s National Team hit a 30-year low by failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and in the process hired and released Jurgen Klinsmann, Bruce Arena and Dave Sarachan as coaches.

Now starts the Gregg Berhalter Era. Now 45, he was a defender for the U.S. from 1994-2006, appearing in 44 games. He has gone on to coaching success with the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer, getting to the MLS Cup Final in 2015, but losing to Portland, 2-1.

Now he inherits a United States team that has young talent, but needs direction and organization. The first game will be on Sunday against Panama at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona at 8 p.m. on ESPN2, Unimas and UDN.

Aside from veteran midfielder Michael Bradley (142 caps) and striker Gyasi Zardes (40), the most experienced player is midfielder Paul Arriola with just 17 appearances for the U.S. Eleven players on the 23-man roster have no National Team appearances.

Panama was one of the teams that the U.S. could beat in the CONCACAF final qualifying round for the 2018 World Cup. The teams drew, 1-1, in Panama City on 28 March 2017 and then the U.S. won, 4-0, in Orlando on 6 October. Panama qualified for the World Cup, but Los Canaleros lost all three games in Russia and were eliminated after the Group stage.

After Sunday’s tilt with Panama, the U.S. will play Costa Rica on 2 February in San Jose, California at 3:30 p.m. Eastern time.

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