Ethan Horvath will start in goal for the United States men’s national team on Tuesday against Oman, head coach Gregg Berhalter said at a press conference at Allianz Field in Saint Paul, Minn. After naming ten of his eleven starters ahead of last week’s friendly against Uzbekistan, Berhalter stopped short of naming his lineup aside from Horvath.
“Ethan’s gonna play in goal tomorrow,” Berhalter said. “That’s pretty clear. We’re gonna mix up some players, but it will be a very similar lineup to what we saw last time.”
The United States played to a 3-0 win over Uzbekistan in a friendly on Saturday, a scoreline that flattered the hosts as they struggled to consistently break lines and create chances in front of goal in the first game of Berhalter’s second cycle at the helm.
There has been some minor adjustment to the roster since that match in St. Louis, as goalkeeper Matt Turner and defender Joe Scally departed, both for family reasons. They were replaced on the roster by Inter Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender and New England Revolution left back DeJuan Jones, who was already in Minnesota thanks to the Revolution’s 1-1 draw against Minnesota United at Allianz Field on Saturday. Jones played all 90 minutes of that match.
Tillman, Cremaschi in the picture
Although he stopped short of naming a lineup, Berhalter did single out midfielder Malik Tillman for praise when asked how the new PSV signing fits into his plans.
“I think he’s a fantastic player, I really do,” Berhalter said. “That’s why we were so keen to have him commit to the United States a couple years ago. He’s a dynamic player, sees the game ahead of time. He can speed up the game, make final actions. He’s calm in the penalty box. He’s got a lot of strong attributes. For us, it’s, okay: how does he take all those qualities to the next level when he gets opportunities? I think the other day, he did a good job. He’ll get an opportunity tomorrow, so we’ll see how he can do, but the coaches are high on him.”
Berhalter added separately that he hopes to give Miami midfielder Benjamin Cremaschi a senior national team debut off the bench on Tuesday, depending on game state and what substitutions prove necessary throughout the match. Cremaschi is eligible for both the United States and Argentina, and has seen his stock soar in the wake of Lionel Messi joining the 18-year-old’s boyhood Inter Miami this summer.
“He fits in really well, Benja,” Berhalter said. “He’s a great kid. He learns really quickly, adapting well to the speed of the game. It’s been great having him in camp. He’s not going to start the game. We’d love to get him a debut; we just have to see how the substitutions work. You have six subs in the game, so it becomes challenging to get everybody on the field even though you’d like to.”
What Miami’s Ben Cremaschi brings to the USMNT
The matchup vs. Oman
Berhalter also addressed the USMNT’s struggles to create against Uzbekistan, citing the opposition’s low defensive block as preventing clear passing lanes into the area. While Oman is ranked just above Uzbekistan in the current FIFA ratings (73 and 74, respectively), Berhalter projected a different kind of challenge ahead of Tuesday’s match.
“Oman is completely different than Uzbekistan,” Berhalter said. “Uzbekistan was a 5-3-1, at times a 5-2-3, but a very difficult block to break down. Defending with four players on the wing, very compact. Oman has played a 4-4-2 diamond and they have a very, very dynamic counterattack. Part of the emphasis in this camp was finishing attacks against the low block of Uzbekistan, and now preventing transitions against Oman.”
Berhalter specifically praised Oman for a tough match it gave Germany last fall ahead of the 2022 World Cup. In the final days before the tournament, Germany struggled to pull off a 1-0 win with an 80th minute goal despite largely playing a first-choice lineup. Oman managed to take seven shots — although none were on-target — despite seeing just 28% of possession, with the majority of chances coming through Salaah Al-Yahyaei at the top of midfield.
Oman has played seven games in 2023, reaching the final of the Gulf Cup with a campaign that included a 2-1 win over a Saudi Arabia side that won its World Cup opener against eventual champion Argentina. Oman notched a 2-1 win over Palestine on Wednesday in a match played at their national stadium in the capital city, Muscat.
“It’s going to be a great test for us,” Berhalter said. “We watched the game against Germany where Germany won 1-0, but (Oman) absolutely battered Germany with their transition moments. They were all over (Germany) in that game, so it’s gonna be important for us.”
A second cycle under Gregg Berhalter with higher expectations means USMNT must evolve
(Photo: John Dorton/ISI Photos/Getty Images for USSF)