Three goals. 26 shots. 76% ball possession with 90% pass accuracy. Zero shots on target allowed from the opposite team. These are the states from the United States Men’s National Team’s victory over Trinidad and Tobago Thursday night, and if they look impressive, it’s because they are.
However, USMNT fans are still calling for coach Gregg Berhalter‘s head after finding the performance ineffective and unimpressive.
The trouble comes with the timing of the USMNT’s goals. While the team was able to put three away — including two absolute stunners — the first goal didn’t arrive until the 82nd minute of the match. Given that Trinidad and Tobago were playing with 10 men after Noah Powder’s red card in the 37th minute, that’s not great. One would expect a team like the USMNT to find its way through sooner.
Was it as bad as the fans and press are making it out to be? Probably not. There were some real high points Thursday night mixed in with all the negativity. Here are the key takeaways from the USMNT’s win in Austin, Texas:
Antonee Robinson wants to be seen. Poor Robinson had a rough weekend in the Premier League before arriving to the USMNT camp. He scored an embarrassing own goal against Aston Villa and was caught liking social media posts making fun of him.
Robinson turned that misfortune into a masterful performance against Trinidad and Tobago. He was everywhere, roaming much farther forward than he traditionally does, and set up one goal before scoring an absolute scorcher of his own.
Americans are short on lock-pickers. Here’s the deal with matches in CONCACAF: Teams like Trinidad and Tobago are going to play a low block. It’s a tried-and-true tactic used by underdog teams around the globe; just look at how Everton play against, say, Brighton. Low blocks aren’t exactly thrilling — they basically consist of 11 players locking arms Red Rover style in front of their own goal — but they work. The USMNT needs to find ways to break them down.
The USMNT’s two creative lynchpins, Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah, were absent from this match due to injury, and the team missed them dearly. Gio Reyna, Folarin Balogun and Malik Tillman simply weren’t able to “pick the lock” that Trinidad and Tobago set for them. It took super sub Ricardo Pepi to finally break the deadlock late in the second half.
Fans are not ready to accept Gregg Berhalter. When Berhalter was brought back to lead the USMNT into its home World Cup in 2026, fans were livid. Many believed his reappointment was a sign that the U.S. Soccer Federation was more interested in a steady hand than a true innovator.
Games like this one show just how deeply USMNT fans feel that frustration. Yes, the team should’ve scored sooner. Yes, Berhalter could’ve subbed Pepi on earlier as soon as he saw Tillman struggling, but Berhalter’s sins Thursday night don’t come close to matching the vitriol he’s receiving.
Can he really continue as coach of the USMNT when the majority of the nation wants him gone? It’s a story that looks like it’ll haunt the team’s entire World Cup journey.