Berhalter wants ‘intense’ US in must-win Canada clash

MIAMI (AFP) – United States (US) coach Gregg Berhalter believes increased intensity can help his struggling team bounce back against Canada in their crucial CONCACAF Nations League clash in Florida.

Berhalter’s side take on the Canadians at Orlando’s Exploria Stadium later in the day needing a victory to give them any chance of being able to progress into the final four of the inaugural tournament.

The must-win clash comes one month after Canada stunned the US 2-0 in Toronto, their first victory over the Americans since 1985.

That result left Canada on the brink of qualification from Group A, while simultaneously triggering more soul-searching across US soccer, still trying to rebuild after its shock failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

Berhalter’s preparations this week have been hit by injuries to Chelsea star Christian Pulisic and veteran midfielder Michael Bradley, depriving the US of vital creativity and experience.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Berhalter blamed a lack of intensity for last month’s loss to Canada – something he has sought to rectify this week.

“One of our observations after the game in Toronto is that when we’re playing these games away from home, the opponent is playing these games like it’s the biggest game of their lives,” Berhalter said.

“Canada hadn’t beaten us in 34 years and was playing like that. For us to be successful at away venues we need to match that intensity, or exceed that intensity. And that’s been a consistent message in this camp.”