US Soccer

Cristian Roldan: Everyone on United States national team buying into Gregg Berhalter’s new system

Cristian Roldan USMNT vs. Panama 2019-01-31

Cristian Roldan’s first match under new United States national team manager Gregg Berhalter could not have gone any better.


The Seattle Sounders midfielder started and played all 90 minutes in a 3-0 friendly win over Panama on Sunday at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. He finished with 92 percent passing, eight recoveries and two interceptions and was instrumental as a two-way player in Berhalter’s new game philosophy, one that is tailor-made for Roldan’s style of play.


“The energy has been fantastic since Day 1,” said Roldan on Wednesday ahead of the United States’ final friendly against Costa Rica on Saturday at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, Calif. “Everybody has bought into the system that we have been implementing into the practice and our games.”

Cristian Roldan: Everyone on United States national team buying into Gregg Berhalter’s new system -

Berhalter’s first foray onto the international scene was a masterclass in planning and execution, a systemic approach nearly identical to what Pep Guardiola employs with Manchester City. Even though the U.S. was without several of its biggest stars — European-based players Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, et al — in an all-MLS camp, Berhalter planted seeds that came to life beautifully in his first attempt at what will be a long process of qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Cristian Roldan: Everyone on United States national team buying into Gregg Berhalter’s new system -



Cristian Roldan shoots against Panama in Sunday’s 3-0 win | USA Today Sports

“It’s a fresh new start for almost everybody,” said Roldan. “Everybody is expected to showcase what they have. If we’re able to buy into the system and play our parts, our team is just going to get better. We understand it’s a process and not everybody will get it from the get-go, but we’re being judged by that.”


Getting buy-in from players was never something with which Berhalter struggled while managing Swedish club Hammarby IF and most recently with MLS side Columbus Crew SC. He led Crew SC to tremendous success in his five seasons at the helm and is strongly considered one of this country’s brightest soccer minds. He makes the game simple, and his clear directives allow players in his system to maximize their potentials while fulfilling the team’s collective objective.


“Columbus was well-organized, they understood the other team quite well and I think they prepared for [the Sounders] specifically quite well,” Roldan said of Berhalter’s time with Crew SC. “I can see now why Columbus was so prepared, but at the same time, we as players need to buy in to what he’s saying. If he is telling us one thing and we don’t do it, then we’re going to be in a bad spot because he understands the game so well.”

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