U.S. need to build on France performance vs. Brazil - Dave Sarachan
U.S. caretaker manager Dave Sarachan said that when it comes to Friday's friendly against Brazil, he is looking for his side to build on what it did well in drawing with eventual World Cup champions France last June.
In that match, the U.S. hung tough defensively and was opportunistic in attack in a 1-1 draw with Les Bleus.
Sarachan said he would like to see his team be better with the ball, which will be no easy task against the Selecao.
"When you're playing at home, which we are -- I'm sure there will be a few Brazilians in the stands [Friday] -- the idea is to have the right balance between having to defend and having the ball and doing well in the attacking side of things," he said at Thursday's news conference. "The game will sort of give us all the answers to that.
"We know that Brazil has weapons and likely may have more possession. What I would like to see is a team that has confidence to play and take chances, take risks against a team that can punish you if you don't do a good job of that.
"Against France, when you play against teams that are aggressive, you're going to have to do a lot of defending and be compact and all of that, but I think the messaging with our guys is still do that but when we have [the] ball don't be afraid."
The U.S. will take on Brazil without midfielder Christian Pulisic, who remained in Germany after picking up a muscle injury that forced him to miss Borussia Dortmund's 0-0 draw with Hannover back on Aug. 31.
Pulisic has played just once for the U.S. since it was eliminated from qualifying for the 2018 World Cup last October, and when asked if he was concerned about there being any feelings of disconnect between Pulisic and the players who have come into the program since that time, Sarachan said he did not think that would be the case.
"We haven't had [Pulisic] as much as we would like, he is injured, and there's nothing we can do about that," Sarachan said. "I know pretty much for the most part, these guys are friends, and they speak a lot, and talk a lot. I don't' think there's a disconnect.
"As a coach, you'd like to have all the players available, and so from our standpoint not having him here is disappointing, but I think the next opportunity [with the national team where] he's part of things, I think he'll jump right in and we won't feel he's been disconnected from the group. I think it's still a close-knit group of guys with his peers."
The players that have been regulars in camps under Sarachan, such as Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie and the New York Red Bulls' Tyler Adams, have not looked overawed during matches.
There have been ups and downs, but Sarachan said he likes what he has seen.
"The good thing about youth in some ways is that they approach it without a lot of fear," Sarachan said. "Sure, we showed some nervy moments in the opening [parts of the] game against France, but they settled in and just sort of plowed through it and competed.
"What I've tried to do is build comfort and a safe zone so they can be themselves. I think when you watch the product, you see a group that's competitive and hopefully playing without fear. I think that part has gone well and I've been pleased about that."
Yet Sarachan is mindful of the challenge that awaits his side on Friday.
"They're deep, they have a history, they have a culture that develops players at such a high level," he said about Brazil. "You look at the caps, the clubs, the ages and all the rest, at the end of the day, pound for pound they are as good as any soccer playing country on the planet.
"When you measure up against quality it's a challenge, and you have to be at the top of your game. Is it intimidating for guys? Maybe for some, when you play Brazil as opposed to another country.
"But when we played France in France for their send-off game, that's an environment that is hard to replicate and our guys handled that pretty well. We'll see when they step on the field, but they're awfully good."