KANSAS CITY, Kansas.- United States Manager Gregg Berhalter spoke to the media following Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Panama in Kansas City, a victory that secured first place in Group D of the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup for the U.S. and sets up a quarterfinal clash with Curacao in Philadelphia on Sunday.
After making 11 changes to the starting lineup, Berhalter was asked about opportunities for playing time in the knockout rounds.
“I think everyone helped themselves tonight,” Berhalter said. “When you think about the conditions of this game, the very physical Panama team, the very warm conditions as well… I think the guys showed great determination to get this result.”
The focus for the U.S. Manager then shifted to his quarterfinal opposition.
“First off, with [U.S. General Manager] Earnie [Stewart] being from Holland, and having played in Holland before, I know that there’s a very close connection between the Dutch and Curacao, and a lot of these Curacao players have played there before. This is a team that we can’t take lightly. I know that for sure.”
“We’re going to go in to this thing fully prepared,” the coach continued. “We were watching film of them today before our game. They have talent, plain and simple. They can score goals.”
Berhalter sees the Curacao team as one of the great stories of the tournament.
“To me, it’s a bit of a Cinderella story,” he said. “They’ve done a fantastic job to get through their group. It’s really what makes the Gold Cup special, having teams like that doing special things, seeing their fans up in the stands the other night… it reminds you that this is what soccer can do for a country.”
“And again,” Berhalter said, “we’re not taking them lightly. We know it’s going to be a tough game, and we have our sights set on advancing to the next round.”