USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter has heaped praise on the Bundesliga contingent in his squad as he builds towards the Gold Cup on home turf this summer.
The 45-year-old, who was appointed in December 2018, can select from as many as 12 players currently in Germany's top flight (Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, John Brooks, Josh Sargent, Bobby Wood, Alfredo Morales, Fabian Johnson, Timothy Chandler, Sebastian Soto, Timothy Tillman and Haji Wright), and is delighted to have so many options at his disposal.
"It's great [having so many Americans in the Bundesliga]," he said as a guest on Fox Sports on Saturday. "The Bundesliga's a very athletic league, it's a very high tempo league so the players are forced to make decisions very quickly. It's been fun watching our guys. It's been great following them."
Berhalter, who himself spent much of his playing career in Germany at Energie Cottbus and 1860 Munich, singled out Wolfsburg's Brooks for particular praise: "He's taken more of a leadership role in the defence, which I love to see. You can see him gesturing to his team-mates and talking to them all game. I really like that. He's working on things like defending in the penalty box. Overall he's an excellent passer and he can certainly play a part in what we're doing."
What Berhalter is doing involves rebuilding the US national team after their failure to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and he has so far guided his charges to friendly wins over Panama, Costa Rica and Ecuador, as well as a draw with Chile.
"He's had a disruptive season because he's played in so many different positions," Berhalter said. "But I think that also shows how important he is for the team and what he means to the coach, if he's willing to put him in all these different positions. I really like Weston, I think he brings a lot to the game and his skill set means he can play in the attacking position as a No.10, but also more defensively as a No.8 in a 4-2-2-2 formation."
"We have to remember he's only 18 years old. How many players are playing in the Bundesliga right now at 18? Not many. He's got a bright future ahead of him. I wish he was playing more, but when I look at him, he has quality. It's exciting for US soccer fans and for me as a coach to see how he's going to develop. He's broken into the Bremen team at 18. He's played and he's scored twice, so you can make a case that this guy's got enough quality. And if he can fit into our system [in the national team] then he deserves to be there."