After an eight year hiatus, the USMNT returned to the World Cup. It was a fun journey that left fans hopeful for the 2026 tournament. There is one person from this team that will return to San Jose with plenty of lessons learned, Luchi Gonzalez.
The assistant coach to Gregg Berhalter, Luchi witnessed firsthand what it takes to manage at the highest of levels. Quakes’ fans will be hoping that he can bring some of those lessons to a team that needs all the help it can get.
Tactically, there are a few things that Luchi can implement, despite Berhalter’s tactics being rather dry. The team’s defense, until the last game, was impressive, shutting down a potent English side. While the USMNT center backs never really impressed with their passing, just about every attack started from the back.
Another aspect of this USMNT side that Luchi could bring is their excellent culture. This was a unified side that managed to blend veterans with exciting youth prospects. Vibes are an important part of any locker room, especially a young one, so the efforts to build them up have to start now.
Now that the World Cup is finished for Luchi, it’s time for him to mold this Quakes side into his own. With such a positive experience with the USMNT, Luchi should definitely incorporate some of the lessons learned into his Quakes side.
Coming into the World Cup, there were concerns about the defensive state of the USMNT. However, Berhalter was able to find a defensive scheme that covered most of the concerns.
For what seems like an eternity, the Quakes have had the worst defense in MLS. No matter the money or draft picks spent, the front office has yet to find a solution. Multiple managers have attempted to crack the code, but every effort has blown up in their faces.
Nathan and Rodrigues are supposed to be the club’s future defensive pairing. Both are tough and passionate defenders who lack efficient passing. It will be up to Luchi to figure out how to play these two together.
Berhalter and his staff faced similar issues entering this World Cup, with many seeing the backline as a weakness. Despite a few hiccups, there is plenty for Luchi to pick up on.
To combat some of the superior sides that they would face, Berhalter had the team play a cautious and defensive game. Every midfielder dropped back to fill holes in the backline, with Tyler Adams thriving in this role. This would ease pressure for the weaker defensive pairings.
Although the center back pairings played were mediocre passers, building out the back is a great way to bolster the defense. Neither Tim Ream nor Walker Zimmerman are excellent ball handlers, but they were still able to bring the ball out of the back. If Luchi is able to get the Brazilian defenders to buy into roles like that, it will be a positive step for both club and player.
To the surprise of many, the defensive scheme that Berhaltrer and Luchi cooked up helped the USMNT make it out of the group stage. Now, Quakes fans will have to hope that he can implement a system to save their backline.
Contrary to a lot of other MLS bottomfeeders, the Quakes have never had a bad culture. Luchi is lucky to be walking into a locker room that is united, but he must continue building up the good vibes.
Thanks to the image set by Wondo and Salinas, this team has a positive culture that puts player development over everything. There doesn’t seem to be one strong leader, rather a collective sense of leadership and responsibility. No matter how tough the seasons have been, no player has gone out of their way to throw blame anyone’s way publicly.
Since the appointment of Chris Leitch, the Quakes have moved towards a youth movement. By tapping into the Bay Area’s rich soccer talent, they have built a pipeline of exciting prospects. However, the front office has yet to build a team that has the veteran players necessary.
Luchi could mold a Quakes’ player into a leader like Tyler Adams. This would give the side a true presence of a captain. One who is able to replace Wondo in being the team’s representative both on and off the pitch would do wonders for the locker room.
The USMNT was a young squad that was perfectly balanced by the right veterans. Along with the front office, Luchi will have a chance to find the proper balance. As the team begins their offseason transfers, they should aim towards modeling the side after the balance of the USMNT.
If there was one example that the Quakes should follow, the USMNT is a great one. Given their player balance and leadership, they could guide the Quakes this offseason.
While the World Cup will still continue for almost two more weeks, Luchi’s work starts now. He will have to rebuild a club that has consistently flopped. Armed with experience at the highest level, Luchi has a chance to build something truly exciting in the south Bay.
Featured image: Getty