There was a real sense of intrigue heading into the U.S. men's national team's September friendlies. On the surface, they were somewhat typical: two games against overmatched opponents as tune-ups before bigger games to come - but there was significant subtext due to the return of Gregg Berhalter.
Leading up to his first camp back, there were questions about what this USMNT group would look like; would it be more of the same, a continuation of the 2022 World Cup cycle in many ways, or would Berhalter take anything from the changes we saw during his brief time away from the team?
What we ended up getting was a bit of both, and a solid two-game window to showcase it. A 3-0 win over Uzbekistan was followed up with a 4-0 win over Oman, with the two games showing the good and bad of Berhalter's USMNT.
The good news is that the bad preceded the good and that Berhalter and the USMNT improved as the camp wore on. A relatively tame attacking effort against Uzbekistan was followed by a dominant display against Oman that should leave USMNT fans excited about this team's potential in the attacking end of the field.
Opinion is still very much divided regarding Berhalter's second tenure but, now in the role, the coach made a strong second, first impression. Under his watch, several players, new and old, stood out and took steps forward as this group begins their run towards the 2026 World Cup.
GOAL breaks down the winners and losers from the September window.