Gregg Berhalter labels Haji Wright’s performance against El Salvador as ‘unlucky’

With five months until the 2022 World Cup, USMNT players are fighting for their chance to make the 26-player roster. And Tuesday’s match against El Salvador served Haji Wright the opportunity to do just that. 

As the American side continues with an undefined number nine, head coach Gregg Berhalter called on the Antalyaspor striker this time to step up for the role. He made his debut in the starting 11, leading the attack alongside Tim Weah and Christian Pulisic, in a game Berhalter labeled as ‘an important part of the evaluation process.’

But Wright may not be up for the challenge quite yet, after the player was substituted at half-time when the US trailed 1-0 to El Salvador. He left the field having had just one sight of goal.

“It’s always difficult when players get an opportunity and don’t fully capitalize on it. It’s not nice for a coach, it’s not nice for the player, it’s not nice for the group,” Berhalter told reporters following the match. “We’re all rooting for Haji to be a force. We purposely played more direct in the first half, because we thought he could be the force that would unsettle them. And it just wasn’t his night tonight.”

While his performance doesn’t rule out Wright’s future involvement with the team, it’s looking more likely that Jesus Ferreira will be the one starting for the United States in Qatar.