Beware Bale, warns US coach Berhalter

United States coach Gregg Berhalter warned his players to beware Wales captain Gareth Bale on Wednesday as he revealed his 26-man squad for the World Cup.

The US face Wales on November 21 in their opening Group B game in Doha, with former Real Madrid star Bale looming large in Berhalter's thoughts.

Bale provided a timely reminder of his enduring goal-scoring threat last Saturday, nodding in an opportunistic headed equalizer deep into stoppage time to help set up Los Angeles FC's MLS Cup victory.

Speaking after revealing his World Cup squad at a ceremony in New York on Wednesday, Berhalter said Bale's knack of rising to the big occasion was cause for concern.

"One of the things that's scary about Gareth Bale is that he can do things like that," Berhalter said of Bale's game-saving MLS Cup goal, noting that the Welshman had outjumped Philadelphia's 6ft 6in defender Jack Elliott to score.

"He dunked on him. He has that explosiveness, that free-kick and he can serve a ball," Berhalter said.

"You have to be aware of him at any moment and if he doesn't start the game, he comes on and he'll worry you even more.

"Because you don't have the chance to tire him out – he comes in fresh. He's a dangerous player."

Several selections in Berhalter's World Cup squad have been influenced by the fact that the USA face both Wales and England in Group B along with Iran.

Berhalter said England-based players such as Norwich's Josh Sargent and Fulham's Tim Ream were chosen due to their familiarity with the physicality of British football.

Sargent, who has scored eight goals in 18 games for Norwich in the English Championship this season, was included among a contingent of forwards which had no place for the 19-year-old striker Ricardo Pepi.

Pepi, who plays in Holland for FC Groningen, impressed during qualifiers with three goals in wins over Honduras and Jamaica, and Berhalter admitted leaving out the teenager had been a hard call.

"In the case of Ricardo that was a really difficult conversation that I had to have with him," Berhalter said.

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