DOHA, Qatar — Sean Johnson was into Year 4 as a player under coach Gregg Berhalter when he started wondering about the bounce passes.
They’d become almost folkloric among followers of the U.S. men’s national team. Whenever a stray ball would trickle out of play and into the vicinity of the USMNT coach, he’d delight fans with an aggressively sharp bounce pass, and sometimes even a behind-the-back pass, to one of his players.
Most assumed it was a quirk. “He's made it his little staple,” defender DeAndre Yedlin says. But Johnson was curious: Is there a reason for the bounce passes?