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USMNT to face Japan, Saudi Arabia in final World Cup tune-ups

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The U.S. men’s national team will travel to Europe for its final two preparation matches ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, facing off against two fellow World Cup qualified nations.

Gregg Berhalter’s side will square off with Japan and Saudi Arabia in a pair of friendlies this September, U.S. Soccer announced Tuesday. The USMNT will take on Japan on Sept. 23 at a location yet to be determined before facing Saudi Arabia in Murcia, Spain on Sept. 27.

Both Japan and Saudi Arabia will join the USMNT in Qatar this November with Japan being paired in Group E and Saudi Arabia heading to Group C.

“We are pleased to have the opportunity to measure ourselves against fellow World Cup participants,” USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter said. “Together with the two games in June against Morocco and Uruguay, we will have experienced a great diversity of styles and quality opponents to help us prepare for what lies ahead at the World Cup in November.”

Japan is managed by Hajime Moriyasu and completed AFC World Cup Qualifying with a 15-2-1 record, including an unbeaten 8-0-0 mark with a +44 goal differential in its Second Round Group. Liverpool’s Takumi Minamino and Vissel Kobe’s Yuya Osako headlines the Japanese squad after scoring 10 goals apiece in qualifying.

It will be the USMNT’s first showdown with Japan since a 3-2 friendly win in 2006.

Saudi Arabia finished first in both of its second and third round qualifying groups with a combined 13-1-4 record, having edged Japan in the Group B standings. It will mark the seventh all-time meeting between the USMNT and Saudi Arabia.

The USMNT posted a 2-0-2 record during its June window, defeating Grenada 5-0 and tying El Salvador 1-1 in Concacaf Nations League action.

Comments

  1. Most teams UEFA teams are scheduled to play late september and there are African countries that the USMNT can play (Nigeria, Egypt, Gambia, Ghana) that would be more than enough to help the USMNT develop, evaluate and build our final roster team. Dates for FIFA international friendlies: early spring – March (too late), late spring – May or June (too late), late summer – August or September and autumn – October and November.
    Good opponents to play that didn’t make the World Cup

    #1 Italy – Rank 6
    Play England 23 SEP 2022
    Play Hungary 26 SEP 2022
    #2 Sweden – Rank 17
    Play Serbia 24 SEP 2022
    Play Slovania 27 SEP 2022
    #3 Colombia – Rank 19
    Nothing scheduled
    #4 Chile – Rank 26
    Nothing Scheduled
    #5 Austria – Rank 30
    Plays France 22 SEP 2022
    Plays Croatia 25 SEP 2022

    I don’t know if these countries would want to play the USMNT in a tactical / technical tune-up match but the US needs to TRY and schedule more games before the world cup

    Reply
    • African teams have Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers during September window. Also no one will release a player outside of the September window. The only reason we get anyone in Jan is because MLS is in offseason. The only remaining window before the WC is Sept 19-27, and teams are only allowed 2 matches per Fifa rules in this window.

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  2. Overall decent scheduling by the USSF, considering the EURO sides were already committed. We rarely get to play Asian Opponents and Japan should be a good test. They are usually a well organized side with a couple key dangerous players. They should simulate Iran fairly well. Saudi I don’t know enough about….so at the least hoping for a decent performance from them.
    Many of our players faced Wales in that friendly, so I don’t expect there to be too much to shock our players.
    @Vacqui – Observations on a couple of your statements.
    1) Replacing Gregg at this stage would be a bit of a disaster. Not because the players couldn’t adapt, but in all likelihood whoever they replaced him with would either be a member of his staff (no changes, just a lower example of the same) or we’d get someone worse than Gregg….Jason Kriess or a retread like Arena again.
    2) There are still a couple spots in the squad that are wide open. Striker, Back-Up LB/3rd RB, are two that if someone starts the Euro season with a bang they could easily make the team. Striker I expect Ferreira & Pepi to be the first choices and with the expanded roster we’ll likely see a 3rd brought (my guess is either Dike or Sargent). Yedlin & Cannon haven’t looked all that great….so could see Scally or Moore push their way into the squad with a strong start to the season otherwise I don’t see any changes from Jedi, Dest, Yedlin & Cannon without an injury.
    3) Unless there is another injury, CB is not a position that Gregg is going to change his selections…..therefore there is no chance in hell that Brooks will make the team.
    It’ll be another 4 years before we finally hear what JAB/GGG rift is all about.
    Therefore expect Zimmer, Long, Richards, EPB/CCV/Sands (pick 2) to be the CBs taken.
    4) The keeper is one position I’m worried about. Steffen will not get many games to start the season…neither will Turner. If Horvath gets loaned or is starting I could easily see him improve his standing from 4th. If he doesn’t get a loan or start the season than Johnson may end up being our starting keeper.
    5) Lastly your comment “What many of you may be most afraid of is that the team will do well enough so that Berhalter will remain in charge for 2026.” you are 1000% right. If we do well it’s going to be in spite of Gregg not because of him. On top of that keeping a coach around for multiple cycles historically has not worked out as most coaches hold onto players too long and don’t inject fresh blood. Arena’s 06 WC, Bradley start to 2014, JK’s 2nd tenure are all clear examples where it’s failed. Considering Gregg has held onto under performers throughout this Cycle does not bode well for how he’d act if given a 2nd cycle.

    Reply
    • It’s amazing that some in the fan base are living in this alternate universe when it comes to Greg, this idea that he’s not right for the job and are clearly blind to how much the players enjoy him as coach and respect what he’s done. You don’t establish a winning culture on and off(several trophies in tow and foster a real brotherhood within a really young team the field and have the results be in spite of you. So my thing is, if people are really prepared to say that this team wins in spite of Greg, then you all have to say that the losses aren’t Greg fault his either, because from where I’m sitting there is too much immaturity and inconsistency in terms of playing time at club level, dips in form, but more importantly injuries popping up within this team for all of the good to be down to the players, only a fool would think otherwise. I know I’ll be rooting for the team and Greg to do well be cause he’s the manager we have right now and again, he’s gotten results with a really young team who are still learning how to play together at this level and be professionals, period.

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      • “ some in the fan base are living in this alternate universe when it comes to Greg, this idea that he’s not right for the job and are clearly blind to how much the players enjoy him as coach and respect what he’s done.”

        Are you in the locker room? We can all tell from the outside, that these players obviously are dying to play in the WC and will do whatever they can but unless you are in the locker room, you don’t know what those guys really think of the manager.

        “You don’t establish a winning culture on and off(several trophies in tow and foster a real brotherhood within a really young team the field and have the results be in spite of you. “

        What “winning culture”? This team beats crap teams and has a hard time doing so. That’s your “winning” culture, proved yet again by how much they struggled with a much inferior El Salvador.

        They haven’t beaten an equal or better team in a competitive game yet. We were all hoping Mexico would be a stern test, but they turned out to be an aging and decrepit fraud.
        The trophies are nice, but I would point out that they won the Gold Cup in 2017 and no one noticed.

        The only time the Gold Cup has meant anything in recent years was when winning it meant entrance to the late, great Confederations Cup. Otherwise, the USSF would send a B team. Now it means they have a wining culture?

        What a load of horse excreta.

        The Gold Cup is a rigged tournament designed to provide revenue for CONCACAF teams and a big part of that is having Mexico and the USMNT face off in a rousing finale.

        “So my thing is, if people are really prepared to say that this team wins in spite of Greg, then you all have to say that the losses aren’t Greg fault his either, because from where I’m sitting there is too much immaturity and inconsistency in terms of playing time at club level, dips in form, but more importantly injuries popping up within this team for all of the good to be down to the players, only a fool would think otherwise.”

        You just described the lot of the national team managers.
        If they can’t handle the basic nature of a national team and produce, they should be fired. And they often are.

        National teams are second class citizens. They borrow other teams’ players for tournaments often at the end of the club season when most of the players are tired, injured or prone to injury. A compromised player pool is the nature of the beast with the international game.

        Get over this endless whining over injuries.

        A good national team manager knows he may not have the best players and will have limited time with them so he is forced to keep it simple, something the USMNT manager refuses to do.

        “I know I’ll be rooting for the team and Greg to do well because he’s the manager we have right now and again, he’s gotten results with a really young team who are still learning how to play together at this level and be professionals, period.”

        What a martyr. What a lot of excuse making. This is loser talk before a tournament.

        Pulisic is a Champions League winner. Tyler, Weston, Dest are young but seasoned professionals, at clubs with Champions League aspirations and with their fair share of Champions League games under their belt. Collectively, this USMNT player pool has more club medals than any previous World Cup edition of the USMNT. Something none of our previous World Cup teams had..

        The fans have a right to expect more from this group given their talent, accomplishments and experience level as professionals.

        Our players are plenty old enough and experienced enough to play better as a team than what they have shown.

        And they may do well in Qatar but right now this team are inconsistent and look disorganized and poorly coached.

        They always do unless they are playing Mercer County Community College.

        To their credit they are good about getting themselves out the holes they dig themselves into but that is a sign of collective grit and fighting spirit not good coaching. That is a sign of a group of players realizing that they are embarrassing themselves against some high school team and need to pull themselves out of it, not good managing.

        Qatar is a chance for each of the players to prove that they can raise their game to this level and it’s a chance for Berhalter to prove he can restrain himself and not shoot himself in the foot.

    • “but in all likelihood whoever they replaced him with would either be a member of his staff (no changes, just a lower example of the same) or we’d get someone worse than Gregg….Jason Kriess or a retread like Arena again.”

      I agree and that is why I wrote:

      “As long as the replacement is a decent one, chances are it will have little effect on performance or results. ”

      You’re assuming that the USSF will follow the same protocol they did after Couva. And look what that got them.

      I was saying that if anyone with half a brain was running the search to replace this guy then the USMNT might have a shot at mediocrity. Bring in someone who knows the difference between a right fullback and a right corner back. Or a wingback and Nickelback.

      But you’re probably correct. They will probably have an exhaustive world wide search sparing no expense on their expense accounts and will come up with the “other ” JK, Jason Kreis. I remember when he and guys like Caleb Porter, another Olympic bust, were up and coming genius managers.

      I think it’s very clear that Berhalter already has his team, even the starting 11 and the 5 subs ( they are allowing that right?) mostly picked out.

      But my point was , that doesn’t matter.

      4 months or so is a million years in soccer time and an awful lot can happen between now and selection day. And there is often no rhyme or reason for a loss of form or for potential injuries. to the USMNT , England, Wales or Iran.

      As for the keeper situation, it’s too early to tell how their club situations will play out. All three EPL keepers could wind up playing a lot more than everyone seems to think right now.

      And if not, y’all keep going on about how important regular PT is. Johnson, who all by his lonesome self, has more regular PT than the holy trinity combined.

      I got no problem with starting Sean Johnson. The only reason Matt Turner got to impress you all is because they let him play and they didn’t let Johnson play. How do you know that if Berhalter had given the reins to Sean instead of Turner that he wouldn’t have impressed like Matt did?

      And giving up on Horvath on the basis of one goal is stupid. Horvath made a mistake on judging that ball for the goal but even if he had judged it correctly, it had a great chance to go in anyway. Watch the replay.

      The goalkeeper is a nice talking point but the GK position is at least adequate and it’s the least of the USMNT’s worries.

      Reply
  3. They’re intriguing matchups. Japan has a lot of really good technical players and they like to hog possession. I think they could struggle with the USA’s athleticism and speed and get caught out on counters but you look at the roster and see guys like Endo (Stuttgart), Haraguchi (Union Berlin), Tomiyasu (Arsenal), Minamino (Liverpool)…no doubt, they’ve got some guys. They skunked Paraguay and Ghana 4-1 this past window and only lost 1-0 to Brazil…and then turned around and got shelled 3-0 by Tunisia…despite having 68% possession. Go figure.

    Lot less impressed with the Saudis. Literally every player they have plays in their domestic league, which has only been professional since 2007, and is basically Al-Hilal out of Riyadh, which is basically the Harlem Globetrotters to everybody else’s Washington Generals…their national team is basically Al-Hilal Plus A Few Token Dudes From Other Saudi Teams, so they do have the benefit of knowing each other really well. I would guess we skunk the Saudis as long as we come to play. They’re smurf killers, and their Asian schedule was…laughably easy. They lost both friendlies they played this June, both 1-0 to Venezuela and Colombia in Spain, and despite outpossessing both teams they gave up a massive edge in shots and shots on target. (12-5 and 7-3 against Colombia, and 13-7 and 7-2 against Venezuela.) They looked out of their depth in Russia 2018.

    Reply
  4. Interesting that we are choosing not to play a nation with a clear talent advantage over us like England will have. This US team has not really played a superior opponent yet, and I’d be very curious to see how we lined up against one.
    These are both still very solid matchups though.

    Reply
    • There’s only 10-15 teams that have a clear talent advantage over us and we just played one. It’s not like it’s completely our choice who we play in a friendly. Then subtract the teams that didn’t make the WC like Italy and the pickings get slimmer.

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    • UEFA is playing NL during September window so that really limits the available teams “clearly better than us”.

      Reply
    • they actually have played a fair amount of good teams this cycle, with generally mixed-to-bad results. 17 portugal T (horvath gaffe); 18 france T (disappeared green with a goal) brazil L (jedi scorched) colombia L; 19 ecuador W uruguay T; 20 wales T swiss L; 21 qatar W; 22 morocco W uruguay T. plus fairly even with canada and mexico, general success with costa rica, in the region. this is one reason i have questioned the fanboy optimism, is the picture looks different when you look at barely qualifying and results against teams that made it. all these panama and jamaica and northern ireland results don’t shout so loud. we clearly have work to do though 3rd in the ocho should already scream it anyway.

      personally i do not believe that the big games “prepare,” i believe they “shed light on.” then your choice if you see what the tough games show you. not sure what the value would be to another brazil stomping, and i would not be simulating anti-england tactics before we show up, in some september friendly. i would hide that away.

      i also think you need to match goals to games on this schedule. i don’t think playing some team that forced us into a bunker would prepare us to execute our intended game plan. nor would it help evaluate strikers. it would help somewhat to identify keeper candidates, is about it, because he would be busy as heck. ditto any backs. personally i think these 2 teams are good enough for a serious contest but not so hard we will be drawn out of intended tactics or be unable to evaluate last minute personnel battles.

      to me you need maybe 1-2 tough tough games a year to gauge your team and remind any good good teams you have what another good team looks like. the fanboys who want every game insane don’t remember what 2018 did in terms of trying to sort out who was a keeper or not. hard to tell much losing a bunch of 2-3 goal margins. everyone looks bad. and based on our results we’re not going to get your magical “proof” results. you want that get another coach.

      Reply
      • I am pretty sure another coach at this point would be inviting disaster, no matter who the new coach was. In any case, unless GB has a heart attack he will be the USMNT coach until at least Dec. 2021.

      • Dennis Mueller,

        “I am pretty sure another coach at this point would be inviting disaster, no matter who the new coach was.”

        Maybe. Maybe not.

        First of all, Berhalter ain’t getting axed. That said, canning him would hardly be a disaster. As long as the replacement is a decent one, chances are it will have little effect on performance or results. Other than Ariolla and Roldan and maybe Long, it won’t adveresly affect the players.

        These players are killing themselves because they want to play in the World Cup, not because they want to play for Berhalter in the World Cup.

        You’ve got 4 months or so, and two games.

        You’ve got a number of players who, between now and selection deadline, may have a hot start.

        What if Josh, Hoppe, Nico Gio and Pepi start off like a house on fire?
        What if Brooks does the same, wherever he is.
        What if Ethan wins the keeper job with Forest and they have a hot start?
        What if Turner wins the Arsenal job?

        Unlikely? Maybe. Impossible? No.

        It’s far to soon to give up on the 2022 World Cup.

        If Berhalter got abducted by the Borg tomorrow and a real good replacement was found that person just might walk into a pretty good situation.

        “until at least Dec. 2021.”
        I think the Borg can manage time travel.

        Regardless of who is the manager , this team will go as far as the events (mostly player health, player form) of the next 5 months or so play out and how much Berhalter, if he is the manager, decides to not fuck things up.

        As things stand now, they could go 3-0 or 0-3 or anything in between and it wouldn’t be surprising. The talent is there. The manager is the question mark.

        What many of you may be most afraid of is that the team will do well enough so that Berhalter will remain in charge for 2026.

        And that’s a shame.

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