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USMNT vs. Japan: SBI Match Day


The FIFA World Cup is fast approaching, and the U.S. men’s national team is set to play in the final two matches it has before Gregg Berhalter names his 26-man roster to take to Qatar.

The first of two USMNT September friendlies is Friday in Dusseldorf, Germany against fellow World Cup participant Japan (8am, ESPN2/Unimas). The Japanese are currently ranked 24th in the world and feature a roster stacked with European-based talent to test the Americans before they move on to face Saudi Arabia on Tuesday in Murcia, Spain.

The Americans have brought in a strong squad, with Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie leading a USMNT side returning to action for the first time in three months. Absent are regular starters Zack Steffen, Antonee Robinson, Yunus Musah and Tim Weah, but those injury absences will mean opportunities for some fringe options to step up.

Here is a closer look at the USMNT starting lineup vs. Japan:

Here is a rundown of SBI’s coverage leading up to the September friendlies:

Injury absences present opportunities for USMNT vs. Japan. (LINK)

Who Should the USMNT Start vs. Japan? (LINK)

Five key questions the September friendlies must answer for the USMNT (LINK)

Matt Turner believes Arsenal move has made him sharper. (LINK)

Mark McKenzie, Erik Palmer-Brown named USMNT injury replacements. (LINK)

Enjoy the action, and please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions on the match in the comments section below.


  1. Mindless spineless performance. A group of boys showed up for a scrimmage and ran into men preparing for the World Cup. All this talk of a system and we look reminiscent of Omar Gonzales hacking it up top, only we have no hold up play. Ferreira needs to go. Ggg needs to go. But those things won’t happen. If we show up this naive and week willed, we finish last in the group.

  2. Looked like weekend soccer rec league with the USA players. Players just running and running. Japan looked very organized with pressing and counter-pressing when getting the ball. They knew exactly where to be. I know Berhalter wants to “see how guys do” but it looked like no direction was given at all. Turner was only one with positives. Too many times the centerbacks were sending a ball straight up the middle to a Japan player with no USA player in sight. It looked like the scared reaction kicking and no directed kicking. Whelp, back to the drawing board with several positions. He’s older but getting minutes in the dang Premier League, but wish Ream had been called in. Pefok was the obvious one too.

    • personally i find it telling that with the snobs pimping this dutch 433 stuff and attacking any tactics with numbers back, defensive organization, counter soccer, or anything like that, the comparisons of the day keep being to 80s or 90s levels of success (eg, “wow we qualified,” losing to canada, losing to asian teams) and not the past 20 years (setting aside the 2015-2018 talent lull period). the argument misses that US players have steadily improved in talent and ground ball quality all this time, so we don’t need to be forced to become something else to gain that, but this style stifles what we have rather than leverages it. we have speed, we have raw ability, and we will defend. i am instead watching a team with zimmermann, long, and mckennie foolishly mimic tiki taka and try to trick and flick their way right up the middle of a defend and counter opponent just waiting on our overstretch and giveaways. silliness.

      i think we have lost that tactics are not usually aspirational, they are what wins you games now. what would win this games now is re-emphasize defense, speed, and wide creativity through the wings — and not the wingbacks, which is naive to do all day — or did no one notice dest’s man scores the first goal and he’s barely even in the camera shot.

      my curiosity is does anyone pick up on concacaf was weak this time, we barely made it out, and we struggle out of region, plus whatever happens in november, or does this dingbat get to run this into the ground through 2026. i mean, this rarely ever looks “drilled” or “good,” it’s at best “effective.” and when we start getting GA down they bring back jedi or dest and then start pimping brooks or ream.

    • my problem with GB’s tactics is his premise seems to be to pinch the wings and mids inside, leave the chalk to the wingbacks, and if the ball doesn’t go wide, that tends to encourage the straight downfield back to goal ball you describe. that is a silly way to try to find, say, reyna, who is not a target striker. put them out on the chalk and hit them earlier in space. the wingbacks should only be up last resort.

      he then seems to want to do an offense with the straight upfield ball one-touch flicked to a supporting mid. this gives you about 2 ways to stop us easy. cut off the square ball from the backs. or try to force errant flicks if we do manage to complete the pass.

      to me this is punch down theory meant to work on easier teams that a good defense will destroy. we need punch up tactics. i mean, as a defender i was cautioned against playing straight passes downfield at a fairly young age in youth select. and that’s the offense?

      what worked on an early play and i wanted to see more of is skip ball across the back and go fly down the other line. not pass the ball to each back across the line slowly and then the equipment manager, then try and complete square passes against a world cup team. just horrifying to watch if you ever played at a decent level. the only people making excuses for this are fanboys who ironically can’t believe this is what they really wanted, either. this was not a very attractive or fun 58% possession domination. this is the backs spend most of the time on the ball. so what.

      • What we saw was no different than Bruce Arena Ball, except that we tried passing it long along the ground instead of in the air. Hence something like 54 turnovers in our own half in the 1st 45 minutes.

        All this talk of a “System” that requires a high line and eschews passing CBs, and what did we get? Japan handing our CBs the ball and clogging all passing lanes.

        Anyone else notice how the system has evolved from the W thing with a weird RB/CDM sweeper role for Adams, then to passing out of the back, then to pressing, and today they wanted to pass it out of the back? “The System” is a rhetorical mirage. No “System” has been implemented.

        GGG just doesn’t like guys he can’t vibe with. He doesn’t like veterans who have a personality — and perhaps enough experience for club and country — to question his decisions.

  3. Final: Japan 2 – USMNT 0. Goals from Kamada and Kitoma propel Japan to a win in Germany and condemn the Americans to a disappointing defeat. Matt Turner was the lone bright spot for the Americans, making six saves in the loss. However, not a lot of positives from the attack or defense. Gregg Berhalter will have a lot to answer in the coming days.

    • yeah, he was like, we need to watch the tape to assign blame. start with your own game plan. we obviously set out to play right up the middle from the back and it worked so poorly people want every single back cut in favor of the ones who can pass better but not mark, which would be even worse.

      the thing i pick up on as a defender is we don’t skip pass all the way across the back quickly, and we don’t have a lot of lateral or diagonal running out of slot by the forwards. they stand back to goal acting like they are open for a pass straight upfield that would be ill advised U17 because so many layers of the defense can either intercept, drape the recipient, or sit on the second ball. we set up that kind of offense but eschew burly target types. to me with all the wing speed and technique, switch it wide and quickly. get them on their horse. quit trying to pass straight up the middle from the back.

    • Phew this is some bad, bad stuff.

      Zero chance this team makes it out of Group unless we turn it around bigly.

      Other than Turner I’m struggling to find a single bright spot.

  4. 3 things:

    – there is no GK controversy — Turner is the Man
    – combo of: we really miss Jedi / Sam Vines is struggling
    – I’m more worried about CB pairing than ever — it’s our biggest weakness

    • nice chance but i think he should have run straight upfield. he juked towards the defender then everyone closed him back down. didn’t make a ton of sense since he had a big gap of green between backs.

  5. Just all bad. Nothing to be excited about here. We are going to struggle at the WC. Berhalters need for slow buildup is outdated. We aren’t Spain.

  6. Another giveaway, this time from McKenzie, another save from Turner, without whom the USA would be even farther behind.

    70+ minutes already gone in a flash with little to show for it. If this dash of cold water doesn’t add enough urgency, there won’t be much time left to tighten the ship.

    Brave last-ditch clearance by Cannon, who may be lucky not to have been hurt in the clash.

    Yikes, another near miss by Japan. Some dismay among the commentators that there’s still no tactical improvement to deal with the problems in midfield.

    • yes. yes. yes. either early balls downfield, or get it to a side then switch play fast to the other. what’s killing us is the passes straight upfield into the teeth of the press. when you have an over-aggressive opponent that goes compact, switch the ball over or around the compactness.

      going right into the teeth of the compactness is arrogant but then my theory on this whole pep nonsense is it’s keepaway soccer for superior payroll teams. it’s let me show off by tiki taka’ing through your whole pressing offense. when’s the last time you actually saw us score a goal off of a 20 pass build where we tricked and flicked through an opponent. it rarely ever happens. most teams don’t base their system on either (1) easily defensed passes like square balls or (2) stringing 30 passes. they are realistic about what the roster will bear.

  7. I don’t understand why Japan has figured out that on a slow pitch you hit the ball harder and the US hasn’t. More giveaways than I ever remember.

  8. Number of bad giveaways I. Our third that I counted: Turner 2 Vines 1, Zimm 1, Long 3, Dest 2 , Wes 3 (resp for goal) Adams 2, LDLT 2. US press will be ineffective against WC caliber teams so hopefully he will give up on it by WC.

  9. Bring back John Anthony Brooks. -______-Zimmerman and Long is đźš®. I would rather see Ream Fulham and Brooks Benfica bench CB pairing. Also give more USA youth a chance like Lindsey from Charlotte.

  10. switch the ball and go down the opposite wing. they aren’t that hard to get forward on. unless you try and play right up the middle then do tricks and flicks 1- and 2- touch right through the heart of the defense. you might also consider simply playing over the top some where they can’t just sit on the passing lanes, but we don’t really have either the target or wide speed personnel for it.

  11. That was straight up a really bad first half. Spacing is wrong, bad passing, not recognizing the pocket of spaces in the middle of the park. Don’t understand why De La Torre is so wide on the right. Zero connection with Adams, McKennie and De La Torre. Aaronson has been mitigated. Plan A hasn’t been working. What now Berhalter?

  12. HT: Japan leads 1-0 over the USMNT thanks to Daichi Kamada’s goal. The USMNT has not been able to build from the back and create any true chances in the final third.

    Japan is dictating things with their pressure with and without the ball. More to come from Dusseldorf, and maybe even some changes to the lineup.

  13. Ouch; rude awakening at such an early hour.
    McKennie giveaway led to the Japan goal called back for offside, then given by VAR. Kamada had already had at least two more silver-platter chances than that one.
    On UniMás they call it deserved, after dominant play by Japan on a poor field in Düsseldorf in front of a mostly Japanese crowd. If I understood correctly, Marcelo Balboa is worried that the US 4-3-3 is losing out in midfield to Japan’s 4-4-2.

  14. I love seeing the US v. Japan and Costa Rica v. South Korea (currently 2-2) as warm ups. These four teams over the past few cycles have been the class of CONCACAF and AFC (or CAF, which ever it is) , along with Mexico and Australia. I think it should be a regular occurrence, along with the top few African teams.

  15. The USMNT is doing well to offer chances in the final third, but haven’t been able to link up for a great offensive chance.

    Japan is doing well to pressure the Americans, especially after they lose possession.

  16. Good morning all and thanks for joining us for USMNT vs. Japan.

    There are plenty of players to watch this morning including Gio Reyna, Sam Vines, Luca De La Torre, and Jesus Ferreira. De La Torre gets the start with Yunus Musah out, Gio Reyna starts on the right wing, and Sam Vines gets the nod at left back.

    Christian Pulisic’s absence through a slight knock means Brenden Aaronson starts at left wing.


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