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USMNT vs. Saudi Arabia: SBI Match Day

The U.S. men’s national team will play its final match before the World Cup today, as Gregg Berhalter deploys as close to a first-choice lineup as he has available to take on Saudi Arabia (2 p.m., FS1, UniMas, TUDN).

Christian Pulisic is back in the starting lineup after sitting out Friday’s 2-0 loss to Japan with a minor injury, and he is joined in the USMNT attack by Gio Reyna and Ricardo Pepi.

The USMNT defense will feature Aaron Long and Walker Zimmerman in central defense, with Sergiño Dest shifting to left back while DeAndre Yedlin starts at right back.

Here is the starting lineup the USMNT will deploy against Saudi Arabia today:

Today’s match against fellow World Cup participant Saudi Arabia is the USMNT’s final match before the FIFA World Cup, with Berhalter set to announce his 26-man roster on November 9th.

SBI’s editorial staff will be offering some analysis throughout today’s match in the comments section below. Please feel free to share your own thoughts and opinions as well.

Enjoy the action.


  1. We’re lacking verticality …
    We’re lacking personality ….
    I don’t need someone to score 5 goals, just know the system …
    I call up players based on form …
    We know what they can do, that’s why I didn’t call them up …
    We had a fantastic game, look at our possession …

    All GGG quotes or sayings. There is no way he gets fired a month before the Cup but USSF should really consider if this is the guy to develop the golden generation of US soccer. With our current crop, and the young kids coming up, this could be something special for the next 10-15 years if the right person is in charge. Unfortunately the wrong guy is at the helm right now …

  2. If the US is going to play like this…

    Bring Ream, and Zimmerman and Pefok and we get ready to bunker. Forget Dest, play Yedlin, he knows how to defend… and Scally if he gets tired. Keep McKinnie and Tyler in tight, hell, maybe add Acosta in too. We will need all the cards we can afford to bunker properly. 4-5-1 Pefok up top or Sargent and just kick ball it to him on the counter. Or play 3CB (still no Long) with Yedlin and Jedi so a 5-4-1 to bunker better.

    This is just piss poor.
    They are going to get punched in the face by Wales, and have to follow it up with England. Iran is better than Saudi too. ugh. I’m depressed just thinking about it.

  3. This team has no ideas and no identity and seemingly, no belief.

    The fact that this is the shape the team is in headed to the World Cup is past the point of concerning and if I’m US Soccer I’d be giving real thought to firing Gregg if I had anybody in any sort of rescue position…the problem is, we don’t.

    It’s going to be a short World Cup for us, though. Zero chance this team as constituted gets out of Group and I think we probably go home with 0 or 1 points.

    Gregg is very much looking like he was the wrong guy for this job.

      • There have been worse ideas.

        Honestly, he can’t do worse than Gregg. The team won’t say but they look like they’ve all but quit on him.

      • I mean, I get that it is a scrimmage.

        But still.

        It just doesn’t pass the eye/smell test. Something is up, though I’m not close enough to say what.

  4. Dreadful. I have resigned myself to watching the US World Cup games in the fetal position. Dest on the left and Scally in the right. Our forwards can’t score so Pefok’s omission is even more glaring. Ream over Long. Ariola is not ready for prime time, but everyone except Beerholder knows that already.

  5. This is horrid. Passing from the back isn’t good aside from Zimmerman who is just ok, but as others have mentioned a little slow. Also no creativity in midfield and that’s on Gregg. He’s putting his most creative players on the wings and leaving a bunch of cloggers in the middle. Two are fine, especially with Adams defensive bite, but there is nothing that makes me think this team is going to do anything at the world cup with this manager. It’s a lot of window dressing, but the house is empty.

  6. We don’t look ready for the World Cup simple as that.
    Not much improvement vs what we saw vs Japan. Still sloppy passing from the back and zero threat on the attack.

    • Ives,

      Scally was great.
      Arriola is a black hole, where offense goes to die.
      McKenzie is better than long. This is dreadful high school stuff from he and Zimmerman. Slow, ponderous, telegraphing passes, and unwilling or scared to bring the ball up on a press.
      Pepi was non-existent for 30 minutes with Reyna and Pulisic and McKinnie, and Adams against a bunkered D. That is on him. How does he make it over Pefok and Sargent?

      If we look like this in November it will be 3Ls and going home. I am having flashbacks to 1998.

  7. The sloppy passing of these centerbacks is making Tim Ream look very important and doubt Berhalter will give him a thought, even if he’s starting for a Premier League team.

  8. Yedlin fouled hard by a Saudi player, going down after a hit to the ankle. The Saudis have been chippy all day, getting in late on challenges repeatedly.

    USMNT about to bring in three subs, Jesus Ferreira, Joe Scally and Mark McKenzie set to enter, likely for Yedlin, Pepi and Long.

      • Then you put the best players out there. Not sure that GGG is doing that.
        I’d rather watch a team that may not have a “system”, but is enjoyable to watch. Even in a loss, there were times I loved watching them.
        The system just isn’t working.

  9. Berhalter will probably say, “Look at our great possession percentage.”

    He’s sounded more and more like the in-denial Mexico coaches of the past who hated when they lost to the USA, and used this as their excuse.

    • Agreed.
      Used to be I looked forward with anticipation to watching the USMNT. Now I may choose a root canal, or maybe being stuck in traffic as an alternative. It’s just not enjoyable to lay eyes on.

      • Does this mean that Reyna should be a sub, and not a starter?

        If the USMNT starts him – particularly against a team that plays a more physical game (i.e. Wales, England and Iran – right?), isn’t he more apt to take a hard tackle and knock early – like a the 30 minute mark – and we are down a sub and likely have a little melancholy about a potential injury?

        Wouldn’t the USMNT (and BVB) be better off have a fast, agile kid come off the bench when the other team is a little tired where he might have some more open space to use his skills?

      • MidWest Ref,

        “Wouldn’t the USMNT (and BVB) be better off have a fast, agile kid come off the bench when the other team is a little tired where he might have some more open space to use his skills?”

        I hear this a lot. And I wonder.
        I would use Gio as a sub. But not for the reasons you state.
        I believe that if he’s healthy he will be a sub in most of the BVB games leading up to Qatar. I don’t think he will be 100% match fit and sharp in November. So I think his best role will be as some kind of impact sub.

        I don’t expect him to sub in vs. a “tired” team.

        There will be 5 subs in this WC correct?
        And I’m pretty sure all the games in the WC will be very tight so I would not count on games “opening up”.

        The managers of Wales, Iran and England likely have Gio on their watch list. The USMNT doesn’t have a lot in terms of scary players that the other teams are frightened of .

        Gio they should be wary off. And if they see that he’s a sub will plan accordingly in terms of having a sub ready to cover him when he does come in.

  10. USA centerbacks just slow on passes. I’m afraid if they try long balls in World Cup, when speed is faster, many more offside calls will be given. They don’t anticipate quick enough.

  11. Gio Reyna left the match in the 30th minute, Paul Arriola replacing him.

    No word yet on whether this was pre-planned, but Berhalter went to the locker room with Reyna, who knocked the ball out of bounds on purpose just before he was replaced.

    Still 0-0 in Murcia, 34th minute.

  12. Matt Turner was tested with a long-distance shot early on, but saved it well.

    First 10 minutes in the books and the Saudis came out energized but the USMNT settled into the match. They are trying to combine more and early on we are seeing some more ideas in attack, but still no dangerous chances created yet.

    • 1. Long will be starting in the WC
      2. Aaronson is absolutely killing it in the PL as a 10 but GB sees him only as outside forward
      3. Sargent is better than Pepsi in every single facet of the game, but he can’t get PT playing between Pulisic and Reyna.

      What a waste.

      • 1. Depending on what happens in the next six weeks we could still see a Chris Richards or Cameron Carter-Vickers starting, but it will depend on health and playing time. Berhalter rates Long, but we shouldn’t assume Berhalter would start him over a healthy and in-form Richards. I think.

        2. I would be a bit more worried about Aaronson not starting today if not for the beating he just took against Japan. We don’t know his physical condition coming out of that match. I also wouldn’t assume Aaronson isn’t an option in central midfield, but only if one of Musah-McKennie isn’t available.

        3. Sargent is in form and I was hoping we would see him start one of these matches, but Berhalter is clearly trying to boost Pepi’s confidence, and while I agree right now there’s no debating who is in better form, I would be curious to know how they have looked in training and if Pepi has a better connection with the USMNT wingers than Sargent. All that said, if Pepi isn’t in top form come November he won’t beat out an in-form Sargent for that third striker spot.

      • Deaf65,

        “surpass Steve Sampson,”

        He might already have.

        Sampson did a great job as an interim in Copa America where they beat Argentina (3-0) AND Mexico and made the semis, losing 1-0 to Brazil. .

        Gregg has never done anything remotely similar to that.

        On the other hand, Sampson did lead the USMNT during a disastrous and embarrassing 1998 World Cup but in retrospect, with all the information about the sex scandal behind the scenes now coming out, leading up to the WC, Sampson could have been a better leader but the disaster was slightly understandable. That was a pretty polarized team.

        However, Gregg’s story isn’t over yet. He could still win the World Cup either in November or in 2026 as I expect him to sign an extension.

        Roldan, Long and Ariolla will all be around 31 and won’t be too old in 2026. Neither will theylovedaboy. who will only be 34 years old

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