The U.S. men’s national team struggled to break down Uzbekistan in majority of Saturday’s friendly victory in St. Louis and now a different challenge awaits it in St. Paul on Tuesday.
Oman opposes the USMNT in the second and final friendly of the September international window. The West Asian country is ranked No. 73 in the world and is fresh off a 2-1 victory over Palestine last week in its first of two matches this month.
Branko Ivankovic’s squad will bring a different set of tactics to Allianz Field this week and the USMNT will need to be ready for a strong 90 minute performance.
“Oman is completely different than Uzbekistan,” USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter said Monday in his pre-match press conference. “Uzbekistan was a 5-3-1, at times a 5-2-3, but a very difficult block to break down.
“Defending with four players on the wing, very compact,” he added. “Oman has played a 4-4-2 diamond and they have a very, very dynamic counterattack. Part of the emphasis in this camp was finishing attacks against the low block of Uzbekistan, and now preventing transitions against Oman.”
The USMNT rode an early first-half goal from Tim Weah to take a 1-0 lead against Uzbekistan before adding two late goals through Ricardo Pepi and Christian Pulisic. However, the Americans were lucky to not be pegged back on multiple occasions in the match as goalkeeper Matt Turner made three saves and also received help from his post once.
Oman has posted a 7-2-2 record in 11 matches this year, reaching the Gulf Cup Final before losing to Iraq 3-2 in extra time. Germany was Oman’s toughest opponent over the past two years and Ivanovic’s squad only suffered a 1-0 loss to the European nation ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Berhalter specifically referenced that result and praised the all-around abilities in the Oman squad ahead of his second match back in charge of the USMNT.
“It’s going to be a great test for us,” Berhalter said. “We watched the game against Germany where Germany won 1-0, but [Oman] absolutely battered Germany with their transition moments. They were all over [Germany] in that game, so it’s gonna be important for us.”