DUSSELDORF, Germany – With the World Cup less than two months away, the United States men’s national team hoped to hone their game against Japan, but if anything it was Samurai Blue who seemed more ready for the key tournament. riding goals on both sides of the range from Daichi Kamada and Kaoru Mitoma for a 2-0 win.
The score flattered the US team’s poor performance, as the Americans seemed completely out of sync throughout the game. It is clear that even at this late stage, US manager Gregg Berhalter has work to do.
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1. The United States has no answer for the Japanese press
Berhalter often wants his team to play with the attacking foot, and this starts with pressing the teams high up on the pitch. On this day, however, Japan gave Americans a taste of their medicine and it worked perfectly. The case in point was Japan’s goal in the 24th minute, when a loss from Weston McKennie led to a transition opportunity where Hidemasa Morita found Kamada wide open to pass Matt Turner sideways in the US goal.
The US has also been slow to seemingly react to everything, playing shyly at times, and no American has been immune from turning the ball. Could it have been the nervousness or the need to play it safe with the looming World Cup? It seems unlikely.
The effectiveness of Japan’s pressure meant that the US rarely got into the kind of spots they might have threatened Shuichi Gonda in Japan’s goal, and they only had five touches in Japan’s penalty area during the first half: the lowest number of USMNTs in a friendly since 2019. Sergino Dest scored an inviting cross for Jesus Ferreira in the eighth minute, but the FC Dallas striker only managed to inflate his header over the crossbar. Ferreira’s lack of physical presence in the lead, coupled with Christian Pulisic’s absence due to a blow, only aggravated the US team’s difficulties with the ball. The US looked a little more threatening with Joshua Sargent leading in the second half, but not by much.
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Given the difficulty the US has encountered in playing from behind – and this has been a problem in midfield as much as it was a bottom line problem – it is obvious that the Americans’ group stage opponents will take a lot of notes in terms of or how to get to the defense of the United States.
2. Turner claimed no. 1 shirt?
The United States had Turner to thank for entering the interval with just one goal behind. In particular, his Kamada save when he was clear on goal in the 13th minute after Walker Zimmerman’s gift was impressive. He also commanded his box well and performed the routine rescues he should have done.
The only complaint was Turner’s distribution in some cases, where his contact and accuracy with the ball were poor. He will need to refine things in the remaining weeks before the World Cup.
Was that enough to push the nose forward in the battle for the starting goalkeeper spot? You should think so, but Berhalter has long had a soft spot for Zack Steffen. It probably won’t be until November that we know this answer for sure.
3. Fringe players have little impact
On a day when the opportunity presented itself for players competing for the last places on the roster, there wasn’t much movement. Both Reggie Cannon and Mark McKenzie performed well in the replacement roles, but there wasn’t much else to note. In terms of starters, Sam Vines hasn’t improved his title at all, and the same goes for Aaron Long, as neither player has taken into account the pace of the match.
If anything, this was a day in which the absences of some injured players count. Pulisic in attack, Yunus Musah in midfield and Chris Richards in center back all need to heal as quickly as possible.
United States: Matt Turner 8, Sam Vines 4, Aaron Long 4, Walker Zimmerman 5, Sergino Dest 5, Luca de la Torre 4, Tyler Adams 4, Weston McKennie 3, Giovanni Reyna 5, Jesus Ferreira 4, Brenden Aaronson 5
Subtitles: Jordan Morris 5, Mark McKenzie 6, Josh Sargent 5, Reggie Cannon 6, Malik Tillman 5, Johnny Cardoso 5
Japan: Shuichi Gonda 5, Takehiro Tomiyasu 6, Hiroki Sakai 7, Yuta Nakayama 7, Maya Yoshida 6, Wataru Endo 8, Takefusa Kubo 7, Midemasa Morita 6, Junya Ito 6, Daichi Kamada 7, Daizen Maeda 6
Subtitles: Daniel Schmidt 5, Shuto Machino 5, Hiroki Ito 5, Kaoru Mitoma 7, Ritsu Doan 5, Genki Haraguchi N / R
Best and worst performers
BEST: Daichi Kamada, Japan. There were a few players to choose from. Endo led the show in midfield and Sakai and Nakayama’s pair of center backs were made up the whole time, but Kamada took his goal well and got involved in some other buildups.
WORST: Weston McKennie, USA The same was true at the other end of the spectrum, but McKennie’s giveaway that triggered the sequence that led to Kamada’s goal, and who only completed 69.2% of his passes, stood out from the rest.
Highlights and highlights
The numbers and accompanying graphs tell the story of the United States’ powerlessness against Japan.
Passes completed so far in the third offensive:
Japan 35#USMNT 4
– Bill Connelly (@ESPN_BillC) September 23, 2022
#USMNT first half touches …
🇮🇹 Pulisic-shaped hole is back!
🇯🇵 Japan had 82 offensive-third touches, up to 42 for the United States pic.twitter.com/DTtOvq56SA
– Paul Carr (@PaulCarr) September 23, 2022
USMNT managed ZERO shots on goal vs. Japan pic.twitter.com/LxshxQMRAG
– ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) September 23, 2022
Japan 2-0 USA
– The US analyst (@OptaAnalystUS) September 23, 2022
Japan put the icing on the cake with a well-scored goal from Mitoma, after wiping out Cannon and the rest of the American defense.
Japan secures 2-0 win over USMNT to kick off the international break 🎯 pic.twitter.com/shduF3c28J
– ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) September 23, 2022
After the game: what the players and coaches said
Berhalter: “We have work to do. We clearly need to improve.”
Berhalter: “We have to play with personality, we have to play relaxed, we have to play with intensity and when we do these things, we are a really good team. But when we don’t, we are an average team.”
Key Statistics (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)
– The United States is now 1V-3L-2D this year against the teams that qualified for the November World Cup.
– Friday was the first time since a 1-0 defeat in World Cup qualifiers to Panama in October 2021 that the USMNT have been kept to zero shots on goal.
– Turner’s six saves were the second by a US goalkeeper under Berhalter, who took over in January 2019. (Turner also has the most saves in a match under Berhalter, eight, against Morocco on June 1.)
United States: USMNT will head to Spain for a friendly against Saudi Arabia in Murcia on Tuesday. It will be the last match for the United States before the opening of the World Cup group stage on 19 November. 21 against Wales.
Japan: Two more friendlies up for grabs. The first is Ecuador on Tuesday, also in Dusseldorf. Then against Canada on Nov. 17 in Dubai, just a week before Nov. 23 clash against Germany at the World Cup.