clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

USA vs. Oman, 2023 Friendly: Scouting Oman

The USMNT faces off against a second Asian opponent.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Oman v Bahrain - FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021 Photo by David Ramos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

In Gregg Berhalter’s return to the technical area, the United States Men’s National Team opened the international window with a 3-0 win against Uzbekistan, with the manager acknowledging that there is “much to improve.” Next on the schedule is Oman, the second of perhaps many Asian opponents during the World Cup cycle. The Middle Eastern program is pushing to take the next step with a tune-up in advance of November’s qualifying fixtures. Allianz Field – a 19,400-seat soccer-specific stadium in Saint Paul, Minnesota with a “100 percent natural grass cover reinforced with synthetic fibers” – is set to play host.

This is the first all-time meeting between the two nations. Ranked 73rd internationally by FIFA, Oman began the year with a runner-up finish in the 25th Arabian Gulf Cup, a run that ended in the final with a 3-2 loss to Iraq but imbued the players with confidence. In June’s Central Asian Football Association Nations Cup, Al-Ahmar (The Reds) landed in third place out of seven teams, taking down hosts Kyrgyzstan in the bronze medal match. A recent friendly against Palestine ended in a 2-1 victory.

Branko Ivanković was appointed to the manager role in January of 2020, carrying a 19-11-8 record that includes an upset over regional giant Japan. The 69-year-old Croat has significant experience at a variety of club and international sides, including Hannover, Dinamo Zagreb, Al-Ahli, and Iran, qualifying for the 2006 World Cup. The Oman Football Federation extended his contract through the end of 2023.

Ivanković named a 24-player roster for the match, a mostly full-strength cohort that competed at the Arabian Gulf Cup or CAFA Nations Cup. Outside of one inclusion from the Qatar Stars League, the entire group is based in the Oman Professional League. Former captain Mohammed Al-Musalami remains out of the squad following his retirement, but there “have been discussions about making a return.”


GOALKEEPERS (3): Ahmed Al-Rawahi (Al-Seeb), Faiz Al-Rushaidi (Mes Rafsanjan), Ibrahim Al-Mukhaini (Al-Nahda)

DEFENDERS (7): Mahmood Al-Mushaifri (Al-Suwaiq), Ahmed Al-Kaabi (Al-Nahda), Khalid Al-Braiki (Al-Shabab), Ahmed Al-Khamisi (Al-Seeb), Ahmed Al-Matrooshi (Al-Nahda), Fahmi Durbin (Al-Nasr), Juma Al-Habsi (Ibri)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Mataz Saleh (Dhofar), Musab Al-Mamari (Al-Nasr), Tamim Al-Balushi (Al-Seeb), Harib Al-Saadi (Al-Nahda), Ali Al-Hinai (Al-Nahda), Abdullah Fawaz (Al-Nahda), Omar Al-Malki (Al-Nahda)

FORWARDS (7): Ahmed Al-Adawi (Al-Rustaq), Salaah Al-Yahyaei (Al-Nahda), Issam Al-Sabhi (Al-Nahda), Abdulrahman Al-Mushaifri (Al-Seeb), Jameel Al-Yahmadi (Al Kharaitiyat), Muhsen Al-Ghassani (Al-Seeb), Zahir Al-Aghbari (Al-Seeb)


Ivanković utilizes a 4-4-2 formation and plays a direct, vertical style with long passes through the center of the field and relying upon individual moments of brilliance. Oman will adapt based on the level of the opponent, likely adopting a more defensive and cynical set-up against the USMNT. The back line is prone to the occasional mental lapse of a penalty or bad giveaway but generally maintains a stable, deeper structure.

Projected Oman Starting XI (via

The veteran Faiz Al-Rushaidi is expected to start at the back of the formation, having been a member of the program since 2010. Twice named the league’s best goalkeeper, the 35-year-old currently competes with Mes Rafsanjan in the domestic competition. The shot-stopper tends to hang back and let the game come to him instead of being a more aggressive combatant charging at the opponent. He has fast reactions from close range and does everything possible to keep the ball out of the goal, abandoning ideal form when adjusting to deflections or chaotic scenes in the box.

With veteran centre-back Al-Musalami retired from international play, Fahmi Durbin will have to assume more leadership. The Al-Nasr defender takes an active role during the possession build-up. His back-line partner could be Al-Shabab’s Khalid Al-Braiki, who has taken on a more active role over the past year and started three matches at the CAFA Nations Cup. He is a dangerous presence on set pieces, capable of scoring with headers or acrobatic volleys.

At left fullback is Ahmed Al-Kaabi of reigning champions Al-Nahda, who has earned 26 caps since making his debut in December of 2018 and played every available minute at the Arabian Gulf Cup and CAFA Nations Cup. He has reportedly become more of a defensive presence and will, at times, line up as a third centre-back. On the other side of the formation is Al-Seeb’s Ahmed Al-Khamisi, a relatively recent addition rising to regular status. The 31-year-old is an aggressive tackler and difficult to beat on the outside.

Lining up at the six is Harib Al-Saadi who recently moved to Al-Nahda and serves as the main option in the possession build-up with constant movement and the ability to spray the ball around the field. While not an aggressive defender, he intuitively steps into passing lanes and shuts down opponents with deft intercessions. His club teammate, Salaah Al-Yahyaei, assumes the number-ten role and has been a somewhat steady creator over the past two years. The 25-year-old covers the width and length of the field with tireless energy, equally comfortable playing in transition and launching crosses from the wing.

At left winger is Zahir Al-Aghbari of Al-Seeb, a productive attacker who always looks to take on the opponent. He forces the game and uses all manner of moves to create space, although his favorite appears to be a rudimentary yet beguiling slide dribble. Lining up on the right side is Al-Kharaitiyat’s Jameel Al-Yahmadi, the physical and pacey all-around talent who can unlock a back line in all manner of ways. At times, the 27-year-old serves as both a shuttler and the creative focal point in the final third.

Issam Al-Sabhi is one of the most reliable finishers over the past year for Oman. The 26-year-old recently joined reigning champions Al-Nahda after a stretch with Al-Suwaiq. He makes intelligent runs into space and has a fast first step to achieve separation from opponents. While not necessarily a player who creates his own shots, his finishing from crosses is fairly accurate with the traditional mix of headers and composed redirections. With Rabia Al-Alawi out, the likely complement is Muhsen Al-Ghassani of Al-Seeb, who found the back of the net in the 2-1 friendly win over Palestine. His combination of size and speed allows him to fulfill the scoring demands of the target role and also perform yeoman’s work on the wing.

On paper, the USMNT has a talent advantage and should be able to control proceedings. However, Oman possesses the horses to take advantage on the counter-attack, backed by an experienced manager. With expected roster rotation in the second match of the international window, the visitors could pull off a shock, albeit meaningless, result and begin the push for World Cup qualifying in earnest.

The match is scheduled for Tuesday, September 12th at 8:30 p.m. Eastern, 5:30 p.m. Pacific. Viewing options include TNT, Universo, Peacock, and FUBO TV (free trial).