Tomorrow, the United States Men’s National Team will play its first friendly of the September international window when they take on Japan in Düsseldorf, Germany. It marks the second to last match the USMNT will play before they open up group play at the 2022 World Cup in November.
It’s a chance for the team to test itself against an opponent that will also be in Qatar for the World Cup, a dangerous Japan squad that has the ability to defeat any team. It’s also an opportunity for Gregg Berhalter to test out possible lineup combinations while the players make their final cases for why they should be one of the 26 players that makes the final roster when it’s announced on November 9th. That will be motivation that will help to make this an entertaining match.
D (1-1) - El Salvador - Concacaf Nations League
W (5-0) - Grenada - Concacaf Nations League
D (0-0) - Uruguay - Friendly
W (3-0) - Morocco - Friendly
L (0-2) - Costa Rica - World Cup Qualifying
W (3-0) - South Korea - EAFF E-1 Football Championship
D (0-0) - China - EAFF E-1 Football Championship
W (6-0) - Hong Kong - EAFF E-1 Football Championship
L (0-3) - Tunisia - Kirin Cup
W (4-1) - Ghana - Kirin Cup
What To Watch For
Maintain possession. The USMNT will want to maintain a lot of possession to keep the ball off the feet of Japan’s stars. It will also be a nice chance to test whether possession ball is something that the USMNT can play at the World Cup if needed.
Take chances on offense. If Gregg Berhalter can get many of his creative players on the field, then they should try to take some chances on offense. This is the time to see what works and what doesn’t, and they should take full advantage of that opportunity to see what chemistry they have between players who can push the ball forward.
Play clean soccer. The idea here is no mistakes. Of course, that’s always the goal. But, Japan thrives with players who can turn a mistake into points on the other end. The USMTN won’t give them a chance to do that if they keep Japan in front of them and if they do take shots downfield, that they have the cover to get back should Japan counter.
There are some injuries at a couple of positions, but Gregg Berhalter still has a few options at several spots on the field. So, we’ll likely see this lineup from him tomorrow:
Matt Turner will be the goalkeeper, while Sergiño Dest will return at right back. Walker Zimmerman and Aaron Long will once again be the centerback pairing, with Joe Scally taking Antonee Robinson’s place at left back.
It’s an opportunity for Gregg Berhalter to examine what a midfield that produces tons of creativity would look like. Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie are joined by Brenden Aaronson in the middle to see how you get your best players on the field at the same time.
Up front, Christian Pulisic will be back in the lineup at left wing, with Gio Reyna making his return at right wing. While Jesus Ferreira has played extremely well this year for club and country, the gut feeling is that Josh Sargent will get the start at the 9 to see if he can seize the moment and fight for a starting role on the World Cup team.
The USMNT will have a difficult time trying to get things together initially. In the end, neither team shows too much and it’s a 1-1 draw.