The United States Men’s National Team has some work to do after a disappointing 2-0 loss to Japan today in a friendly in Düsseldorf, Germany. The USMNT leaves that match with some questions that need to be answered with the World Cup eight weeks away.
The USMNT only shot the ball four times in the loss, while the Blue Samurai got 16 shots on the pitch thanks to their aggressiveness. The USMNT lost possession 54 times in the first half.
Daichi Kamada put Japan on the board first with his backside goal in the 25th minute, assisted by Hidemasa Morita. However, immediately the goal was taken off the board as the side judge called Kamada offside.
The VAR (even though there wasn’t supposed to be VAR) determined Kamada was not offside, and the goal stood. It was the ultimate example of the USMNT’s sloppiness in their defensive third.
“I think we ended up hurting ourselves too much in the game with silly giveaways,” head coach Gregg Berhalter said after the match. “Give Japan a lot of credit, good team, competitive team, they pressed well, but we can do better.”
Matt Turner started in the net for the USMNT and had a decent showing despite allowing two goals. However, the centerbacks didn’t protect Turner. Aaron Long and Walker Zimmerman left a vital concern for the position with their poor performance. The Blue Samurai spent a lot of time in the final third, putting 42% of their shots on target.
“I wish we had more bite about us,” Turner said about the team’s lackluster performance. “We made some big improvements in the second half, but at the end, [Japan] was a bit more competitive than us on the 50-50 balls, the restarts, all of that stuff. So I think they deserved to win this one.”
Kaoru Mitoma scored the dagger in the 88th minute, pushing through the center to get a shot off to the right side of the goal, out of Turner’s reach.
Berhalter also said he wanted to see more personality from his team, but it’s hard to determine this squad’s identity with the continued road struggles. With the World Cup looming, a win on foreign soil is needed.
Saudi Arabia is next, and while a road win can take the monkey off their backs, who will establish themselves as an important figure on this team?