Tomorrow, the United States Men’s National Team will play its final friendly before the 2022 World Cup when they take on Saudi Arabia in Murcia, Spain. It’s the final opportunity for the USMNT to evaluate where they are against another team that will head to Qatar in November.
The USMNT head to Murcia, which has become a home away from home for Saudi Arabia. Tuesday’s friendly will be the 4th straight the Saudis have played in Murcia, so the Americans will take the field against an opponent that understands its surroundings. Still, with World Cup spots on the line, the USMNT need to put on a good show and individual players will want to leave that final positive impression on the mind of head coach Gregg Berhalter, who will name his World Cup roster on November 9th.
L (0-2) - Japan - Friendly
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
D (0-0) - Ecuador - Friendly
L (0-1) - Venezuela - Friendly
L (0-1) - Colombia - Friendly
W (1-0) - Australia - World Cup Qualifying
D (1-1) - China - World Cup Qualifying
What To Watch For
Back line needs to be better. The USMNT had several mistakes on defense against Japan, and they cannot duplicate that against a Saudi Arabia team who can take advantage of them. The back line needs to play mistake free, but they also have to play with poise.
Take shots. You can’t win if you don’t shoot. Against Japan, the USMNT did not register a shot on goal, and that doesn’t help you win matches. The team needs to be more creative on offense and more ruthless in the attacking third by putting a ton of shots on net.
Possession doesn’t mean a thing without production. The USMNT had close to 60% possession against Japan, but that didn’t matter because there was no production. The USMNT has to figure out how to turn possession into production, moving the ball forward and creating scoring chances. They have to do that against the Green Falcons.
With Reggie Cannon out for several weeks due to an injury he picked up against Japan, the back line options get a bit thinner. Combined with the other changes that we think are coming, this is what we predict Gregg Berhalter will do tomorrow:
Matt Turner will once again start in goal, while the back line will have a couple of changes. DeAndre Yedlin gets the start at right back with Mark McKenzie lining up alongside Walker Zimmerman as the centerback pairing. Sergiño Dest starts at left back.
In the middle, Kellyn Acosta lines up alongside Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie in the middle, with McKennie being the guy that moves forward on the attack. Up front, Christian Pulisic returns to the lineup at left wing after being held out against Japan, with Brenden Aaronson starting at right wing ahead of Gio Reyna, a player who will likely have his minutes managed by entering as a substitute. Ricardo Pepi gets his opportunity to start at the 9 to see if his recent move to Groningen has helped his confidence.
It turns into another sluggish affair for the USMNT, but they manage to get one on the board. They hang on for a 1-1 draw.