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5 takeaways from U.S. men’s soccer team’s friendly loss to Japan

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5 Notes from USMNT’s friendly loss to Japan originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Friday’s international match against Japan was not very friendly for the US men’s national team.

USMNT fell 2-0 Alongside Japan, who looked on equal footing as they prepare for a tough battle in Group E in Qatar, which includes Spain, Germany and Costa Rica.

However, the United States was the exact opposite as its parentheses were for group b Includes England, Wales and Iran in the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Before the USMNT shrugs off this loss and prepares for Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, let’s take a look at five points from the game:

Injuries have their effect

If you’re looking at the half-glass-full side of this loss, look no further. The USMNT has been having a tough bout of injury lately with key caliber players like Antonee Robinson, Yunus Musah, Miles Robinson, Timothy Weah, Chris Richards and more. When a team has this problem, it’s hard to replicate the potential quality of 11 starts when half of that group is out.

That doesn’t give coach Greg Berhalter any excuses – he was underperforming and he will need to improve his squad. But he will have to hope to have the best possible team at his disposal by November.

The attack in the last third lacks creativity

Christian Pulisic was healthy before kick-off until a late kick knocked him out. Having him available may have helped provide some offensive juice down the left, but it’s hard to tell given how poor the rest of the squad is.

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Giovanni Reina and Brenden Aronson have stepped up to play on the flanks, but both are clearly better off attacking the 8 or 10 rather than trying to build from the wing. Japan defender Taikiru Tomiyasu, and Arsenal in particular, stopped several moves as he rotated along the defensive line to play the role of central defender and right-back.

Jesus Ferreira will need to be more clinical

Competition #9 at the start is arguably the most important that Berhalter has to watch before November. While Ferreira is currently number one, he will need to be in and out of the game to maintain that job, especially with Jordan Pivok left out of the September squad.

Ferreira got a sparkling cross finish from Sergino Dest in the opening minutes as shown above, but slashed his header over the bar rather than pointing it down with Japan goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda off position.

Matt Turner made his case to start in Qatar

Although the USMNT defense line struggled a lot throughout the 90 minutes, new Arsenal goalkeeper Matt Turner made several important saves that prevented the score from getting worse than 2-0.

Turner hasn’t featured much for Arsenal since leaving New England Revolution In the summer transfer window, however, Japan had eight shots on target and only two entered. That level of shock will be vital in Qatar, but bringing down Aaron Long may be the way to go for Berhalter. He was one of the key players to be substituted, and while having a left center back is crucial to some coaching systems, Mark McKenzie looked much better when he replaced the New York Red Bulls defender.

Exiting Group B will not be easy

Looking at Group B teams on paper, it’s fair to say that USMNT has the second best roster when it’s healthy. Of course, England are the favorites to top the group while Wales and Iran should be second. However, if the US puts up such a performance in Qatar, it is a safe bet to say that it could rank fourth in the group.

Given Iran’s 1-0 win over Uruguay in a friendly and Wales close to some European powers, the USMNT is headed in the wrong direction in terms of form as November approaches. The friendly against Saudi Arabia is the team’s last game together before they face Wales to open the group stage, so let’s see if the Americans can steer the ship in the right direction.

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