DUSSELDORF, Germany — With less than two months to go until the World Cup, the US Men’s National Team wanted to polish their game against Japan. Half-time goals from Daichi Kamata and Kaoru Mitoma ensured a 2-0 win.
The Americans seemed completely out of sync throughout the match, with the scoreline praising the American team’s dismal performance. Clearly there are a few things.
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1. The US does not respond to the Japanese media
Berhalter often wants his team to play on the front foot. But on this day, Japan gave the Americans their own taste of medicine and it worked perfectly. Hidemasa Morita found Kamata wide open on his side foot to fend off Matt Turner in the US goal.
The United States was also seemingly slow to react to anything, sometimes playing timidly, and no American was immune from turning the ball over. Was it nerves or played it safe with the World Cup looming?
The effectiveness of Japan’s pressure meant that the United States was rarely in a position to threaten Shuichi Gonda with a Japanese goal, with just five Japanese touches in the penalty area in the first half. 2019. Sergino Dest provided Jesús in the 8th minute with an attractive cross for Ferreira, but the FC Dallas striker could only puff his header over the bar. Ferreira’s lack of physical presence, combined with Christian Pulisic’s absence due to a knock, made Team USA’s struggle with the ball even worse. The United States looked a little threatened in the second half with Joshua Sargent on top, but not by much.
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Given that the USA had difficulty playing from the back (which was both a backline problem and a midfield problem), the Americans’ group stage opponents had a lot of trouble in this regard. It is only natural to pay attention to how to reach the defense of the United States.
2. Did Turner have the number one shirt in America?
The US had to thank Turner for going into halftime with just one point deficit. Especially in the 13th minute, Kamata’s save, which scored the goal following Walker Zimmerman’s shot, was impressive. He also commanded the box well and made routine saves that he was supposed to make.
The only complaint was Turner’s distribution in some cases, resulting in poor contact and accuracy with the ball. In the weeks remaining until the World Cup, he needs to hone that.
Was it enough to put his nose forward in the starting goalkeeper race? We will probably know the answer to this question with certainty in November.
3. Fringe players have little impact
When the opportunity arose for the final roster spot, there was little movement. Both Reggie Cannon and Mark McKenzie acquitted themselves as stand-ins, but there wasn’t much else to note. When it comes to starters, Sam Bynes didn’t up stock at all. So did Aaron Long, neither player caring about the pace of the match.
In fact, if anything, the day was marked by the absence of injured players. Attacking Pulisic, midfielder Yunus Musser and centre-back Chris Richards need to recover as soon as possible.
America: Matt Turner 8, Sam Vines 4, Aaron Long 4, Walker Zimmerman 5, Sergino Dest 5, Luca de la Torre 4, Tyler Adams 4, Weston McKennie 3, Giovanni Reyna 5, Jesus Ferreira 4, Brenden Aaronson 5
sub: Jordan Morris 5, Mark Mackenzie 6, Josh Sargent 5, Reggie Cannon 6, Malik Tillman 5, Johnny Cardoso 5
Japan: Shuichi Gonda 5, Takehiro Tomiyasu 6, Hiroki Sakai 7, Yuta Nakayama 7, Maya Yoshida 6, Wataru Endo 8, Takefusa Kubo 7, Yoshimasa Morita 6, Junya Ito 6, Daichi Kamata 7, Daizen Maeda 6
sub: Daniel Schmidt 5, Hideto Machino 5, Hiroki Ito 5, Kaoru Mitoma 7, Ritsu Doan 5, Genki Haraguchi N/R
best and worst performers
BEST: Daichi Kamata, Japan. There were several players to choose from. Endo ran the show in midfield and the center back pair of Sakai and Nakayama made up throughout, but Kamata took his goals well and was involved in several other clever build-ups.
Worst: Weston McKennie, USA The same was true on the other end of the spectrum, but McKennie’s freebie, which triggered the sequence leading to Kamata’s goal, stood out above the rest, as he completed only 69.2% of his passes.
highlights and notable moments
The numbers and accompanying charts speak to the powerlessness of the United States against Japan.
Successful passes in the attacking third so far:
Japan 35#USMNT Four
— Bill Connery (@ESPN_BillC) September 23, 2022
#USMNT First half touch…
🇺🇸 Pulisic Hall is back!
🇬🇧 Japan has 82 attacking third touches, USA 42 pic.twitter.com/DTtOvq56SA
— Paul Carr (@PaulCarr) September 23, 2022
USMNT has 0 shots on target against Japan 🙃 pic.twitter.com/LxshxQMRAG
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) September 23, 2022
Japan 2 – 0 USA
— US Analyst (@OptaAnalystUS) September 23, 2022
Japan fended off Cannon and the rest of the American defense and put the icing on the cake with a well-executed goal from Mitoma.
Japan wins USMNT 2-0, kicking off the international break🎯 pic.twitter.com/shduF3c28J
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) September 23, 2022
Post-match: Voices of players and coaches
bar halter: “There is work to be done. Clearly we need to improve.”
bar halter: “We have to play with character, we have to play relaxed, we have to play with intensity. We’re a really good team when we do these things…but , when we’re not, we’re just an average team.”
Key stats (Courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information)
– USA is 1W-3L-2D this year against teams that qualified for the World Cup in November.
– Friday marked the first time USMNT had zero shots on target since their 1-0 defeat to Panama in a World Cup qualifier in October 2021.
– Turner’s six saves were the second-most for a United States keeper under Verhalter, who took office in January 2019.
America: USMNT heads to Spain for a friendly against Saudi Arabia in Murcia on Tuesday. It will be their last match before their World Cup group stage opener against Wales on 21 November.
Japan: There are two more friendly forces on the docket. First in Düsseldorf and on Tuesday in Ecuador. They then play Canada in Dubai on November 17th, just one week before they face Germany on November 23rd in the World Cup.