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Five questions for the USMNT in September camp, friendlies

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You don’t have to love the facts and not kill the messenger.

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These are cautionary statements from this writer ahead of this post that will evaluate five things to watch out for during the US Men’s National Team September friendly matches against Japan and Saudi Arabia.

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[ MORE: Japan vs USMNT preview ]

With a red-hot Jordan Pefok, this roster was unexpectedly eliminatedalready raised threaten to go head-on, so a reminder:

Gregg Berhalter’s decisions are what we’re looking at here, not what any individual writer might have done (Jordan Pefok, John Brooks, Tim Rome, and Djordje Mihajlovic would really like to be taken by a particular person).

So read on as we evaluate the scores for the last two World Cup warm-ups as the precious tournament approaches with great vigor.

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What does Christian Pulisic look like (shape and face)?

Christian Pulisic is basically too good for CONCACAF. He is also too good to be a part-time player, which is what he does at Chelsea.

The intense USMNT forward has a permanent chip on his shoulder and should feel freed up as one of the team’s focal points.

The fact that the “one of” modifier is even included in the discussion about a player who was – and perhaps is – a talent of the generation of the program shows how golden the growth of young players in the program was; Weston McKenny, Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson are among the talents that continue to grow but have yet to hit their ceiling.

[ MORE: Ranking the 2022 World Cup kits ]

So who is the 24-year-old (as of Sunday) Pulisic right now and what is his mood? Is his 177 minutes out of 900 played for Chelsea this season the result of poor management or is it form in training?

Pulisic has yet to score a goal or provide an assist for Chelsea this season, but his USMNT career has no such slums. With 21 goals and 12 assists in 51 caps, it’s not all CONCACAF dominance, despite the fact that the new Nations League calendar dictates recent games have been against regional opponents; Pulisic provided two assists in a 3-0 win over Morocco and scored in a 2-1 away win over Northern Ireland.

The American’s game and body language will be read as often as his Roy Kent ad was on TV, which is fitting as the World Cup cycle is definitely full this time around. pressure-pressure-pressure-pressure.

How smart are Matt Turner and goalkeepers?

Some would argue that Arsenal’s substitute goalkeeper was already No. 1 on the USMNT goalkeeping depth chart, but Zach Steffen’s injury problems pretty much made the first shirt to be tackled if it wasn’t already.

Turner, 28, made 18 caps for the US national team and, when healthy, was the first man in the last three World Cup qualifiers. He has started every other game since returning for the June friendly and Nations League shutouts against Morocco and Grenada.

He was second only to Aaron Ramsdale after his move from Arsenal, but Turner made his Gunners and Europa League debut in a 2-1 win over Zurich in Switzerland.

So now Turner enters September camp as the clear No. 1 current challenge ahead of Luton Town’s Ethan Horvath and NYCFC’s Shawn Johnson.

It’s also an important camp for Horvath as it seems inevitable that Johnson will secure third goalie status. Johnson is five years older than Turner and six years older than Horvath and Steffen, and Berhalter praised the veteran a lot. The Croatian has been good for the Hatters in the Football League championship, but what if Steffen is healthy and there is only one spot left after Turner and Johnson?

Will the visiting drought end in Germany and Spain?

Some will dismiss this question, given that the high status of football in the United States certainly allows many games to be played within the United States, with limited opportunities to play outside of the United States.

But the Yankees are unbeaten in six games in a row, drawing with El Salvador, Mexico and Jamaica, losing to Costa Rica, Canada and Panama after beating Honduras 4-1 on San Pedro Sula September 8, 2021

Add to that the fact that this window’s friendlies are against strong, hungry Asian teams preparing for the World Cup, and you’ve got the makings of a proper challenge.

Japan beat South Korea in July and Ghana in June. Losses to Brazil and Tunisia show they can be beaten, but Japan has victories in the rearview over many World Cup competitors. In World Cup qualifying, Austria and Saudi Arabia together broke away from the Japanese by only three points (in Jeddah, the Saudis won with a score of 1:0).

Captain Maya Yoshia is not the only famous name in the Japanese national team. Arsenal’s Takehiro Tomiyasu, Monaco’s Takumi Minamino, Eintracht Frankfurt’s Daichi Kamada and Real Sociedad’s Takefuso Kubo are behind dangerous Celtic strikers Kyogo Furuhashi and Daizen Maeda.

As for Saudi Arabia, they won 13W-4D-1L in qualifying and played in a lot of 1-0, including Spain’s recent friendly defeats to Colombia and Venezuela. The team will also feel at home in Murcia, where they played these matches and where, four days before the match against Berhalter’s team, they will face Ecuador.

Simply put, this is a tough test for the USMNT. Berhalter’s team is ranked 14th in the FIFA rankings and 23rd in the Elo rankings.

Here’s where they lined up alongside their September rivals and World Cup group stage opponents:

  • England 5/12

  • USMNT 14/23

  • Wales 19/22

  • Iran 22/25

  • Japan 24/29

  • Saudi Arabia 53/59

Game(s) included.

Who, if anyone, can crash the party?

We have a pretty good idea of ​​Qatar’s definite and highly likely lineups.

First, let’s use a couple of surface metrics. Who was used in the official US Soccer jersey release video? And who is in the Panini sticker book for the 2022 World Cup?

Sticker book: Turner, Steffen, Dest, Long, Richards, A. Robinson, Yedlin, Zimmerman, Aaronson, Acosta, Adams, McKenny, Musa, Ferreira, Pepi, Pulisic, Reina, Weah

Jersey Discovery: Adams, Aaronson, Pulisic, A. Robinson, Long, McKenny, Zimmerman, Dest, Richards, Weah, Acosta, Ferreira, Musa, Arriola, Reina, Long, De La Torre, Yedlin, Morris, Carter-Vickers, Tillman.

Who can crash the party?

Josh Sargent, Johnny Cardoso, Joe Scully, Eric Palmer-Brown, Mark McKenzie, Reggie Cannon, Ethan Horvath and Sean Johnson are all on this month’s list, not in the above categories. McKenzie, Palmer-Brown and Cardoso have only been called out due to injuries, so this is a huge opportunity for them.

Where is the front-line focus now?

Injuries aside, we are confident that Pulisic, Aaronson, Arriola, Ferreira, Weah and Reina are ready to move to Qatar.

Doesn’t leave room for too many others, does it?

While position pools often dwindle so close to the tournament, what makes USMNT forwards so intriguing is that not only is the starting center vacancy still in the game, but it could come from someone who isn’t even into it. right now.

This is Jordan Pefok, who will oversee the discussions anyway, but will cast his shadow over them if one of the next players fails to make his own deal.

Ricardo Pepi had some brilliant outings at Groningen, entering the window with Josh Sargent, who was now fit and at some points in his tenure a very bright prospect.

Jordan Morris is a proven commodity, but Arriola’s seeming favorite means Berhalter will keep very similar guys on the field. However, the presence of Aaronson and Morris in this camp means that the September group plus Weah could very well be in Group.

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