The USMNT will play Japan and Saudi Arabia in a pair of international friendlies in Europe in September as Gregg Berhalter’s team continues to prepare for the World Cup in Qatar.
[ MORE: 2022 World Cup schedule in full ]
We already knew the USMNT were set to play two friendlies in Europe in September, their last games before the 2022 World Cup, and now we know the Yankees will take on two fellow qualifiers.
Samurai Blue have confirmed the friendly match on their social media account and it looks like they will be hosting the game.
Saudi Arabia recently lost a couple of friendlies 1-0 against Colombia and Venezuela in Spain.
The USMNT will face Japan on September 23 in Europe, the exact venue to be confirmed in due course. Then it will be Saudi Arabia on September 27 in Murcia, Spain.
What can we expect from Japan?
Both of these friendly matches are very sensible to organize as the vast majority of the USMNT team plays in Europe and travel will be very small.
Also, given that Iran is in the USMNT World Cup group, there is a lot to be said for playing against the other two opponents from the Asian confederation. Of course, all teams play differently, but both have very technical players in midfield and attack, and they don’t mind sitting back and preventing teams from breaking them.
Focusing on Japan, they easily made it to the World Cup thanks to qualification, finishing second in their group, one point behind Saudi Arabia and conceding just four goals in 10 games in the final round of qualifying in the AFC region. Japan will face Germany, Spain and Costa Rica in their World Cup group.
Japan’s star players are Liverpool’s Takumi Minamino, Arsenal’s Takehiro Tomiyasu and Eintracht Frankfurt’s Daichi Kamada, and although they have a lot of experienced players in their squad, just like in the US, they also have a lot of talented youngsters.
How about Saudi Arabia?
Hervé Renard’s Green Falcons are based entirely in Saudi Arabia and struggled through the Arab Cup after shining in World Cup qualifiers.
By beating Japan and drawing with Australia, Saudi Arabia will be an organized tough test on European soil.
Al-Hilal winger Salem Al-Dawsari leads the team’s attack, while teammate Yasser Al-Shahrani holds the back.
What will the USMNT focus on?
As we focus specifically on USMNT, the chance to take one last look at centre-backs and centre-forwards will be invaluable as those two positions are still open for Berhalter.
It would have been nice if USMNT could play against a European team whose style is similar to Wales and England to prepare for those World Cup group stage games, but due to the UEFA Nations League, that was not possible in that window.
Gregg Berhalter learns a lot about his younger side in these two tough challenges.