The USMNT will play against Japan and Saudi Arabia in a pair of international friendly games in Europe in September as Gregg Berhalter’s side continues to build for this winter’s World Cup in Qatar.
[ MORE: 2022 World Cup schedule in full ]
We already knew the USMNT was heading to play two friendlies in Europe in September, their final games before the 2022 World Cup, and now we know the Yanks will face two fellow tournament qualifiers.
The Samurai Blue have confirmed the friendly on their social media account and it looks like they will be the hosts for the game.
Saudi Arabia recently dropped a pair of 1-0 friendlies to Colombia and Venezuela in Spain.
The USMNT will face Japan on Sept. 23 in Europe with the exact location will be confirmed in due course. Then it’ll be Saudi Arabia on Sept. 27 in Murcia, Spain.
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What can we expect from Japan?
This is a very smart friendly to arrange as the vast majority of the USMNT’s squad play in Europe and there will be very little travel involved.
Also, given that Iran are in the USMNT’s World Cup group there is a lot to be said about playing another opponent from the Asian confederation. Of course, Iran and Japan played differently but both have very technical players in midfield and attack and don’t mind sitting back and making it difficult for teams to break them down.
🇯🇵 #SAMURAIBLUE 🇯🇵
🔹対 戦 国 決 定🔹
— サッカー日本代表🇯🇵 (@jfa_samuraiblue) June 21, 2022
Focusing on Japan, the eased into the World Cup through qualifying as they finished second in their group, one point behind Saudi Arabia, and conceded 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 plenty of experienced players in their squad, similar to the U.S. they also have plenty of talented youngsters coming through.
How about Saudi Arabia?
Herve Renard’s Green Falcons are entirely based in Saudi Arabia and struggled through the Arab Cup after shining in World Cup qualifying.
Having beaten Japan and drawn Australia, Saudi Arabia will be an organized, stiff test on European soil.
Al-Hilal winger Salem Al-Dawsari leads the team attack and club teammate Yasser Al-Shahrani holds things down at the back.
What will USMNT be focusing on?
When we focus on the USMNT specifically the chance to have one final look at center backs and center forwards will be invaluable as those two positions are still up for grabs for Berhalter.
It will be intriguing to see who the USMNT’s other opponent is in Europe in September but you can almost guarantee it will be a team who play a similar style to Wales and England as prepping for those World Cup group stage games is now the sole focus for Berhalter.