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USMNT ends worldwide break with extra questions than solutions


By Doug McIntyre
FOX Sports activities Soccer Author

The US males’s nationwide staff performed to a disappointing scoreless draw with Saudi Arabia Tuesday in Murcia, Spain, of their ultimate sport earlier than the 2022 FIFA World Cup kicks off in Qatar in November.

The tie comes on the heels of final week’s dreadful 2-0 loss to Japan, elevating severe questions on how far the People — who reached the second spherical at each the 2010 and 2014 World Cups earlier than failing to qualify for the planet’s greatest sporting occasion 4 years in the past — can go at this yr’s occasion.

Listed here are three ideas on Tuesday’s match:

involved Gio Reyna sub compounds US frustrations

Failing to win or play effectively in any respect in both of their final two tune-ups is dangerous sufficient. Seeing Gio Reyna go away the sphere and head on to the locker room after an unplanned thirtieth minute substitution Tuesday makes it worse.

“He felt some tightness and got here out for precautionary causes,” stated US coach Gregg Berhalter, who confirmed the twinge occurred in Reyna’s hamstring.

That is not an excellent signal.

The plan for the 19-year-old, who missed many of the 2021-22 season with hamstring points, was by no means to play all 90 minutes in each of those September friendlies. However Reyna was supposed to have the ability to go for at the very least the whole first half in opposition to the Saudis, as he had in opposition to the Blue Samurai final week.

On the one hand, it is sensible for the US employees to not take any probabilities with certainly one of their most proficient attacking gamers. On the opposite, the World Cup is now lower than eight weeks away. It is fully honest to surprise how reasonable it’s to count on Reyna to play a significant half for his nation of him in Qatar if he is nonetheless not again to full health by then.

Reyna is without doubt one of the few People who can change a sport on his personal, so the US will gladly take him even when he is restricted to a task off the bench. It is not ultimate, although. As these two matches confirmed, the USMNT wants all the assistance it could get.

People higher defensively however sloppy in assault as soon as once more

Berhalter and his gamers had been fast to confess that the efficiency in opposition to Japan wasn’t acceptable. They vowed to be higher on this one. Higher they had been—however not by practically sufficient.

“As an alternative of popping out and actually performing like a staff, we lacked just a little confidence,” Berhalter stated in his post-match information convention. “There have been definitely areas to benefit from in the present day, and we did not do this sufficient.”

A minimum of the US managed a few pictures on purpose on this one after not placing a single effort on course in opposition to Japan.

Like final week, they solely created one really harmful scoring likelihood. Like final week, Jesus Ferreira — who got here on earlier than the hour mark for the ineffective Ricardo Pepi — was unable to transform it.

And Tuesday’s attacking troubles got here with star winger Christian Pulisic, who sat out final Friday due to a minor ailment, taking part in all however the ultimate quarter-hour of the competition.

Defensively, the coach caught with heart again pairing Aaron Lengthy and Walker Zimmerman however moved Sergiño Dest from his regular spot at proper again to the left to make room for DeAndre Yedlin. Whereas the People did not give the ball away with practically as steadily as they did of their final outing, there have been nonetheless a few nervy moments that keeper Matt Turner was pressured to bail them out of — particularly after Mark McKenzie changed Lengthy within the second half.

USMNT should be much better on the World Cup

The hope for the US is that the 2 surefire starters lacking this month due to damage (Yunus Musah, Antonee Robinson) aren’t solely good to go when the curtain goes up on the most important occasion, however that their presence helps restore a number of the self -belief that Berhalter stated was missing over these final two matches.

The US will want much more than that if they’re to outlive group play on the World Cup, although. Pulisic, Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie will all need to each keep away from damage and sharpen their type over these subsequent eight weeks, too, taking their teammates on their backs within the course of.

“I do know when the blokes are assured we’re a really harmful staff, a really dynamic staff,” Berhalter stated.

Can this younger US squad show that when issues most? It is onerous to make certain primarily based on this newest proof. If the People are to achieve success in Qatar, they have to play like a unique staff than the one they had been in September.

One of many main soccer journalists in North America, Doug McIntyre has coated United States males’s and girls’s nationwide groups at a number of FIFA World Cups. Earlier than becoming a member of FOX Sports activities in 2021, he was a employees author with ESPN and Yahoo Sports activities. Observe him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.

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