United States Tyler Adams, left, and United States Joshua Sargent, right, playing during the international friendly soccer match between USA and Japan as part of the Kirin Challenge Cup in Duesseldorf, Germany, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Japan defeats USMNT 2-0 in International Friendly

The United States Men’s National Soccer team clearly has work to do on the pitch. Japan dominated the USMNT 2-0 in an international friendly Friday morning.


Struggling Defense

The Americans looked lackluster throughout the match. Additionally, the team looked sluggish and uninterested defensively, lacking defensive shape. Fullbacks Sergiñ0 Dest and Sam Vines were often nowhere to be found. Japan played a 4-4-2, pressing high which punished the Americans.

In the first half alone, the Americans gave the ball up 39 times in their own defensive third.

Offensively, they were unable to get anything going. Starters Brendan Aaronson, Jesus Ferreira and Giovani Reyna did not have their best game. The United States did not have a shot on target throughout the match.

The scoring was opened with a goal from Japan’s Daichi Kamada. American midfielder Weston McKennie gave up the ball near midfield, leading to a Japanese counterattack. Dest failed to track back and Kamada was wide open. Walker Zimmerman was too far over to get back in time and Kamada easily curled the ball around goalkeeper Matt Turner into the bottom corner of the net.

USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter made four substitutions at halftime, replacing the struggling defenders Dest and Aaron Long.

The Americans were able to rally and improve their play throughout the second half. Substitutions were able to help shore up the defending, although Japan’s Kaoru Mitoma was able to double his squad’s lead over the United States.


Offense No Where to be Found

The attack was stale throughout the match. Starters Ferreira, Reyna and Aaronson were unable to get anything going offensively. Furthermore, substitutes Josh Sargent, Jordan Morris and Malik Tillman offered little change.

This was a team clearly lacking offensive prowess throughout the match. The squad clearly needed a pure striker, as Ferreira was poor and the substitutes were unable to get anything going. Also, USMNT Captain Christian Pulisic also missed the match, leaving the squad somewhat stranded offensively.

Per ESPN, the United States now falls to 1-3-2 this year against teams that have qualified for the 2022 World Cup. Berhalter’s squad clearly has a lot of work to do before the international tournament.

The USMNT will continue their campaign against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday in Spain.

About Connor O'Bryan

Connor O'Bryan is a world soccer reporter for ESPN Gainesville. He also sometimes covers baseball and other sports. He has previously written for WUFT Gainesville and for Atrium Magazine. Connor also cohosts the "Off The Bar Podcast", a student driven podcast that focuses on the global soccer landscape.

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