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USMNT Struggles in Two World Cup Warm-ups

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USMNT falls to Japan in concerning pre-World Cup defeat. | Image by Getty Images

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The United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) traveled to Dusseldorf, Germany, and then Murcia, Spain, within a week to play in two “friendlies” as a warm-up exercise ahead of the start of World Cup soccer action in November.

The USMNT failed to score in either contest and struggled to compete against both Japan and Saudi Arabia through the full 90 minutes of action.

The first match the USMNT participated in was last Friday in Germany, where the men’s team took on Japan. The U.S. team was outplayed in all facets of the game, failing to notch even one on-target shot. The closest shot on goal came from FC Dallas’ Jesus Ferreira, who hit a header ball on a corner cross that went over the bar.

Japan scored an opening goal in the first half on a pass to Kaoru Mitoma from Hidemasa Morita, firing a curve shot past goalkeeper Matt Turner, an American player who plays for Arsenal of the English Premier League. Turner had six saves on the day, including several from short-range.

The score was almost negated by an offsides penalty called against Japan on the score, but officials reviewed the call and waved off the flag, giving Japan the 1-0 lead in the 24th minute.

Mitoma scored the second point of the day on a streaking breakaway that saw the player escape two would-be defenders and go one-on-one with Turner for the score in the bottom of the net.  Coming at the 88th minute of play, the goal was the backbreaker for the USMNT in the match.

The second match of the week saw the team travel to Spain on Tuesday to face Saudi Arabia in the final run-up. After facing a high concentration of shots from Japan, Turner had a quieter game, turning in two saves to close out his 14th clean sheet in 20 games.

The majority of the match was fought between the boxes with valiant efforts by midfielders and defense on both sides that kept opportunities low for both teams.

As they have done repeatedly this season, FC Dallas’ Paul Arriola and Ferreira nearly connected to give the USMNT a score. Arriola slipped a perfect feed pass to the top of the box where Ferreira was in position for the shot, but goalkeeper Mohammed al-Rubaie al-Yami was in a position to make the save. The game ended in a draw, as neither team managed to score.

The two players from Dallas both saw action in the second match, coming in off the bench at the half to rotate out the starters, while only Ferreira appeared in the match against Japan. The pair will now return to Dallas and rejoin the team in advance of the final two games of the regular season. As the 2022 MLS season wraps up, the final games will determine playoff seeding for which FC Dallas has already qualified.

The two international matches don’t count in the standings, and the USMNT has already qualified for the 2022 World Cup action in Qatar. Matches begin in late November after the conclusion of the MLS season.

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