United States Men’s National Team Underwhelms in Final Matches Before World Cup

World Cup

The USMNT played Saudi Arabia to a 0-0 draw on Tuesday afternoon in Murcia, Spain. The disappointing result comes just four days after the U.S. lost to Japan 2-0. Players will now return to their club teams for several weeks before the call-up period for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, which begins on November 14.

Instead of acting as a positive springboard leading up to the World Cup, these games have prompted more questions regarding the form and readiness of Coach Gregg Berhalter’s side.

In the match against Saudi Arabia, the Americans controlled the ball for most of the match, possessing it 55% of the time. No clear chances ever materialized, though, with creativity and execution lacking in the final third. The U.S. only managed seven total shots and just two shots on goal, compared to Saudi Arabia’s ten shots, with two of them being on target.

Christian Pulisic Still Confident After Another Disappointing Result

When asked about the match, Christian Pulisic said, “We have to do more to figure out what we’re going to do to create chances at the end of the day. But there are definitely some positives to take from the game and a clean sheet is always good.

A big factor in a team’s success in general, let alone in a major tournament, is confidence. Unfortunately for fans of the USMNT, there is not much to be confident about after these last two performances. Even still, Pulisic shrugged off the notion of the team panicking. He said, “I’m not panicked at all. We have a fresh slate going into the World Cup and we’re going to give it everything that we have.”

Christian Pulicic was also asked about the pressure mounting on his shoulders. He responded, “I don’t think there’s too much pressure. I feel good. I feel healthy. I’m starting to get [my] fitness back. Obviously, I’m going to try to get as much time on the field as I can at the club level, and get myself ready for this World Cup.”

Unfortunately for Pulisic and the Americans, he has not been getting much playing time for his club team, Chelsea. That will hopefully change though, with the club hiring Graham Potter as the new manager.

Looking Forward to Qatar and the 2022 FIFA World Cup

With a little over a month to go until the soccer world descends upon Qatar, the U.S. must learn from the mistakes made over the last two games. It’s better to lose or draw now than it is in the World Cup. The Americans will need to shore up the sloppy play out of their defensive third. Both Japan and Saudi Arabia had the majority of their chances come after bad giveaways from errant passes, and frankly, the U.S. has looked very susceptible at the back.

The USMNT needs to be more creative and take more chances with their attacking play. Too often, it seemed someone would hold the ball too long and allow the defense to recover and mark up or make a tackle. Earlier crosses will help put more pressure on opposing defenses. Strikers also need to be more disciplined and test the goalkeeper with shots on target.

It may seem hard to imagine now, on the heels of two profoundly disappointing matches, but if the U.S. can come out strong in their opening match against Wales and get a good result, the confidence will begin to build, and we could very well see the U.S. advance to the knockout stage.

One thing for sure is that the world will not be expecting the USMNT to perform well, and that could actually end up being positive, as there are no lofty expectations to live up to. As for this writer, to quote the USMNT rallying chant, “I believe that we will win.”


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