USMNT to face Japan and Saudi Arabia in World Cup build-up

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The USMNT will play Japan and Saudi Arabia in two international friendlies in Europe in September as Gregg Berhalter’s side continue to prepare for this winter’s World Cup in Qatar.

[ MORE: 2022 World Cup schedule in full ]

We already knew the USMNT would be playing two friendlies in Europe in September, their final games before the 2022 World Cup, and now we know the Yanks will face two more tournament qualifiers.

Samurai Blue have confirmed the friendly match on their social media account and it looks like they will be hosting the game.

Saudi Arabia recently lost a pair of friendlies 1-0 to Colombia and Venezuela in Spain.

The USMNT will face Japan on September 23 in Europe and the exact location will be confirmed in due course. Then it will be Saudi Arabia on September 27 in Murcia, Spain.

What can we expect from Japan?

They are two very smart friendlies to organize because the vast majority of the USMNT team plays in Europe and there will be very little travel.

Plus, given that Iran is in the USMNT World Cup squad, there’s a lot to be said for facing two other opponents from the Asian confederation. Of course, all teams play differently, but both have very technical players in midfield and in attack and they don’t mind sitting down and making it difficult for teams to break them down.

Focusing on Japan, they qualified for the World Cup through qualifying by finishing second in their group, one point behind Saudi Arabia, and conceding just four goals in 10 games in the final round qualification 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 a lot of experienced players in their squad, like in the United States, they also have a lot of youngsters talented.

And Saudi Arabia?

Herve Renard’s Green Falcons are based entirely in Saudi Arabia and struggled in the Arab Cup after shining in World Cup qualifying.

After beating Japan and drawing Australia, Saudi Arabia will be an organized and tough test on European soil.

Al-Hilal winger Salem Al-Dawsari leads the team’s attack and club teammate Yasser Al-Shahrani keeps things at the back.

What will the USMNT focus on?

When we focus specifically on the USMNT, the chance to get one last look at centre-backs and centre-forwards will be invaluable as these two positions are always up for grabs for Berhalter.

It would have been nice if the USMNT could play against a European team with a similar style to Wales and England to prepare for those World Cup group stage matches, but due to the UEFA Nations League, it was not possible in this window.

Gregg Berhalter will learn a lot about his young team during these two difficult events.

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