USMNT vs. Japan instant reaction! 5 questions, 5 answers ahead of the World Cup

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  • How did the U.S. men’s national team play against Japan in one of their last games ahead of the World Cup? Let’s talk about that

Let’s talk about USMNT 0-2 Japan, shall we?

I’m sharing my quick thoughts on the United States’ latest match in the form of answers to five specific questions. We’ll also have a more detailed piece out soon on some of the key tactics, performances, and takeaways from the game.

Here we go.

What’s your one sentence reaction to that game?

This is the kind of quick, proactive, quality soccer Berhalter always wanted the USMNT to play…wait, Japan are in blue?

Okay, I stole that sentence directly from Total Soccer Show co-host Graham Ruthven, but it’s so true that I just couldn’t help myself.

Can you give me a little more than that?

The USMNT struggled for large stretches of this one. They lost possession over and over and over again in the first half and failed to break out of Japan’s 4-4-2 press. The result? Japan won the ball, broke forward, and punished the U.S. with their opener in the 24th minute.

With all of their turnovers, the U.S. failed to truly settle into the attack. There were some nice passing moves, especially in the opening 10 minutes, but the U.S. didn’t break into the box on any sort of consistent basis. They registered two shots and a grand total of five touches inside the box in the first half.

Things were a little better in the second half when the U.S. made some subs and changed their shape. But they still weren’t truly dangerous in the attack. Matt Turner kept things close, but outside of him, there wasn’t a lot to like about the United States in this game.

Whose stock is up for the World Cup?

Turner. He made a huge save in the first half to keep Japan off the board and came up big in a couple of other moments for the United States. There’s a reason why Arsenal paid millions of dollars for Turner earlier this year. It’s because he does stuff like this on a regular basis.

For me, the starting goalkeeper job is his to lose and at this point, I’d be surprised if Gregg Berhalter doesn’t feel the same way.

Whose stock is down?

This is a long list. 

Aaron Long and Walker Zimmerman had some brutal turnovers in the first half, which served as a reminder that the U.S. is going to have a difficult time of playing out of pressure if they’re starting at the World Cup.

Luca de la Torre was part of the turnover problem too, as were Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams. There are a few other names that could pop up in this section, but we’ll leave it at that, for now.

Did Berhalter use any new tactics?

Not really, no. We saw two different shapes from the U.S. in this game. In the first half, they possessed out of a 4-3-3 with Tyler Adams as the single pivot. In the second half, they possessed out of a 3-2-5 shape. Reggie Cannon, who subbed on for Sergiño Dest at halftime, played as the right-sided center back in possession and as a right back in defense.

Their was some fluidity in each line, but nothing that we haven’t seen before from Berhalter’s USMNT.