The United States men’s national team is 180 minutes from Qatar. The World Cup, of course, is still two months away, but the USMNT is playing its final two pre-tournament friendlies this week and next – starting with a Friday game against Japan in Dusseldorf, Germany.
The game kicks off at 8:26 a.m. ET on ESPN2, TUDN, UniMás, and ESPN+. In a way, it’s an important dress rehearsal. But he was somewhat marred by injuries. In addition to the ailments that kept Tim Weah, Yunus Musah, Antonee Robinson, Chris Richards and others out of training camp this week, Christian Pulisic took a ‘hit’ in training this week, according to US Soccer, and will not play against Japan.
Pulisic is seen as ‘day-to-day’ and could fit next week. His absence is largely precautionary; if it was a World Cup match in November, he would play.
In his place, Gio Reyna and Brenden Aaronson have significant opportunities to start on the wings, and perhaps claim a starting spot in Qatar.
For the latest match updates, highlights and analysis, you can follow Yahoo Sports here.
What to watch in USA vs Japan
While much of the analysis (and fan outrage) last week centered on head coach Gregg Berhalter’s decisions on the sidelines of his 26-man roster, those 90 minutes against Japan will be widely used to refine a larger group: the starting 11. and several substitutes who are likely to play a key role in Qatar.
To that end, the two big questions Berhalter must answer: Who will start alongside Pulisic in attack? And who will partner Walker Zimmerman in defense?
Injuries complicated both issues. With Pulisic, Weah and Musah out, the United States will test some sort of plan B in the attacking third against Japan.
In defense, Richards and Cameron Carter-Vickers, two solid candidates to start in central defense, withdrew from this last training camp due to injury. Aaron Long will therefore form an entirely MLS tandem with Zimmerman at the heart of the American defense. They will have to prove that as a duo they have sufficient recovery speed to function in Berhalter’s high pressing system.
USMNT vs. Japan lineup
The full US team that will line up in a 4-3-3 against Japan is as follows (from back to front, left to right):
Matt Turner; Sam Vines, Aaron Long, Walker Zimmerman, Sergiño Dest; Tyler Adams, Luca de la Torre, Weston McKennie; Gio Reyna, Jesus Ferreira, Brenden Aaronson.
#USMNT #Japan #live #updates #Christian #Pulisic #misses #preWorld #Cup #friendly #minor #injury