Set your alarms – the USMNT is kicking off the weekend with an early Friday morning friendly against Japan.
The Stars and Stripes will battle The Samurai Blue in Dusseldorf, Germany, tomorrow morning, 5:26 am PST.
The fixture is the first of two USMNT pre-World Cup tune-ups for the USMNT. They will meet Saudi Arabia in beautiful Murcia, Spain, next Tuesday, the last day of the international break.
The US starting 11 is still under wraps, but head coach Gregg Berhalter has confirmed MLS products Aaron Long and Walker Zimmerman will anchor the defense, though the team is likely to change at halftime.
Berhalter also says Arsenal’s Matt Turner will start in goal and Antwerp’s Sam Vines will start at left-back. According to FOX soccer’s Doug McIntyre, either Josh Sargent, Brenden Aaronson, or Gio Reyna will replace the injured Yunus Musah in the midfield.
Japan has played the USMNT twice, with each squad winning one match.
Japan’s national team has performed well on the big stage. The Samurai Blue shocked Group H in the 2018 World Cup, barely losing to a highly-favored Belgium side in a come-from-behind win in the round of 16.
In 2022 World Cup qualifying, Japan finished second in Asian qualifying Group B behind Saudi Arabia, who the USMNT will play next week.
Japan is in Group E in Qatar and will be battling Spain, Germany, and Costa Rica for a ticket to the round of 16.
Spain and Germany are two of the favorites to win the whole thing, so the Japanese will need an upset to escape their group. Costa Rica is no joke either – Group E just might be the Group of Death.
Japan has killer goalscorers in Takumi Minamino and Ao Tanaka, representing Monaco and Fortuna Dusseldorf, respectively. Japan’s pressing attack will be a litmus test for the USMNT’s unproven defense. If they stay solid against Japan, they have no chance against England’s attack, spearheaded by the great Harry Kane.
The World Cup draws ever near. Hopefully, the USMNT can outperform their jerseys.
Who do you think will win tomorrow? Sound off below!
Featured Image: Pexels/Scott Webb/USSoccerFederation/JapanNationalFootballTeam/DM