Plenty of Glitter, but No Goal: Top 5 Takeaways From the Saudi Arabia-USMNT Friendly

The USMNT played better against Saudi Arabia yesterday than they did against Japan, as if that were a difficult thing to do.

The Stars and Stripes lacked finishing finesse against the Saudis, the FIFA lowest ranked team in this year’s 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The US is stiff where they should be fluid, weak where they should be strong, and tepid where they should be boiling.

Though international friendlies are rarely accurate litmus tests, Uncle Sam’s Army has a laundry list of improvements to make before their next match – their WC 2022 opener against Wales.

Here are the top 5 takeaways from the US’s friendly against Saudi Arabia yesterday.

1 – Pulisic’s still got it, even if he is a bit rusty.

Christian Pulisic returned from a minor injury to start at left wing alongside Ricardo Pepi and Gio Reyna. CP10 looked strong in the attack, creative with the ball at his feet, and active off the ball. His only rustiness showed in finishing – it just wasn’t there for him or any of the boys yesterday. 

2 – Better team attacking, though still lacking a finisher.

Though half-beast-half-man-half-dawg Tyler Adams had the top shot of the evening, Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Gio Reyna created the squad’s most promising chances, only lacking a Lewandowski-esque finisher to capitalize. (We hear Pefok is available.) The US attack seemed undeniable for the first half hour, but it lost its steam soon after.

3 – This MLS defense won’t make it out of group stages.

To be certain – the MLS players are not the only ones making costly errors. The reliably solid Sergiño Dest was shaky AF yesterday, making elementary mistakes passing out of the back. The above video is just one of many mistakes from MLS All-Stars Aaron Long, Walker Zimmerman, and even Kellyn Acosta yesterday. All of our Group B competitors have more than enough firepower to blow this MLS defense up.

4 – We must protect Reyna at all costs.

Borussia Dortmund winger Gio Reyna was silky smooth on the ball yesterday. The teenager has struggled with lingering hamstring issues for years, so his unplanned sub at the half-hour mark is concerning. His exit has been played down as “precautionary” due to “muscle tightness.” Reyna’s fitness is critical to US World Cup success – hopefully, it’s nothing serious.

5 – This will be Berhalter’s last tournament as head coach.

Berhalter’s time as the USMNT head coach should be over after this tournament, especially if we fail to survive the group stage. His inability to mold his system to available talent displays an astounding lack of creativity and tactical know-how. Plus, just look at that answer above – one gets a clear impression that USMNT HC GGG’s view is just as muddled as ever.

What do you think about yesterday’s friendly? Sound off below!

Featured Image: Pexels/Anni Roenkae/USSoccerFederation/DM

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