USMNT’s friendly loss to Japan is a wake-up call at the World Cup

Friday’s friendly that began uncharacteristically early in the United States proved to be a sobering, and perhaps beneficial, wake-up call for American men.

Greg Berhalter wants his young team to play aggressively and directly, pressing the opponent into fouls and then exploiting quick runs and passes behind the defense. He wants to tilt the field, and for that purpose, he has said repeatedly that he plans to deploy a high tail line in Qatar. It is expected to be in the foreground.

Sometimes, however, the opponent has other plans. Facing an intelligent and energetic Japanese team that refused to allow the United States to establish a foothold or play on their strengths, the Americans collapsed and were easily defeated, 2-0, at Merkur Spiel-Arena in Dusseldorf, Germany. The United States made a series of twists and didn’t hit a single shot on target in their worst performance under Berhalter since losing in a World Cup qualifier in Panama last October. This game featured a highly spinning team playing in excessive humidity. On Friday in Germany, Americans were simply poor.

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