Preview: USMNT Kicks Off Final World Cup Preparations With Friendly Against Japan In Düsseldorf, GermanyUSA Set for Friendlies Against Fellow World Cup Finalists Japan and Saudi Arabia During September International Window; Kickoff from Düsseldorf Arena Set for Friday at 8:26 a.m. ET on ESPN2, ESPN+, UniMás, TUDN
CHICAGO (Sept. 22, 2022) – Two months ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the U.S. Men’s National Team will play its final two preparation matches during the September international window against fellow World Cup finalists Japan and Saudi Arabia in Europe.
First up, the U.S. faces the Samurai Blue in Düsseldorf, Germany. Kickoff for Japan-USA from Düsseldorf Arena is set for 8:26 a.m. ET (ESPN2, ESPN+, UniMás, TUDN).
One of six AFC teams to qualify for Qatar, Asian power Japan is currently ranked 24th in the world and is competing in its seventh straight World Cup. Friday’s match is the USA’s third meeting all-time with Japan and just the second game against Asian opposition during head coach Gregg Berhalter’s tenure.
USMNT ROSTER BY POSITION - SEPTEMBER TRAINING CAMP
GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Luton Town/ENG; 8/0), Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 10/0), Matt Turner (Arsenal/ENG; 18/0)
DEFENDERS (9): Reggie Cannon (Boavista/POR; 27/1), Sergiño Dest (AC Milan/ITA; 17/2), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 27/3), Mark McKenzie (Genk/BEL; 8/0), Erik Palmer-Brown (Troyes/FRA; 4/0), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach/GER; 2/0), Sam Vines (Royal Antwerp/BEL; 8/1), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami; 74/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 31/3)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Kellyn Acosta (LAFC; 52/2), Tyler Adams (Leeds United/ENG; 30/1), Johnny Cardoso (Internacional/BRA; 3/0), Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo/ESP; 11/0), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 35/9), Malik Tillman (Rangers/SCO; 2/0)
FORWARDS (8): Brenden Aaronson (Leeds United/ENG; 22/6), Paul Arriola (FC Dallas; 47/10), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas; 13/7), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders; 48/11), Ricardo Pepi (Groningen/NED; 11/3), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 51/21), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 12/4), Josh Sargent (Norwich City/ENG; 19/3)
Since the initial announcement of the USMNT roster, three changes have been made. Midfielder Johnny Cardoso was added to the squad after Yunus Musah was diagnosed with a minor groin injury. Central defenders Mark McKenzie and Erik Palmer-Brown were called up after minor injuries sidelined central defenders Cameron Carter-Vickers and Chris Richards.
USA SCHEDULE - SEPTEMBER INTERNATIONAL WINDOW
ESPN2, ESPN+, UniMás, TUDN
COMPETING FOR A SPOT IN QATAR:
The USMNT returns to the World Cup on Nov. 21, 2022 and its matches against Japan and Saudi Arabia come just under two months before the USA faces Wales to kick off its campaign in Qatar. The two games will serve as the USA’s final opportunities to prepare ahead of the World Cup. Drawn alongside Wales, England and IR Iran in Group B, the USMNT will compete in the strongest overall group in Qatar, with the four nations holding an average rank of 15 according to the August 2022 FIFA World Ranking.
As the USA gets ready for Qatar, the USMNT player pool is competing for spots on the 26-player World Cup roster. The players currently in camp will try to leave their best impression with head coach Gregg Berhalter and his staff before the final World Cup squad is named on Nov. 9.
“The roster is not set. All these players are in consideration,” Berhalter said. “We’re monitoring them (the players not called into camp) and we’re evaluating this 26 in this camp. We’re having ongoing conversations with guys in the camp and not in the camp because we know that things can change really quickly.”
After qualifying for the World Cup, the USMNT launched into World Cup preparation by using its four open friendly match dates to challenge itself against fellow tournament participants, lining up opponents from three different confederations (AFC, CAF, CONMEBOL).
Including June’s 3-0 win against Morocco and scoreless draw against 13th-ranked Uruguay, the USMNT will have faced four different World Cup teams prior to traveling to Qatar in November.
Facing two teams from the Asian Football Confederation marks a new challenge for the USMNT. Twenty-one players will have the chance to make their first international appearances against an AFC nation during this window’s matches vs. Japan and Saudi Arabia. Only Kellyn Acosta, Paul Arriola, Reggie Cannon, Matt Turner and Sam Vines have represented the USA against a team from that region, coming in the 1-0 win against Qatar in the Concacaf Gold Cup semifinal on July 29, 2021.
NEW CLUB HOMES ABROAD:
Since the USMNT last gathered in June, a number of players on the roster have switched clubs and are making strides at their new homes. In England, the duo of Brenden Aaronson and Tyler Adams left the Red Bull family – from Salzburg and Leipzig, respectively – and made the jump to the English Premier League, where both have become regular starters at Leeds United. Matt Turner officially made the move to Arsenal in the Premier League after agreeing to a deal in February, while Ethan Horvath is now minding the net at Luton Town in the English League Championship following his time at Nottingham Forest.
Sergiño Dest jumped from one European powerhouse to another, leaving Barcelona for defending Serie A champion AC Milan. With his appearance in Milan’s UEFA Champions League opener, he became the first U.S. international to play for three different clubs in the competition.
Luca de la Torre jumped from Eredivisie side Heracles to Celta Vigo in Spain’s La Liga. Cameron Carter-Vickers made his loan to Scottish Premier League champion Celtic permanent, while Malik Tillman joined up with crosstown rival Rangers. Both have joined Dest in Champions League competition. Forward Ricardo Pepi has gone on loan to the high-scoring Dutch Eredivisie where he now lines up for FC Groningen and tallied his first goal last weekend.
A number of players have earned calls back to the USMNT after some time away from international duty. Forward Josh Sargent returns for the first time since the USA’s opening World Cup qualifying matches in September 2021. The 22-year-old striker has scored six goals in ten matches for Norwich City so far this season, tying him for second in the EFL Championship scoring race.
A member of the 2021 Gold Cup championship side, outside back Sam Vines receives his first call-up since last November. Vines has started all nine matches for Belgian Jupiler League leaders Royal Antwerp, registering one goal along the way to a perfect 9-0-0 start.
Ricardo Pepi and Gio Reyna are back with the team for the first time since the March qualifiers, while Sergiño Dest were last with the squad during the January/February qualifying window.
“YOUNGEST TEAM IN THE WORLD” CONTINUES TO GAIN EXPERIENCE:
The USMNT was by far the youngest team to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, garnering valuable experience going through the rigors of World Cup qualifying. Through 14 qualifiers, the USA Starting XI came in at an average of 23.82, almost two years younger than the next closest team, Ghana at 25.67. Together, the 31 teams averaged a Starting XI age of 27.5 through qualifying, nearly four full years older than head coach Gregg Berhalter’s side.
- BY THE NUMBERS: The USMNT’s 2022 World Cup Qualifying Run
From the available data for qualified teams, the USMNT played 10 of the 11 youngest lineups worldwide during the recently concluded qualifying cycle, with all 14 lineups falling in the 23 youngest Starting XIs in the world dating back to October 2020. After its successful qualifying campaign, each match is another opportunity for the young USMNT player pool to gain experience against top-flight competition.
The German Bundesliga has played an important role in the careers of several young USMNT players. Two are currently plying their trade in Deutschland: Joe Scally at Borussia Mönchengladbach and Gio Reyna at Borussia Dortmund. Five more return to Germany with the National Team after launching their careers in the Bundesliga before moving elsewhere in Europe. Weston McKennie (Schalke 04), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Josh Sargent (Weder Bremen) and Malik Tillman (Bayern Munich) all played their first professional minutes in the Bundesliga, while Tyler Adams made the jump overseas to RB Leipzig after a standout few seasons with his hometown New York Red Bulls and Ricardo Pepi was signed by Augsburg following his stellar play with FC Dallas.
LAST TIME OUT:
The USMNT kicked off its Qatar prep with four matches during the June international window: two friendlies against fellow World Cup finalists Morocco and Uruguay plus the start of its Concacaf Nations League title defense hosting Grenada and playing at El Salvador.
The USA earned its first-ever win against Morocco to kick off the slate, topping the Atlas Lions 3-0 in Cincinnati. A skillful run by Christian Pulisic set up Brenden Aaronson for the game’s opening goal, while Tim Weah doubled the lead just six minutes later. USMNT debutant Haji Wright capped the scoring by converting a second-half penalty. In Kansas City, the USA played No. 13-ranked Uruguay to a scoreless draw as goalkeeper Sean Johnson and the U.S. defense shut down La Celeste.
The U.S. kicked off its second Nations League campaign with a bang, as four goals from forward Jesús Ferreira sparked a 5-0 win against Grenada in Austin. On the road in El Salvador, the USMNT battled in driving rain to a 1-1 draw on a dramatic late equalizer from forward Jordan Morris.
USA ROSTER NOTES
- The roster features players who ply their trade in 11 different countries: USA (8), England (6), Belgium (2), Germany (2), Italy (2), Brazil (1), France (1), Netherlands (1), Portugal (1), Scotland (1) and Spain (1)
- Six players have already participated in European club competition this season. Sergiño Dest (AC Milan), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund) and Malik Tillman (Rangers) played for their clubs in the UEFA Champions League last week, while Matt Turner made his Arsenal debut in the club’s opening UEFA Europa League match.
- Nine U.S. players competed in the UCL last week, setting a record for a single matchday in the competition.
- Seven players return to the USMNT roster after not taking part in the team’s June gathering: Johnny Cardoso, Sergiño Dest, Mark McKenzie, Ricardo Pepi, Gio Reyna, Josh Sargent and Sam Vines
- The USA is 1-1-0 against Japan all-time. This is their first meeting on neutral soil, although there is a large Japanese population in and around the city of Dusseldorf.
- The nations last met on Feb. 10, 2006, in San Francisco, a 3-2 win for the USA. Forward Taylor Twellman scored one and assisted the two other goals, boosting the U.S. to a 3-0 lead before Japan pulled two back.
- Japan and the USA also played in a memorable quarterfinal match at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, an Under-23 tournament with three overage players allowed. Midfielder Peter Vagenas converted a 90th-minute penalty to equalize before the U.S. prevailed in a penalty kick shootout 5-4, sending the U-23 MYNT to the Olympic medal round for the first time ever.
- Friday’s match vs. Japan is just the USA’s second against Asian opposition since head coach Gregg Berhalter took over in January 2019. The first came against Qatar in the quarterfinals of the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup, where the U.S. topped this year’s World Cup host 1-0 on a late goal.
- The USA is 15-12-7 all-time vs. teams from the Asian Football Confederation and 8-5-4 against teams from the East Asian Football Federation. The USMNT’s last match vs. an East Asian opponent was a 2-0 win against Korea Republic on Feb. 1, 2014.
JAPAN ROSTER BY POSITION (CLUB; CAPS/GOALS)
GOALKEEPERS (4): Eiji Kawashima (Strasbourg/FRA; 95/0); Shuichi Gonda (Shimizu S-Pulse; 32/0); Daniel Schmidt (Sint-Truidense/BEL; 9/0); Kosei Tani (Shonan Bellmare; 1/0)
DEFENDERS (9): Hiroki Ito (Stuttgart/GER; 3/0); Yuto Nagatomo (FC Tokyo; 136/4); Yuta Nakayama (Huddersfield Town/ENG; 16/0); Hiroki Sakai (Urawa Red Diamonds; 70/1); Ayumu Seko (Grasshopper Club Zurich/SUI; 0/0); Shogo Taniguchi (Kawasaki Frontale; 12/0); Takehiro Tomiyasu (Arsenal/ENG; 28/1); Miki Yamane (Kawasaki Frontale; 13/2); Maya Yoshida (Schalke/GER; 119/12)
MIDFIELDERS (13): Ritsu Doan (Freiburg/GER; 26/3); Wataru Endo (Stuttgart/GER; 41/2); Genki Haraguchi (1.FC Union Berlin/GER; 73/11); Reo Hatate (Celtic/SCO; 1/0); Junya Ito (Reims/FRA; 36/9); Daichi Kamada (Eintracht Frankfurt/GER; 19/5); Takefusa Kubo (Real Sociedad/ESP; 18/1); Takumi Minamino (Monaco/MCO; 42/17); Kaoru Mitoma (Brighton & Hove Albion/ENG; 7/4); Hidemasa Morita (Sporting CP/POR; 16/2); Gaku Shibasaki (Leganes/ESP; 58/3); Yuki Soma (Nagoya Grampus; 6/3); Ao Tanaka (Fortuna Düsseldorf/GER; 13/2)
FORWARDS (4): Kyogo Furuhashi (Celtic/SCO; 15/3); Shuto Machino (Shonan Bellmare; 3/3); Daizen Maeda (Celtic/SCO; 7/1); Ayase Ueda (Cercle Brugge/BEL; 9/0)
IN FOCUS: JAPAN
- Qatar 2022 will mark Japan’s seventh FIFA World Cup appearance. Since their first qualification in 1998, the Samurai Blue have gone to seven straight World Cups and reached the Round of 16 three times: 2018, 2006 and 2002 as co-host with Korea Republic.
- At Russia 2018, Japan finished second in Group H before falling to Belgium in the Round of 16, despite taking a 2-0 lead shortly after halftime.
- Currently ranked No. 24 in the world, Japan was drawn into Group E for Qatar alongside Spain, Costa Rica and Germany.
- Japan qualified for the World Cup as one of six representatives from Asia. After a bye for the first of three AFC qualifying rounds, the Samurai Blue dominated Group F in the second round, going 8-0-0 with a plus-44 goal differential against Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and Myanmar.
- Japan clinched one of four automatic berths to Qatar by finishing second in Group B behind Saudi Arabia during the third qualifying round. The East Asian power finished 7-2-1 against Saudi Arabia, Australia, Oman, China and Vietnam, securing its World Cup spot on the penultimate matchday of AFC qualifying with a 2-0 win against Australia.
- Twenty-two of Japan’s players are based in Europe and eight ply their trade domestically in the J-League.
- Defender Takehiro Tomiyasu is a teammate of USMNT goalkeeper Matt Turner at Arsenal.
- Midfielder Reo Hatate as well as forwards Kyogo Furuhashi and Daizen Maeda are teammates of U.S. defender Cameron Carter-Vickers, who was initially called to camp but forced to withdraw due to a minor injury.
- Defender Yuto Nagamoto is the roster’s most experienced player with 136 caps, while Monaco midfielder Takumi Minamino is the squad’s leading scorer with 17 goals in 42 appearances.
- Head coach Hajime Moriyasu has led the Samurai Blue since July 2018, guiding Japan to a 38-10-7 overall record and a runner-up finish at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. A former Japanese international, the midfielder enjoyed a 17-year playing career in his home country.