U.S. Men’s National Team And Saudi Arabia Duel To Scoreless Draw In Final World Cup Preparation Match
USMNT Will Next Gather in November Ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar
MURCIA, Spain (Sept. 27, 2022) – The U.S. Men’s National Team and fellow World Cup finalist Saudi Arabia played to a scoreless draw Tuesday evening in the team’s last preparation match ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Played in a neutral setting at Estadio Nueva Condomina in southeastern Spain, USMNT goalkeeper Matt Turner earned his 14th career clean sheet in his 20th international cap.
USA head coach Gregg Berhalter made four changes from the starting group that fell to Japan last week in Germany, inserting DeAndre Yedlin in the back line, Kellyn Acosta in midfield, and Ricardo Pepi and Christian Pulisic in the attack.
The match was fast paced from the start as Saudi Arabia tested Turner just seconds into the match on a shot from defender Sultan Al-Ghannam. The U.S. held possession for most of the first half, stringing together promising buildup plays despite being unable to find the back of the net.
Midfielder Weston McKennie had the first USA chance nine minutes in when he brought down a long pass from defender Walker Zimmerman, cut to his right and shot from the top of the box. His strike was on target but goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Yami was in position to make the save.
Pulisic also had a few threatening moments while attacking down the left side, one of which he saw a first-time header off a free kick sail wide. Midfielder Tyler Adams also came close to opening the scoring when he pounced on a second ball and hit a low, driven shot from 28 yards out that went just wide to the left.
Saudi Arabia had perhaps the best chance of the half just past the half hour mark. Haitham Mohammed Asiri took a short pass into the box before he crossed from the endline to find Hatan Sultan Bahbri in the heart of the box, but his shot from close range was blocked by Yedlin and Zimmerman. The rebound fell to Nasser Essa Al-Dawsari, who mishit a shot as Turner was recovering which allowed midfielder Paul Arriola to clear the threat a few feet from the goal line. Arriola had entered minutes earlier for Gio Reyna, who came off in the 30th minute after experiencing muscle tightness.
The teams traded chances in the second half. In the 60th, Arriola fed second-half substitute Jesus Ferreira outside the penalty box. Ferreira flicked the ball up and hit a solid volley through two defenders, but Alyami reacted to his left to keep the game scoreless. Turner then made a big stop ten minutes later, denying Asiri’s powerful shot from 18 yards out.
GOAL SCORING RUNDOWN
Today’s Starting XI had an average age of 25 years, 73 days. The lineup also averaged 33 caps – the highest average cap number for a USMNT Starting XI since October 15, 2019 at Canada (36 caps).
Gregg Berhalter made four changes to the lineup from Friday’s match against Japan, inserting DeAndre Yedlin on the back line, Kellyn Acosta in midfield and Ricardo Pepi and Christian Pulisic up top.
Matt Turner made two saves to keep his 14th career clean sheet. The 28-year-old also became the ninth goalkeeper to earn 20 USMNT appearances, going 14-3-3 as a U.S. international thus far.
Christian Pulisic captained the side for the 11th time tonight. The USMNT is 7-1-3 when Pulisic wears the armband.
DeAndre Yedlin earned his 75th cap for the USMNT, moving into a tie with Mike Burns for 31st on the team’s all-time appearances list. This is Yedlin’s second appearance against Asian opposition, with his first coming in his USA debut on Feb. 1, 2014 against Korea Republic.
Ricardo Pepi earned his first appearance since starting the final World Cup qualifier on March 30 at Costa Rica.
Gio Reyna experienced muscle tightness during the first half and came off in the 30th minute as a precaution.
Tyler Adams, Christian Pulisic, Walker Zimmerman and substitute Jesús Ferreira all made their 10th appearances of 2022, moving into a tie with Antonee Robinson for the team lead. Adams and Zimmerman also tied their career high appearance total in a calendar year. Both players also made 10 appearances in 2021.
Defender Reggie Cannon was diagnosed with a left groin strain following Friday’s match and was unavailable for selection today.
The USMNT moves to 3-2-2 all-time against Saudi Arabia. This is the first meeting between the two nations since the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup Third-Place Match, which the USMNT won 2-0 behind goals from Paul Bravo and Brian McBride.
The USMNT is 36-10-10 in 56 matches under Gregg Berhalter.
-U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report-
Match: United States Men’s National Team vs. Saudi Arabia
Date: September 27, 2022 Competition: International Friendly