Paul Arriola USMNT

Amid a firestorm of negativity following a pair of disappointing results in their final tune-up friendlies ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, US men’s national team players broke September camp positive of better performances in Qatar come November.

The USMNT suffered a 2-0 defeat to Japan followed by a 0-0 draw against Saudi Arabia, subpar performances that set off alarm bells around the program.

But inside that bubble, there’s an admission of disappointment coupled with excitement for what’s to come when the USMNT open Group B play against Wales on Nov. 21.

“No, not worried at all. I know these guys, I know our talent. I know how connected we are,” FC Dallas winger Paul Arriola said. “It’s just a matter of putting it all together. There's no better time than coming up.”

During their Europe-based friendlies, the swagger shown during World Cup qualifying and victorious Nations League and Gold Cup runs gave way to nerves for the youngest team that will compete at the World Cup in November.

"It's better to have these types of performances right now than to have it in the World Cup," said midfielder Weston McKennie. "Obviously we know that we can do better and we know that we're going to have to do better if we want to succeed in the World Cup.

"I think this window as a whole is a big learning lesson in [getting] the last little jitters out. Hopefully whenever we get to the World Cup it will be like how it used to be."

The players will now return to their club teams, where the onus is on them to be their best come November.

"The message that we have to send [is] do everything you can, prepare your body, physically, mentally, as best as you can to be prepared once that time comes," said Chelsea FC forward Christian Pulisic. "If everyone does that, I think we're going to be in good shape for the World Cup."

Added McKennie, a Juventus standout: "The mood of the guys, obviously we're a little disappointed. But at the same time, we can't dwell in the past because we have to go back to our club teams and we have to perform. We know that coming back in, next time we're going to be in with the national team is to play on the big stage."