World Cup concern: USMNT overcome by Japan in friendly


The US men’s national team suffered a 2-0 defeat to Japan at the Merkur Spiel-Arena in Düsseldorf, Germany on Friday, a match that was the first of two Europe-based friendlies for Gregg Berhalter’s squad before the Qatar 2022 World Cup in November.

The Yanks' final tune-up comes Tuesday against Saudi Arabia (2 pm ET | FS1, UniMás, TUDN) in Murcia, Spain.

The USMNT were punished for a sloppy first half in which they lost possession 54 times in their defensive half, by conceding in the 24th minute when Daichi Kamada tucked a shot inside the far post, giving the Samurai Blue a 1-0 lead. The Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder’s goal was awarded following Video Review after initially being waved off because the offside flag was raised.

Kamada nearly had a decisive second goal in the 65th minute, but Matt Turner dived to his left to get a hand on the attempt, which came after another USMNT turnover. The Arsenal goalkeeper also lunged up to get a touch on Ritsu Doan’s blast from atop the 18-yard box in the 75th minute.

Turner, though, could do nothing to stop Kaoru Mitoma, who split defenders before putting his precise strike inside the far post two minutes from full time.


  • 24’ — JPN — Daichi Kamada | WATCH
  • 88’ — JPN — Kaoru Mitoma | WATCH

Three Things

  • THE BIG PICTURE: While it’s not time to panic, it’s understandable to be concerned after a poor showing in the penultimate tune-up before the USMNT head to Qatar. Japan were organized, disciplined and pressed – and the Yanks struggled for a response, even after second-half tactical adjustments. If the aim of this friendly was for the squad to feel uncomfortable, it’s mission accomplished.
  • MOMENT OF THE MATCH: If not for Turner, the score could have been more lopsided. He was put under pressure throughout and this was perhaps the best of his six saves.
  • MAN OF THE MATCH: One of the big questions ahead of Qatar is the starting goalkeeping spot and Turner acquitted himself well as the lone bright spot against Japan. The former New England Revolution goalkeeper kept the USMNT in the match with important saves, including a sensational denial of Daichi Kamada in the 65th minute that surely would have sealed the match for the Samurai Blue.

Next Up

  • USA: Tuesday, September 27 vs. Saudi Arabia | 2 pm ET (FS1, UniMás, TUDN) | International friendly
  • JPN: Tuesday, September 27 vs. Ecuador | 7:55 am ET | International friendly