Gregg Berhalter’s side faces Japan on Friday in one of the USMNT’s final two friendlies before the 2022 World Cup commences on November 20.
Drawn in a World Cup group that includes Wales, England, and Iran, Berhalter will take the opportunity against Japan, and on Tuesday versus Saudi Arabia, to solidify his team’s first-choice 11.
The UNSMT are ranked No. 14 in the world, while the Blue Samurai hold the world No. 24 ranking. Japan face a foreboding prospect at World Cup 2022, as they’re ensnared in a group with Spain, Germany, and Costa Rica.
Ahead of this friendly in Germany, check out my USA vs. Japan picks and predictions.
Japan vs USA odds
|Over 2.5 (+115)||Total||Under 2.5 (-150)|
Odds courtesy of bet365 on September 20, 2022.
Japan vs USA picks and predictions
Berhalter has several challenging personnel decisions before they play their opening World Cup match against Wales. Six regulars are unavailable for the upcoming friendlies due to injury, including Zack Steffen, Antonee Robinson, Tim Weah, Yunus Musah, Chris Richards, and Cameron Carter-Vickers.
The last two names are particularly concerning, as both Richards and Carter-Vickers add assuredness and stability to Berhalter’s rearguard.
Gio Reyna is back, providing a massive lift for the side. The USMNT has an embarrassment of riches in midfield, with Reyna, Brenden Aaronson, Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams, and Weston McKennie available.
By solving his most pressing personnel conundrums, like who to start in defense and upfront, Berhalter will earn every penny of his salary.
Josh Sargent, Ricardo Pepi, and Jesus Ferreira are preferred to Union Berlin’s Jordan Pefok, who was left out of the 26-man roster. The three aforementioned forwards will do their utmost to make a final impression before Qatar 2022.
With Carter-Vickers and Richards unavailable, a glimmering opportunity is available for Aaron Long, Erik Palmer-Brown, and Mark McKenzie, who will try to convince Berhalter they not only belong on the World Cup squad but should start beside shoo-in Walker Zimmerman.
Finally, Sam Vines and Joe Scally have one last shot to complicate the gaffer’s decision-making process regarding the side’s fullbacks. As with all friendlies, expect Berhalter to find the right balance for the showcase event in Qatar by experimenting and tinkering.
The USMNT have lost just one of their last eight matches, a 2-1 defeat at Costa Rica in World Cup qualifying. However, three of those eight games ended in a deadlock, with the USMNT having to settle for a disappointing 1-1 draw against El Salvador in their last match.
The other two stalemates came against Uruguay in a friendly and Mexico in a World Cup qualifier, which won’t cause Berhalter any lost sleep. The USMNT haven’t played a match in Europe since May 30, 2021, when they lost 2-1 to the Swiss in Switzerland.
Friday’s match, however, is on neutral ground in Dusseldorf, so Berhalter’s side won’t face the prospect of an overwhelmingly partisan crowd.
My best bet: Draw (+280 at FanDuel)
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Japan vs USA betting preview
Dating back to 1998, Japan have advanced to seven straight World Cups. They qualified after finishing second, a point behind Saudi Arabia, in the Asian Football Confederation. Japan finished the final qualification group taking 22 from a possible 30 points.
They lost 1-0 in Saudi Arabia and, in a game Hajime Moriyasu would like to forget, were upended 1-0 at home against relative minnows Oman. Otherwise, the Samurai Blue have lost just two of their previous 14, a run that includes a recent 3-0 home victory over South Korea.
Japan are chockfull of elite talent who ply their trade at top European clubs. Former Liverpool attacker Takumi Minamino now plays for Monaco, stalwart captain Maya Yoshida plays for Schalke, Kyogo Furuhashi is at Celtic, while Takehiro Tomiyasu, a key part of Japan’s backline, is at Arsenal.
Most of the backline is seasoned and well-versed in international ongoings, with Yoshida and full-back Yuto Nagatomo capped over 100 times for their country.
With the prospect of such a daunting World Cup group, Japan will want to acquit themselves well against USMNT.
It will provide an excellent litmus test for Moriyasu, whose side has endured mixed results recently against strong sides, including a recent 3-0 defeat to Tunisia.
Four of Japan’s five recent matches resulted in the Over, including a comprehensive 4-1 win over Ghana on home turf. However, seven of their previous eight resulted in the Under.
Aside from a throwaway 6-0 win over minnows Hong Kong, Japan was shut out in two of their previous three matches. The exclusion saw Japan score three goals in a resounding 3-0 win over rivals South Korea.
Japan have been all over the map regarding the Over/Under market, and the USMNT is no different, with four of their recent eight matches resulting in the Over.
Akin to Japan, Berhalter’s side has been shut out twice recently, failing to score against Uruguay and Costa Rica.
Both teams will want to make a good account of themselves, particularly the players on the bubble looking to crack the final World Cup rosters. So, expect a hotly contested, well-drilled match that should result in the Under.
Japan vs USA game info
• Location: MERKUR SPIEL-ARENA, Dusseldorf, Germany
• Date: Friday, September 23, 2022
• Time: 8:25 a.m. ET
• TV: ESPN2
Japan vs USA key injuries
Japan: Kyogo Furuhashi M (Out), Daizen Maeda M (Out).
USA: Zack Steffen GK (Out), Antonee Robinson D (Out), Tim Weah M (Out), Yunus Musah M (Out), Chris Richards D (Out), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Out).
Japan vs USA weather
The temperature will be a cool 64 degrees Fahrenheit for the afternoon kickoff. Winds will be light at about 6 mph, and humidity is expected to be 47%. There is currently no chance of precipitation.