The second era of the United States Men’s National Team under Gregg Berhalter begins on Saturday when they host Uzbekistan in a friendly in Kansas City.
After a spell with an interim manager, the USMNT is back under Berhalter’s command. While there are still unanswered questions surrounding how he will handle the Gio Reyna situation, those will not be answered this weekend. However, we should see Folarin Balogun make his first appearance under the manager, alongside stars like Christian Pulisic and Timothy Weah.
For Uzbekistan, the match presents another warm-up opportunity ahead of their start to World Cup qualifying later this year. They’ve lost just once in their last seven matches, although their last match against a CONCACAF side was nearly a year ago in a 2-1 defeat to Costa Rica.
Will the USMNT run rampant against their opponents, or will fans come out frustrated once again following a Berhalter performance? We discuss that and more in our United States vs. Uzbekistan picks and predictions for September 9.
USA vs Uzbekistan best odds
|Over 2.5 (-140)||Total||Under 2.5 (-102)|
Odds courtesy of TonyBet on September 8, 2023.
USA vs Uzbekistan picks and predictions
Fans have had issues with Berhalter’s team setups in the past. Whether it was the formation, the combination of players in the midfield, or his penchant for rotating the squad, there are any number of reasons for fans to have a bit of apprehension ahead of Saturday’s friendly.
But one thing that’s never in question is the status of Christian Pulisic. He’s been a mainstay in Berhalter’s teams, and the focal point of many attacks. And right now, that’s a good thing to have.
Pulisic has grasped his new opportunity with AC Milan with both hands. Following his frustrating stay with Chelsea, he’s been on fire with his new club and was recently named the player of the month of August for the Italian club.
The left winger found the back of the net in his first two matches for Milan and looked dangerous at times in the third against Roma. He’s now scored a goal in three of his last five matches for club and country, going back to the World Cup when he netted the winner against Iran.
Pulisic assisted the US's only goal in the World Cup knockout match against the Netherlands, and much of the attack will flow through him. With a true focal point at the top in Balogun, it’s opened up his ability to play short balls near the box or cut inside on his preferred right foot.
Uzbekistan isn’t a bad team. They’re ranked 74th in the world, just ahead of El Salvador. If the matches against that nation are any indication, this could be a low-scoring affair. The last four meetings between the USA and El Salvador have ended 1-0, 1-1, 1-0, and 0-0.
That’s similar to what we’ve seen with Uzbekistan. Their most recent matches outside of the AFC have been against Venezuela — a 1-1 draw — and against Bolivia (won 1-0). They play sound defensively and like to limit chances.
And that’s where Pulisic comes into play. If this match only sees a couple of goals, it may take a moment of brilliance to change things. Of all the players on the pitch, Pulisic is in the best form and is the most likely to provide that moment.
Throw in the fact that he’d take any possible penalties handed out, and you’ve got your best shot at a goalscorer in this match.
My best bet: Christian Pulisic anytime goalscorer (+170 at TonyBet)
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USA vs Uzbekistan same-game parlay
Our SGP is a three-leg compilation, as we pair the Pulisic goal with an American win and three or fewer goals.
As we will discuss in a minute, I see this match coming down in the 2-0 range, but we’re going to give ourselves a bit of wiggle room by taking the Under 4 goals total.
In addition, I don’t see the Americans failing to get a victory in this one. They’re coming off a disappointing performance in the Gold Cup this summer, and Berhalter’s going to want a victory in his return. Kansas City has often been a place that Americans can count on for results, and that shouldn't change here.
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USA vs Uzbekistan side and Over/Under analysis
The three-way line has the United States heavily favored, priced anywhere between -350 and -480 to win. Uzbekistan is getting between +800 and +1200 to win as decided underdogs, with the draw paying handsomely at +430.
As for the total, the Over 2.5 is slightly favored but you can still get it at -125 at FanDuel. The public is expecting a 2-1 or 3-0 win based on wagering patterns I’ve seen, but there could be some value in the Under at plus-money.
It would be easy for the casual observer to think this should be a romp by the United States, but Uzbekistan’s only defeat in their last seven matches came against Iran this summer. That match saw Iran start a good number of the players who featured for them in the World Cup, including in their narrow 1-0 defeat to the United States.
For that reason, I view this as being more of a 1-0 or 2-0 match than a high-scoring affair. Uzbekistan is going to use this as an opportunity to see how well they can manage a match against a better side, and going all-out to get a win isn’t the way to do that.
As for the Americans, they’ll be without most of their top MLS players (due to either injury or not being called up), which means Berhalter will be using some players off the bench who haven’t been regular starters this season. He’s also likely to get Balogun off somewhat early to sub for Ricardo Pepi, which would change the dynamic.
I see the Americans winning this match, but I’d lean towards the Under if playing a side on the O/U. Personally, I’ll be staying away from both markets outside of our SGP.
USA vs Uzbekistan game info
|Location:||CITYPARK, St. Louis, MO|
|Date:||Saturday, September 9, 2023|
|Time:||5:30 p.m. ET|
USA vs Uzbekistan key injuries
USA: Tyler Adams M (Out), Walker Zimmerman D (Out), Tyler Neal D (Out).
Uzbekistan: No key injuries to report.
USA vs Uzbekistan weather
It's expected to be mostly sunny in St. Louis on Saturday, with temperatures over 80 degrees.