The United States Men’s National Team head to Germany on Friday for a friendly clash with Japan.
Gregg Berhalter’s side have just two more matches remaining in preparation for their return to the World Cup in November, with this Dusseldorf clash followed by a match-up against Saudi Arabia in Spain on Tuesday.
Though only a friendly, many American players will be using this match as a chance to work their way into Berhalter’s starting XI, while others will be making a late bid to get on the plane to Qatar.
Here’s what you need to know before Friday’s game.
Chris Richards and Cameron Carter-Vickers have been forced to withdraw through injury, with Mark McKenzie and Erik Palmer-Brown replacing them on the roster.
The likes of Sam Vines and Joe Scally have a big chance to prove themselves with left-back Antonee Robinson unable to make this camp.
The biggest story for the USMNT is Jordan Pefok’s omission, despite a strong start to life in the Bundesliga with Union Berlin. Josh Sargent, Jesus Ferreira, and Ricardo Pepi are among those looking to take the No.9 spot.
Celtic trio Daizen Maeda, Kyogo Furuhashi, and Reo Hatate are all familiar faces on the Japanese roster.
Arsenal right-back Takehiro Tomiyasu’s only start this season has come in the Europa League, so he’ll be looking to use this match to build fitness and re-integrate into the national team set-up.
Like all international friendlies, this match will likely be a slow affair with both head coaches making plenty of changes and experimenting with different players.
That said, the United States are bringing a considerable force to Dusseldorf, with the likes of Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Brenden Aaronson capable of deciding any match.
It’ll be close, but the USMNT should shade this one.
Prediction: USMNT 2-1 Japan
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