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Japan and the USMNT face off in a key friendly match in Dusseldorf, Germany on Friday (kick-off 8:25 a.m. ET) as the two teams focus on their final preparations for the World Cup 2022.


Just two months away from the tournament in Qatar, the USMNT have two last friendlies (this game against Japan and then Saudi Arabia next Tuesday) to get in shape and that’s it for Gregg Berhalter’s team.

The USMNT will be keen to drop out of their World Cup group as they have England, Wales and Iran to fend for themselves in Group B, while Japan have been drawn in Group E with Spain, Germany and Costa Rica in what really looks like a tough group.

Below is everything you need to know when the Samurai Blue and the Stars and Stripes collide.

How to watch Japan vs. USMNT live, updates and start time

When: Friday, September 23
Kick-off time: 8:25 a.m. ET
Where: Düsseldorf Arena, Germany
How to watch: ESPN 2, Unimas, TUDN

Key scenarios

The big storylines swirling around the USMNT ahead of these friendlies seem to have swirled around this young team for much of the past two years: who will play up front and who will be the second center back?

With hot Jordan Pefok surprisingly absent from this list despite his incredible start to the season for Bundesliga leaders Union Berlin, the duo of Ricardo Pepi and Josh Sargent were given one last chance to prove themselves against Berhalter. Gio Reyna is back in the squad which is a huge boost, and it gives Berhalter so many options in the attacking areas of midfield. How will he fit Brenden Aaronson, Christian Pulisic and Reyna into the same starting lineup? Can he?

In central defense, things were complicated by injuries to Cameron Carter-Vickers and Chris Richards, who had to fight to see who would start alongside Walker Zimmerman at the World Cup. The likes of Aaron Long, Mark McKenzie and Erik Palmer-Brown will see this as a huge opportunity to make the roster as it seems unlikely that Miles Robinson will make the squad following his Achilles injury. Yunus Musah being injured is a blow as he was certain to start alongside Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie in midfield. In goal, Zack Steffen is out after being injured and has only just returned, so Ethan Horvath and Sean Johnson will battle it out for that third and final goalkeeping spot with Matt Turner now looking like the starter.

Brenden Aaronson explains USMNT enthusiasm

Leeds United playmaker Brenden Aaronson has enjoyed a strong start to his Premier League career in recent months and the 21-year-old is excited with the World Cup just two months away.

“It’s crazy to think how close the World Cup is, it’s in the back of your head,” Aaronson told reporters. “With Leeds at the moment I really haven’t had a chance to think about it, but it’s really growing. Seeing the guys again and thinking ‘wow, those are the last two games before the World Cup’. It’s coming as you fast I think the preparation and what we’ve done over the last few years, we’re all ready to go and we’re all looking forward to it.

Japan vs. USMNT Head-to-Head Record

This will be just the third meeting ever between Japan and the USMNT, as the first encounter in 1993 in Tokyo saw the hosts go down 3-1 with Hugo Perez scoring the only goal for the United States. The last time these teams met was in 2006 when the USMNT won 3-2 in San Francisco as goals from Eddie Pope, Clint Dempsey and Taylor Twellman put them 3-0 up and the States United held on for victory.

The truth about Japan

It’s a very experienced team with captain Maya Yoshida (114 caps) leading the back line, as well as full-back Yuto Nagatoma (136 caps) and goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima (95 caps) who are also the mainstays of this team. for at least a decade, plus Arsenal’s Takehiro. Tomiyasu a key part of their defense. Daichi Kamada (Frankfurt), Ritsu Doan (Freiburg), Kyogo Furuhashi (Celtic) and Takumi Minamino (Monaco) are attacking talents to watch. Japan and their boss Hajime Moriyasu know they were assessed harshly at the World Cup, but they are usually very good at exceeding expectations and they passed the Asian Football Confederation qualifier to reach their seventh World Cup. consecutive world.

USMNT team news, injuries, roster options

With injuries in defense and midfield, opportunities arose everywhere for the USMNT players to make one final statement before the World Cup roster was announced. Expect Erik Palmer-Brown and Mark McKenzie to get plenty of minutes at centre-back, while there is a bit of a battle at left-back with Antonee Robinson missing this team with injury. Can Joe Scally and Sam Vines give Berhalter even more headaches in the back area?

Luca de la Torre and Malik Tillman will be scrutinized extensively in midfield, while up there it will get truly intriguing. Berhalter will try to balance his team but also get all his best attacking skills in the game at the same time. Does this mean there will be a false nine? Or will one of in-form duo Josh Sargent and Ricardo Pepi step in and grab the No.9 shirt as they battle Jesus Ferreira?


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