The USMNT friendly loss to Japan is a wake-up call for the World Cup

A Friday friendly that started unusually early in the US proved a sobering and perhaps useful wake-up call for the American men.

Gregg Berhalter wants his young side to play aggressively and directly, making mistakes and then capitalizing on quick runs and passes behind defense. He wants the field to be tipped and to that end he has repeatedly said he plans to deploy a high back in Qatar. He expects to be up front.

Sometimes the opponent has other plans. Faced with a smart, energetic Japanese side that refused to give the US a foothold or play to their strengths, the Americans collapsed and were easily beaten 2-0 at the Merkur Spiel-Arena in Dusseldorf, Germany. The Americans literally lost possession and didn’t score a single shot on goal. That was Berhalter’s worst performance since the World Cup qualifying defeat in Panama last October. In this game, a heavily rotated squad played in oppressive humidity. On Friday in Germany, Americans were simply poor.

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