The United States Men's National Team did not look like a team ready to contend for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Friday's 2-0 loss to Japan in an international friendly match in Germany, and manager Gregg Berhalter realizes there is work to be done.
"We've got work to do. We clearly need to improve, but overall really good experience for this team," Berhalter said following the loss, per ESPN's Jeff Carlisle.
"Give Japan a lot of credit. I think they played a good game and they gave us a hard time. I think at times we were well in the match and performing well, but overall, over 90 minutes, we could have been better. [It] wasn't good enough."
The USMNT were outplayed from start to finish on Friday as they had no answer for the pressure brought on by Japan.
The Samurai Blues took a 1-0 lead in the 24th minute on a goal by Daichi Kamada following a turnover by the Weston McKennie. Hidemasa Morita found a wide-open Kamada inside the 18 for the go-ahead goal.
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Japan scores the goal that had been coming, with VAR review confirming Daichi Kamada’s go-ahead strike. 1-0! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USMNT?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USMNT</a> <br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/TUDNUSA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TUDNUSA</a>) <a href="https://t.co/uFaHCi6T9Z">pic.twitter.com/uFaHCi6T9Z</a>
Japan extended their lead in the 88th minute on a goal by Kaoru Mitoma, who cut through the inside of the U.S. defense before curling a shot into the bottom corner past Matt Turner's outstretched arms.
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Japan finishes off the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USMNT?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USMNT</a>, as Kaoru Mitoma cuts inside and delivers the dagger. 2-0! <br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/TUDNUSA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TUDNUSA</a>) <a href="https://t.co/8C2rAHTuVB">pic.twitter.com/8C2rAHTuVB</a>
While the Americans led in possession, Japan led the U.S. 16-4 in shots and 8-0 in shots on target.
The U.S. is ranked 14th in the world by FIFA, while Japan is ranked 24th. If they can't defeat a team that is below them in the rankings, how can they be expected to compete at the World Cup?
Berhalter admitted last week that he knows his squad won't be the most talented going into Qatar, but he stressed the importance of the group playing as one unit:
“I know we're not going to be the most talented team at the World Cup, and we're going to have to compensate for that by being a cohesive unit, by working for each other, fighting for each other and having a great team spirit. We're going to have to do that if we want to be successful at the World Cup.”
The USMNT will look to get back on track against Saudi Arabia on Sept. 27. They open play in the World Cup on Nov. 21 against Wales.