That’s all for today. Thanks for following along with us and be sure to check out the match report here.
Berhalter: ‘In general, it’s nervy times’
“I still think we’re not as confident as I’d like,” Berhalter says. “We’re playing tentative and you see the connections are just, they’re not there like we’d want. The effort was great today. The intensity was great, especially at the end of the game. We kept pushing, kept trying to score. I can’t fault the effort, but we need to keep improving.”
He adds: “I think in general, it’s nervy times. People are worried about being on the roster or not, and it’s a difficult moment. But having said that, we just need to go out and play together. Still the confidence isn’t there yet, but we’ll get there.”
Asked whether tonight answered any of his questions about the No 9 position, Berhalter says: “It was tough. Jesus [Ferreira] came on and got a couple chances. It was tough for Ricardo [Pepi]. He didn’t get much service. He didn’t get many chances. So it’s really hard to evaluate players when they’re not getting opportunities.”
What is his message to the guys in the locker room after their final tune-up before Qatar?
“This camp is done and when we get to Qatar, you know, be at ease,” he says. “This is the team. The team’s not changing after that. We need to play our game. Play with confidence.”
Full-time: Saudi Arabia 0-0 USA
Well, yikes seems appropriate. The United States have drawn Saudi Arabia in their final match before the Qatar World Cup. This one will do nothing to quiet the swirling concerns around Berhalter’s side with the kickoff of their opening match against Wales all of 54 days and 22 hours from now.
90 min+1: Adams fouls Alabid from behind and is shown yellow. Free kick forthcoming for Saudi Arabia ... and it’s headed away by Zimmerman. The US try to counter but they’re dispossessed and Almuwallad fires another shot from distance in the general vicinity of the American goal that sails over the crossbar.
90 min: The fourth official signals for three added minutes.
88 min: Arriola hacks down Kanno but Saudi Arabia can’t create anything out of the ensuing free kick in their attacking half.
86 min: Arriola’s left-footed shot from the right side of the box misses the target.
82 min: Alabid tries a through ball to Asiri, but the flag goes up for offside.
81 min: Two more subs for Saudi Arabia: Altambakti in for Bahbir and Bamasaud in for Alghanam.
80 min: Saudi Arabia win their third corner. It’s played short before an entry pass bounces out off Aaronson for a fourth. This time it’s played into the six-yard box on a dangerous tack but Alamri can’t convert it.
77 min: Almuwallad wins a free kick on a Zimmerman foul but nothing comes of it. Moments later, the US win a corner conceded by Alghanam. It’s knocked down by the near post and Saudi Arabia break out into a counter.
75 min: Tillman and Aaronson enter the game for McKennie and Pulisic. Tillman is playing out on the left side and Aaronson is playing closer toward the middle.
73 min: Alabid’s left-footed shot from just outside the box misses the target. Brenden Aaronson and Malik Tillman appear to be coming on for the United States shortly.
70 min: A poor giveaway by McKenzie leads to a golden chance for Saudi Arabia. Asiri’s well-struck attempt from outside the area is parried away by Turner, however. Yikes. A trio of subs for Saudi Arabia: Almuwallad, Kanoo and Alabid are on for Aldawsari, Alhassan and Alburaikan.
65 min: The US win a corner and it’s played deep to the far post. Zimmerman rises up but can’t get a head on it and McKennie fails to keep it in, leading it a Saudi Arabia goal kick.
61 min: Ferreira fires a shot off the setup by Arriola but it’s sent directly at Alyami, who makes the elementary save.
60 min: Pulisic takes the free kick off the Yedlin foul and it’s cleared harmlessly from danger.
59 min: On comes Joe Scally, the 19-year-old from Long Island, in place of Yedlin. It’s his third international appearance. Two more substitutions for Berhalter: McKenzie on for Long and Ferreira on for Pepi (who finished with a scant 13 touches).
57 min: Yedlin makes a cross into the middle but he’s brought down by Abdulhamid in a heap. A very late tackle above the ankle. Abdulhamid is shown yellow for his efforts.
56 min: Saudi Arabia are dispossessed by Arriola in a dangerous area, but his immediate cross into the box is intercepted and Saudi Arabia are on the attack again.
51 min: Saudi Arabia win a free kick near the halfway line. Moments later Aldawsari crosses into the box, but Turner is there to punch it away. A toothless start for the United States to start this second half.
48 min: The corner is cleared from the box past the touchline for a Saudi Arabia throw-in. Nothing comes of it and the US take over possession.
47 min: Saudi Arabia win their first corner of a match. VAR is briefly consulted to determine if Yedlin touched the ball with his hand, but the appeals for a free kick are denied.
“It is obviously not the greatest playing surface,” says former USMNT defender turned pundit Alexi Lalas over on Fox. Other than that, Mrs Lincoln, how was the play?
The players are back on the pitch for the second half. No substitutions for the United States or Saudi Arabia. Additionally, Berhalter has confirmed that Reyna’s exit was precautionary and for no reason in particular.
Half-time: Saudi Arabia 0-0 USA
It’s better than Friday’s showing against Japan, just. But the US will need to show a lot more than they have so far today to quell the mounting concerns around this side with their World Cup opener against Wales only 54 days away.
45 min: The fourth official signals for one minute of stoppage time.
42 min: The US win another corner but nothing comes from it. As the first half winds down, the Americans’ offensive strategy has essentially boiled down to: play offside balls over the top.
40 min: Pulisic appeared to be fouled by Abdulhamid just inside the area near the goal line but nothing from the referee.
37 min: Pulisic takes a hard foul off the ball, shortly after a late tackle on McKennie. The referee doesn’t issue a yellow for either. It’s also being reported that Gio Reyna’s substitution at the half-hour mark was not planned. Not great.
34 min: The Yedlin-Acosta-Arriola side of the field won’t have Saudi Arabia shaking in their boots. Woof.
30 min: A pair of substitutions at the half-hour mark. For the United States, Reyna is coming off for Paul Arriola. For Saudi Arabia, Alnajei exits in place of Asiri. Remember: Six substitutions are allowed in three different moments under today’s rules (half-time does not count as a substitution moment).
28 min: Babhir’s free kick sails harmlessly over the crossbar and the Americans are on the attack again.
27 min: The US win a free kick and Reyna’s effort sails right over his target amid complaints from the Americsans of a foul. Saudi Arabia are quick on the counter-attack and a foul by Acosta gives the Green Falcons a free kick of their own from a dangerous area about 25 yards from the goal.
24 min: Poor clearance by Saudi Arabia after a failed US attack and the ball pops out to Tyler Adams, whose shot from about 20 yards skids just wide left of the post.
19 min: A nifty give-and-go from Pulisic to McKennie and back up the left flank. Pulisic then tries to pick out Pepi in the center, but the entry pass is blocked backwards and he dummies it out for a corner. Nothing comes of it, but Saudi Arabia can’t maintain possession and the US will try to build again from the middle third.
16 min: Yedlin picks out a wide-open Pulisic with a long ball to the top of the area, but he’s quickly swarmed by a gaggle of Saudi Arabia defenders and dispossessed. The United States are still trying to crack this high press, but generally look sharper and more organized than the Japan match.
13 min: A very poor giveaway by Adams in the back gives Saudi Arabia a clear opportunity on the goal, but the shot is fired wide left of the target.
9 min: Alyami makes his first save of the night, easily corralling a right-footed shot by McKennie from the top of the area. That’s the third time the Juventus man has made a deep run into the final third.
6 min: Some nice combination passing up the left flank involving Pulisic and Pepi creates another chance for the United States, but McKennie is just a whisker offside. Saudi Arabia are playing an extremely high line, which should offer opportunity for the American front line.
4 min: The US have been doing a lot of defending in the opening minutes. Then suddenly Saudi Arabia are dispossessed and Reyna sends a long ball to Pepi, who is alone on goal. But he’s just a step offside.
1 min: And we’re off! Saudi Arabia kick off and attack from left to right wearing their all-white kicks, the United States from right to left in their all-white strips. And it takes only 25 seconds for US goalkeeper Matt Turner to be tested. Alghanam fires a shot through traffic on goal but the Arsenal backup parries it away.
The players have emerged from the tunnel to a nearly empty Estadio Nueva Condomina. Big lockdown atmosphere! First a recording of the Star-Spangled Banner, then a recording of Saudi Arabia’s national anthem. We should be under way momentarily and we’ll pick it up with minute-by-minute coverage from there.
Berhalter’s XI for today’s friendly (average age: 25 years, 73 days) is an experienced one by this cycle’s standards. The starters have averaged 33 international appearances, the highest for a US lineup in nearly three years. A couple of other newsy notes:
• Yedlin will make his 75th appearance, moving into a tie with Mike Burns for 31st on the team’s all-time caps list. But he’s the first to reach the milestone since Jozy Altidore in 2014.
• Pepi earns his first appearance since starting the final World Cup qualifier at Costa Rica on 30 March. The 19-year-old from El Paso, who was recently loaned to Dutch side Groningen and scored his first goal in nearly a year, gets the call in front alongside Pulisic, who missed the Japan match on Friday due to an injury picked up in training.
• The United States have played six times all-time against Saudi Arabia, winning three, losing two and drawing one. But this is their first meeting since the third-place match of the 1999 Confederations Cup, when the US won 2-0 behind goals from Paul Bravo and Brian McBride (and Berhalter started at center back).
• Interestingly enough (or not), Berhalter also made his international debut against Saudi Arabia in a friendly on 19 October 1994 in Dharan.
• Matt Turner becomes the ninth USMNT goalkeeper to earn 20 caps. The 27-year-old Arsenal backup holds a record of 14 wins, three losses and two draws, keeping 13 clean sheets in his previous 19 appearances.
• Acosta, Adams and McKennie line up together in a three-man midfield for the first time. It’s also the first time Pepi, Pulisic and Reyna will play alongside each other up front.
Berhalter has made four changes to the lineup from Friday’s match against Japan. DeAndre Yedlin is in on the back line, Kellyn Acosta joins the midfield while Ricardo Pepi and Christian Pulisic are up top.
XI: M Alyami, S Abdulhamid, A Albulayhi (C), A Alamri, S Alghanam, N Aldawsari, R Sharahili, A Alhassan, H Babhir, F Alburaikan, S Alnajei
Subs: F Alqarni, N Alaqidi, A Madu, H Altambakti, A Bamasaud, A Alnashri, M Kanoo, N Alabid, F Almuwallad, H Asiri, H Camara
Manager: Gregg Berhalter
XI: M Turner, S Dest, W Zimmerman, T Adams, A Long, W McKennie, C Pulisic (C), R Pepi, G Reyna, D Yedlin, K Acosta
Subs: E Horvath, S Johnson, S Vines, P Arriola, J Ferreira, B Aaronson, E Palmer-Brown, J Morris, L De La Torre, J Cardoso, M McKenzie, M Tillman, J Sargent, J Scally
Manager: Herve Renard
Referee: Ivan Bebek (Croatia)
Hello and welcome to Murcia as the United States meet Saudi Arabia in their last friendly before Qatar 2022. Gregg Berhalter’s side enter today’s final tune-up coming off an underwhelming 2-0 defeat against Japan on Friday in which they failed to record a shot on target and in need of a far more positive showing today at the Estadio Nueva Condomina to allay fears with the World Cup less than eight weeks away.
Kickoff is just over a half hour away. We’ll be back with the team sheets directly.
Bryan will be here shortly. In the meantime, here’s how the US got on in their previous game:
Daichi Kamada scored following Weston McKennie’s giveaway in the 24th minute, Kaoru Mitoma added a goal in the 88th, and Japan beat a lackluster and injury-depleted United States 2-0 on Friday in Düsseldorf, Germany, in the Americans’ next-to-last World Cup warmup.
The Americans failed to get a single shot on goal, playing a dismal first half and showing only slightly more initiative after four changes at halftime. They have one win, five losses and four draws in 10 road games since a victory at Northern Ireland in March 2021, and just one goal in their last five away games.
US star Christian Pulisic did not dress because of an unspecified injury. The 14th-ranked Americans already were without Tim Weah, Yunus Musah, Chris Richards, Antonee Robinson and Zack Steffen, and Miles Robinson will miss the World Cup because of a torn achilles.
A series of defensive breakdowns plagued the US in the first half and put pressure on goalkeeper Matt Turner, who has played just one match this season for Arsenal. Turner made a pair of diving saves in the second half, on Junya Ito in the 55th and Kamada in the 65th.