The United States men’s national team only has two more games to gear up for the 2022 World Cup. Those final two opponents for USMNT friendlies were revealed on Tuesday. The U.S. will be playing Japan and Saudi Arabia, two teams also competing at the 2022 World Cup.
USMNT Friendlies Announced
We're headed across the pond! ✈️Japan vs USA
Saudi Arabia vs USA
Estadio Nueva Condomina, Murcia, Spain
— USMNT (@USMNT) June 21, 2022
The USMNT have confirmed their final two matches before the 2022 FIFA World Cup.September 23 against Japan in Germany.
September 27 against Saudi Arabia in Spain. pic.twitter.com/ZGklA8EyKB
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) June 21, 2022
Both friendlies will be played in Europe. The game against Saudi Arabia already has a venue at the Estadio Nueva Condomina in Spain. It’s clear that the goal of these friendlies is preparation and not drawing a crowd as the game is being played in Real Murcia’s stadium. Real Murcia played in the fourth tier of Spain last season.
The stadium for the Japan friendly will be announced on a future date but it will be played somewhere in Germany. U.S. fans should also expect the game to be early in the morning.
Expecting a morning kickoff (US time) for the Japan match because of Japanese TV considerations. ESPN and Univision platforms will provide coverage. Expecting afternoon kickoff for Saudi match on FS1 and Univision platforms.— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) June 21, 2022
Are These Friendlies Good?
In this writer’s opinion these friendlies aren’t too shabby. The FIFA rankings have Japan at 23rd in the world and Saudi Arabia 49th (the U.S. is 15th). Both opponents are World Cup bound teams which is the type of opponent you want your team to face.
One thing World Cup teams try to do is schedule friendlies against teams from the same confederations as the opponents in their World Cup group. For the U.S. the World Cup opponents are England, Wales and Iran. Saudi Arabia is a similar opponent to Iran, while Japan also plays in the AFC and is a top team in the world.
Scheduling a friendly against a European opponent is practically impossible due to the UEFA Nations League.
Another positive aspect of these friendlies is that they are both in a neutral location. The U.S. hasn’t played a friendly game away from home since May 2021 when the team played and lost to Switzerland. It will be good prep for the USMNT to not have home-field advantage.
Japan has arguably the toughest World Cup group with Germany, Spain and Costa Rica populating Group E. Saudi Arabia will also have an uphill battle in Group C against Argentina, Mexico and Poland.
The USMNT has only ever played Japan twice, winning once most recently in a 2006 friendly and a loss in 1993.
Saudi Arabia and the U.S. haven’t played each other since 1999. The U.S. holds a record of 3-2-1.