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USMNT vs Saudi Arabia: Roundup, reactions and opinions

Gregg Berhalter’s team played out a goalless draw against the Asian side in the Spanish city of Murcia with his side failing to spark as the World Cup looms.

Gregg Berhalter: “No vamos a tener el mayor talento en el mundial. Nuestra ventaja es la hermandad”
Aitor AlcaldeGetty

Following last week’s drab 2-0 defeat to Japan in Germany, Gregg Berhalter’s men had a gilt edged opportunity to turn things around as they faced Saudi Arabia in Murcia (Spain) on Tuesday.

There was growing pressure on the USMNT after the defeat by an efficient ‘Samurai Blue’ in their penultimate warm-up, when they failed to record a shot on goal.

Sadly for US soccer lovers, the showing in Spain would have left fans with plenty to worry about ahead of the finals in Qatar as they failed to break down the Saudis.

The Murcia performance left little cause for optimism as the Americans get set to return to the World Cup stage four years after failing to qualify for the 2018 tournament in Russia.

With just two shots on goal, the lacklustre US created few opportunities and the departure of midfielder Giovanni Reyna in the 30th minute as a precautionary measure was a heavy blow.

Mohammed Al-Rubaie saved Weston McKennie’s shot from outside the box in the ninth minute while forward Jesus Ferreira squandered a prime opportunity to get on the scoresheet when he fired straight at the Saudi goalkeeper.

‘Nervy times’

“I can’t fault the effort but we need to keep improving,” US coach Berhalter said. “It’s nervy times - people are worried about being on the roster or not... The confidence isn’t there yet but we’ll get there.”

Gregg Berhalter, Head Coach of The United States
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Gregg Berhalter, Head Coach of The United StatesAitor AlcaldeGetty

Speaking post-game, Chelsea striker Christian Pulisic claimed that he is “not panicked” about the United States’ form ahead of the World Cup despite a winless international break.

“We had a pretty good first half,” Pulisic stated. “I think we had a couple of half-chances where we created some things.

“But I felt like we lost it a bit at the start of the second half, and they got a little bit of rhythm. We have to do more to figure out what we are going to do to create chances at the end of the day.

Christian Pulisic of the U.S
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Christian Pulisic of the U.SPABLO MORANOREUTERS

US fans concerned

Despite the positive noises coming from inside the US squad, that message of tranquility is not being well received by fans, who are concerned that progressing from Group B may be more complicated based on recent performances.

In their past three outings, Berhalter’s side have only found the net once and this will be a major source of concern as November looms.

The US will play in Group B with England, Iran and Wales at the World Cup, which begins on 20 November. Berhalter is expected to announce his final squad for the tournament on 9 November.