US coach Berhalter: “Japan kicked our ass” | Soccer

Christian Pulisic and Ricardo Pepi will join the US starting line-up in Tuesday night’s final World Cup warm-up game against Saudi Arabia after coach Gregg Berhalter admitted that Japan “kicked our butt” last week.

The 14th American failed to score a shot on Friday in Friday’s 2-0 defeat by No. 24 Japan, a game Pulisic missed with an unspecified injury.

“I think it was a poor performance from us. We got our ass kicked and we’re not proud of it,” Berhalter said on Monday in Murcia, Spain, ahead of the final show. “We think we should have played a lot better, we could have played a lot better and we didn’t. t. That’s why we want to play better in this game. But I think it starts with the collective, that we play together more closely. And if we can do that, we will be fine.”

Berhalter plans to announce his 26-man World Cup squad on November 9, 12 days before the Americans take on No.19 Wales in Qatar. The USA will play fifth-placed England on Black Friday and will finish the first round on November 29 against 22nd-placed Iran.

For players, a trip to the World Cup is a high point in their careers, which puts a lot of pressure on getting into the squad.

“Obviously I think the guys are going to be nervous,” said right-back DeAndre Yedlin, 29, who is likely to be the only holdover from the US 2014 World Cup squad. “It’s just time for crunch now. So, like I said, of course guys can be scared or whatever when it comes to getting into the squad, but we just have to do what’s best for the team.”

Goalkeeper Zack Steffen, left-back Antonee Robinson, centre-back Chris Richards, midfielder Yunus Musah and winger Tim Weah are absent from camp with injuries, and reserve right-back Reggie Cannon was sidelined from Friday’s game with a groin injury.

“Do I think we’ve identified the best players in each position? Yes. Do I think they will all be available when the World Cup starts? I don’t know,” Berhalter said. “And that is exactly what every international manager is currently dealing with. We’ll hold our breath and hope that’s the case. But we are missing five starters in this camp as well. So it just is what it is. And you have to roll with it. And you can’t use it as an excuse. And what you have to do is give confidence to the players who are here instead of worrying about the players who are not here.”

Jesús Ferreira played as a striker in the first half against Japan and headed an open header wide, and Josh Sargent replaced him in the second half in his first international appearance in a year.

Pepi ended a streak of 30 games and 345 days without a goal for club and country when he scored his first goal for Groningen on 17 September.

And Berhalter has been criticized by some for not picking Jordan Pefok, who has scored three goals in his first six Bundesliga games this season with Union Berlin.

Saudi Arabia, number 53, drew 0-0 with World Cup contenders Ecuador in Murcia on Friday. The Saudis play No. 3 Argentina, 26th Poland and No. 12 Mexico in this tournament.

“I don’t really see them as similar to the opponents in our group,” said Berhalter, “but it’s a cohesive team. Most of the players in the starting XI come from two clubs so we know that gives them cohesion.”

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