The USMNT’s 2-0 loss to Japan on Friday didn’t look much better in the second half.
That wasn’t exactly surprising, but it was still worth looking back to see if a new conclusion could be reached with just one game between them and the World Cup. Reviews have changed for certain players, but the main points about the USA’s struggles in possession and strength are only reinforced with a second glance and a closer look at the stats.
“It was poor coaching, poor execution, poor training, it was a lot of things,” United States head coach Greg Berhelter told reporters after Monday’s friendly against Saudi Arabia in Murcia, Spain. “It’s just one of those games. We were really bad.”
As Paul Tenorio and I pointed out in our post-game segments, Japan forced the U.S. to start attacking through center backs Walker Zimmerman and Aaron Long. The US typically likes to build up the flanks, but Japan organized itself to cut off passing lanes from Long and Zimmerman to fullbacks and wings. The game is mostly played through the American midfield.
Compare that to the same map that Zimmermann’s forwards played since Friday’s loss to the U.S.’s 3-0 win over Honduras in February in a World Cup qualifier. You’ll see Zimmerman play more forehands to the right on Friday than he did in February. The map on Honduras is more familiar to him than the map on Japan.
Zimmerman’s Future With Japan:
Zimmerman passed in front of Honduras
Japan forced America.