Saudi Arabia vs. USA LIVE: Pulisic STARTS in USMNT World Cup warm-up

Saudi Arabia 0-0 USA: Big improvement needed by USMNT for the World Cup as Gregg Berhalter’s side – with Christian Pulisic starting – toil and produce an awful display in a drab draw

  • An uninspiring performance left the USMNT with more questions than answers 
  • Berhalter started Ricardo Pepi, who failed to impress in his final chance to prove he deserved a spot on the United States’ final roster
  • In the last two games, the USMNT only managed two shots on target combined
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  • Click here for all the latest World Cup 2022 news and updates

It was not a game that inspired a lot of confidence. In one of the worst performances the United States has put up under Gregg Berhalter, a squad consisting of mostly starters failed to find a goal against Saudi Arabia’s B-team on Tuesday. 

The United States registered just TWO shots on target across 180 minutes of pre-World Cup play these past few days. The first game, they played a good Japan squad that fielded a good portion of their starters. Saudi Arabia fielded their B-team. 

Berhalter seemed dejected in the post match interview he gave with Fox’s Jenny Taft. He told her multiple players lacked confidence in this game and he wanted to see that back.

Afterwards, he told reporters that players weren’t bringing their A-game over the last two matches. 

Christian Pulisic captained this team but could not lead them to finding a goal

‘There’s not many players that performed up to their normal levels at this camp… anyone you’d want to ask [about], I’d say they performed below their normal levels.’ 

Berhalter fielded a majority of his starting lineup this game and came out of Murcia with exactly two shots on target. Both were easy saves made by Saudi backup keeper Mohammed Alyami.

It appeared that all the United States was going to do on attack was spring players forward for lofted through balls to set up a quick cross. That plan was often cancelled out by Saudi Arabia flooding the box with defenders and the ball hardly ever finding an American head. 

A few players fighting for their spots started this game. Aaron Long put in a pretty good performance this game at center back alongside Walker Zimmerman. Mark McKenzie made a few mistakes when he replaced Long, but still looked good on the back line. Joe Scally was brought on as DeAndre Yedlin was taken off due to injury and didn’t seem out of place.

Paul Arriola was brought on in the 30′ after Gio Reyna felt tension in his hamstring and was taken off as a precaution. Arriola showed flickers of attacking talent which were quickly blown out with mistakes – such as blasting a one-on-one chance with the keeper 10 feet to the left in an attempt to curl it. That may have been the best chance of the night for the United States.

Ricardo Pepi failed to impress in what was his last chance to prove he belonged on the roster

Starting this game at striker was Ricardo Pepi. American midfielders tried a few times to find him in the middle early on, but he never put up any serious attacking chances. He was taken off in the 60′ for Jesus Ferreira, who put up a shot on target within minutes of entering the game.

After the game, Berhalter said that none of his questions surrounding the no. 9 position were answered by tonight’s performance, saying that Pepi didn’t have much to go on. Pepi hasn’t scored a goal in his last ten games for the USMNT. 

The USMNT roster is released November 9, with World Cup training camp coming shortly after that.

Gio Reyna (21) left the game early in the 30th minute after experiencing tightness in his leg

Host commentator

There are less than 55 days until the World Cup. May we all hope the United States finds a solution before then. Have a great rest of your Tuesday!

Thankfully, the game is over. The United States do not look like a team that qualified for the World Cup, their tactics were questionable, and Gregg Berhalter has a lot of thinking and explaining to do.

Can the United States find the net within the remaining time?

A cross gets sent away but leaves Scally in a heap on the ground. No foul is called.

Paul Arriola is unmarked in the box with the ball at his feet, one-on-one with the goalkeeper. He shoots it about 10 yards wide of the net.

Malik Tillman comes on for the captain Pulisic, who gives the armband to Adams. Aaronson takes over for McKennie.

Pulisic also seemed to send a message by not talking to Berhalter after being sent off.

Pulisic throws the captain's armband to Adams and then sprints straight to the bench as subbed off. High-fived teammates, didn't dap up Berhalter.

I don't know his intent, obviously. But that was an… interesting moment.

The United States has controlled possession, but hasn’t produced quality chances. It’s a frustrating and disappointing performance.

Mark McKenzie struggles to maintain possession and turns the ball over. Turner reads the shot well and gets the save while Dest prevents a rebound from happening.

Off comes Albrikan, Aldawsari, and Alhassan.

On comes Almuwallad, Alabed and Kanno

A high, looping corner kick just barely missed the head of Walker Zimmerman

The second save of the night for the backup keeper comes as Ferreira boots it right at him.

Two defensive substitutions for the Americans. DeAndre Yedlin comes off replaced by Joe Scally while Aaron Long comes off replaced by Mark McKenzie.

The final substitution is at striker with Ricardo Pepi subbed off for Jesus Ferreira. Pepi needed to show improvement this game to secure a Qatar spot. After his performance today, it’s hard to see that happening now.

Saud Abdulhamid puts in a vicious tackle on DeAndre Yedlin and the referee goes to the book for the first time. You could argue it should be a red.

It’s been an uneventful start to the second half, with Turner grabbing a cross out of the air.

The Green Falcons didn’t get a good chance from the corner and the resulting play afterwards didn’t give them a good chance either.

The whistle is blown and we are back

A USSF spokesperson says Reyna’s substitution at the 30′ wasn’t planned by the team. Berhalter followed Reyna down the tunnel and then returned. Not a good sign for the American. He told Fox’s Jenny Taft that the move was precautionary.

60% possession

5 total shots / 1 shot on target / 3 shots off target / 1 shot blocked / 3 shots outside box

3 fouls committed

4 offsides

90% pass accuracy

40% possession

5 total shots / 1 shot on target / 2 shots off target/ 2 shots blocked / 4 shots outside box

6 fouls committed

77% pass accuracy

After a minute of added time, the half ends with no significant chances or opportunities. It’s been a chippy half that could boil over in the next one if the referee doesn’t gain control soon.

The referees may have missed a foul in the box – but there’s no VAR in this game. After a recovery from the US, a cross is blocked for a corner. The ensuing cross didn’t find an American forehead.

The USMNT haven’t been generating quality chances – with a lobbed through ball intended for Acosta ruled offside.

Saudi Arabia has been chippy all game, lashing out and shoving players after whistles. The referee hasn’t gone to his pocket yet, but you feel that may be coming soon.

Adams is seen lying on the ground grabbing the back of his leg. He gets up and continues on. 

About three chances at shots were kept out of net by a scrambling American defense. A chance at a wide open net was blocked but found the feet of a Saudi attacker, but it was scooped clear by Arriola. 

It’s a swap of midfielders for the Green Falcons.

Reyna’s day is done early as Paul Arriola enters the game.

A foul sets up the free kick for Saudi Arabia just outside the box… where it sails high over the crossbar. 

Bahbri tackles Dest from behind to the left of the box setting up a free kick. The cross in just missed the head of Aaron Long, who tried to get up and knock it in. 

A battle for the ball sent it back to the top of the box. Tyler Adams put in a powerful attempt from about 27 yards out but it just barely missed the left post of the goal.

Pulisic gets a great one-two pass that he tries getting to Pepi, but it’s cleared away by the Saudi defense. The following corner gets parried away by Alyami. 

Pulisic gets free space in behind the Saudi defenses off a free kick. He tried putting his header on goal, but it was well wide of the net.

A cross from Yedlin couldn’t find anyone in the box. After looping high and far, Acosta tried shooting it off the volley, but it went high.

A turnover from Dest leads to two quick Saudi passes and a shot that went left of the goal

Once again, a ball came over the top for McKennie. This time, he held up play to let his teammates get into the attacking third. A few passes around the box couldn’t find anything and a long effort to get the ball back to McKennie rolled out of bounds

A great ball over the top for Weston McKennie doesn’t result in a goal as the American stops at the top of the box to control the ball and fires a weak shot to the Saudi keeper

A few crosses peppered the box of the USMNT, but nothing came of it

A great combination and buildup for the United States, but Pepi’s give-and-go pass fed to him by Pulisic doesn’t find McKennie in time and the flag goes up.

Gio Reyna’s pass for Ricardo Pepi comes too late and the flag goes up. Saudi Arabia have held more possession so far, but haven’t put enough pressure on the American defense.

Only 25 seconds in and Matt Turner already has his first save of the game

The game goes live here at Estadio Enrique Roca in Murcia, Spain

The United States is out in their much maligned blue away kits. Saudi Arabia is wearing their white home kits.

Coach Gregg Berhalter expressed disappointment after a 2-0 loss to Japan. Facing a weaker Saudi Arabia side, can the USMNT pick up a confidence boosting win?

The Arsenal man is starting his second game in a row. With a starting spot up for grabs, can Turner seal the deal today? 

Since joining FC Augsburg, the former FC Dallas striker has seemed like a shell of himself. A loan move to Groningen has only seen him play two matches, grabbing a goal and an assist. However, he hasn’t scored for the USA in his last nine matches. Can he score today to prove to coach Gregg Berhalter that he deserves a ticket to Qatar?

He was left off the roster for the game against Japan at the Merkur Spiel-Arena in Dusseldorf last Friday. He’ll get some run with the team wearing the captain’s armband this game

1 – Mohammed Alyami, 2 – Sultan Alghannam, 4 – Abdulelah Alamri, 5 – Ali Albulayhi (capt.), 9 – Firas Albrikan, 12 – Saud Abdulhamid, 15 – Ali Alhassan, 16 – Sami Alnajei, 24 – Nasser Aldawsari, 26 – Riyadh Sharahili, 27 – Hattan Bahbri


Subs: Fawaz Alqarni, Nawaf Alaqidi, Abdullah Madu, Hassan Tambakti, Ahmed Bamsaud, Awad Alnashri, Mohamed Kanno, Nawaf Alabed, Fahad Almuwallad, Haitham Asiri, Haroune Camara

🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia 🆚 United States 🇺🇸

1-Matt Turner, 2-Sergiño Dest, 3-Walker Zimmerman, 4-Tyler Adams, 5-Aaron Long, 8-Weston McKennie, 10-Christian Pulisic (capt.), 19-Ricardo Pepi, 21-Gio Reyna, 22-DeAndre Yedlin, 23-Kellyn Acosta


Subs: 18-Ethan Horvath, 25-Sean Johnson, 6-Sam Vines, 7-Paul Arriola, 9-Jesús Ferreira, 11-Brenden Aaronson, 12-Erik Palmer-Brown, 13-Jordan Morris, 14-Luca de la Torre, 15-Johnny Cardoso, 16-Mark McKenzie, 17-Malik Tillman, 24-Josh Sargent, 26-Joe Scally

End September strong. 👊

It’s the final international match the United States will play before they meet again in Qatar in just a few months time. 

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