US coach Berhalter: ‘We got our butts kicked’ by Japan

Sep 25, 2022, 11:23 PM | Updated: Sep 26, 2022, 11:25 am
Christian Pulisic follows the game from the bench during the international friendly soccer match be...

Christian Pulisic follows the game from the bench during the international friendly soccer match between USA and Japan as part of the Kirin Challenge Cup in Duesseldorf, Germany, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

(AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Christian Pulisic and Ricardo Pepi will join the U.S. starting lineup for the Americans’ last World Cup warmup against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday night after coach Gregg Berhalter admitted “we got our butts kicked” by Japan last week.

The 14th-ranked U.S. failed to get a single shot on target in Friday’s 2-0 defeat to No 24 Japan, a match Pulisic missed because of an unspecified injury.

“I think it was a poor performance from us. We got our butts kicked and we’re not proud of it,” Berhalter said Monday in Murcia, Spain, ahead of the last exhibition. “We think we should have played much better, we could have played much better, and we didn’t. So we want to play better in this game. But I think it starts with the collective, us playing together more cohesive. And if we can do that, we’ll be fine.”

Berhalter plans to announce his 26-man World Cup roster on Nov. 9, 12 days before the Americans open in Qatar against No. 19 Wales. The U.S. plays fifth-ranked England on Black Friday and closes the first round against 22nd-ranked Iran on Nov. 29.

For players, a trip to the World Cup is a highlight of their careers, leading to intense pressure to make the roster.

“I think naturally guys are going to be nervous,” said 29-year-old right back DeAndre Yedlin, who is likely to be the only holdover from the 2014 U.S. World Cup squad. “It’s just down to crunch time now. So like I said, obviously guys can have anxiety or whatever about making the squad, but we just need to do what’s best for the team.”

Goalkeeper Zack Steffen, left back Antonee Robinson, central defender Chris Richards, midfielder Yunus Musah and winger Tim Weah are not in camp because of injuries, and backup right back Reggie Cannon emerged from Friday’s match with an injured groin.

“Do I think that we have the best players in each position identified? Yes. Do I think they’re all going to be available for start of the World Cup? I don’t know,” Berhalter said. “And that’s just what every international manager will be dealing with right now. We’ll be holding our breaths, hoping that that’s the case. But even in this camp, we’re missing five starters. So it just is what it is. And you got to roll with it. And you can’t use it as an excuse. And what you need to do is give the players that are here confidence instead of worrying about the players that aren’t here.”

Jesús Ferreira played at forward in the first half against Japan, putting an open header wide, and Josh Sargent replaced him for the second half in his first national team appearance in a year.

Pepi ended a 30-match, 345-day scoreless streak for club and country when he scored his first goal for Groningen on Sept. 17.

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

No. 53 Saudi Arabia played a 0-0 draw against World Cup-bound Ecuador on Friday in Murcia. The Saudis play No. 3 Argentina, 26th-ranked Poland and No. 12 Mexico at the tournament.

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


More AP soccer: and

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Large advertisements adorn buildings and electronic billboards leading up to the NFL Super Bowl LVI...
Associated Press

Fox sells out Super Bowl ads: crypto out, alcohol in

NEW YORK (AP) — Fox says it has sold out all of its Super Bowl LVII ad space as of the end of January. The big game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles takes place on Sunday. The Super Bowl is advertising’s biggest stage, with advertisers jockeying to get their products in […]
1 day ago
Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior, left, in action against Mallorca's goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic durin...
Associated Press

Vinícius Júnior again targeted by racist insults in Spain

MADRID (AP) — The hate attacks against Vinícius Júnior continued in Spain over the weekend, with the Brazil forward again being targeted by racist insults in a league match. The Spanish league said Monday it will investigate the latest attacks after television images showed someone calling him a monkey during Real Madrid’s 1-0 loss at […]
1 day ago
Italy's Federica Brignone speeds down the course during the super G portion of an alpine ski, women...
Associated Press

Brignone leads combined race at worlds; Shiffrin 0.96 behind

MERIBEL, France (AP) — Italian skier Federica Brignone posted the fastest time in the super-G portion of the women’s combined event Monday on the opening day of the world championships, leading defending champion Mikaela Shiffrin by almost a second. Racing under blue skies, Brignone found the fastest line on the Roc de Fer course as […]
1 day ago
FILE - Fans welcome Manchester City players before the start of the English Premier League soccer m...
Associated Press

Man City accused of misleading Premier League over finances

Manchester City was accused by the Premier League on Monday of providing misleading information about its finances over a nine-year period when the club was attempting to establish itself as a force in English and European soccer following its takeover by Abu Dhabi’s ruling family. The explosive development came at the end of a four-year […]
1 day ago
Field hockey players of a local club attend a training session, in Karachi, Pakistan, Sunday, Nov. ...
Associated Press

Sports pitch for level playing field in cricket-mad Pakistan

ISLAMABAD (AP) — On Islamabad’s outskirts, burly men bind together in a scrum on a rugby pitch that has seen better days. The sign bearing the club’s name is worn. The floodlights are too costly to use, given high electricity prices and the paltry $135 total that the club earns in membership fees every month. […]
1 day ago
NASCAR Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr. (19) poses for a photo with the championship trophy after...
Associated Press

Truex wins NASCAR’s sloppy return to Los Angeles Coliseum

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Martin Truex Jr. won NASCAR’s return to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for its season-opening exhibition race — a sloppy Sunday night extravaganza in which the Wiz Khalifa halftime show might have been the most entertaining part of the event. Truex took the lead with 25 laps to go in the […]
1 day ago
US coach Berhalter: ‘We got our butts kicked’ by Japan