Tottenham – Man City: Live analysis, reaction, video

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Tottenham – Manchester City was a mouthwatering clash on Saturday (start time 12:30pm ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com) and Spurs won 2-0 to move top of the Premier League table.

[ MORE: Player ratings | 3 things learned ]

Jose Mourinho got one over Pep Guardiola again as Spurs sat back, soaked up pressure and Heung-min Son and Giovani Lo Celso scored in each half as City rued missed opportunities.

REPLAY: TOTTENHAM – MANCHESTER CITY

This clash starts a pivotal run of games for Mourinho’s Spurs as they face Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool in three of their next four games after meeting Man City. As for City, they are now eight points behind Tottenham but have a game in-hand.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Here’s everything you need to know on Tottenham – Manchester City.


Minute-by-minute analysis, live from the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for Tottenham – Manchester City

Manager and player reaction: Jose Mourinho doesn’t look too pleased, but he should be. He’s going through his many, many media interviews after the game, so too is Pep Guardiola, Kevin de Bruyne, Ruben Dias, Serge Aurier and a certain Mr. Kane.

Harry Kane reveals the game plan for Man City to our partners Sky Sports: “We had a game plan to play as a unit. Everyone worked their socks off today. We took our chance, Sonny with a great goal. And then we knew it would open up in the second half. I knew if I dropped deep then the centre-backs would come with me and Sonny could run in behind. We dropped deep, probably more than we needed to, but we changed that at half-time.”

Kane gets special praise from Mourinho: Tottenham’s manager tells ProSoccerTalk that he can ‘redefine the striker position’ and that he sets the tone for everything good his team does, as his man of the match display today proved. Too right. Kane battled hard, set up chances and was a menace who inspired his teammates.

Mourinho lauds his players for their win against Man City: “For me I prefer the players to speak because they are the ones, they were fantastic. They give everything. They follow strategy and football sometimes, more than ever strategy plays an important part. They were amazing. This guy, Harry Kane represents the spirit of all the other guys, the way he works for the team is the same way the other guys do. It was very important to respect them and not to forget the team they are. If you follow people speaking about them not being as good as before. If you follow the fake table with them playing one fewer match, you play a different game. We found a play and it was magnificent to see them do what they did. Super congratulations to the players. The referee was really really good. City is a fantastic team that lost against a team that was strategically good.”

Pep Guardiola with a clear theme from his press conference: We played well, but we can’t score.


Player ratings out of 10: Here are my ratings for the players on both teams, as there was a clear man of the match in a real clash of styles.

3 things we learned: And here is what Nick Mendola learned from a dogged defensive display which lifts Mourinho’s men to top spot in the table.


Full time whistle goes! Tottenham are top of the table. Mourinho’s boys did a job on Man City. They let them have the ball, were tough to break down and made the most of their chances. This was a typical display from a Mourinho side as they ground it out against Man City. Pep Guardiola’s side just weren’t at their best and Spurs have now recorded four wins on the trot.

89th minute: What a save from Hugo Lloris! He denies Dias late on from point-blank range. Man City could be playing here until December and wouldn’t score.

85th minute: Harry Kane has been immense today. He’s winning so many free kicks late on and is carrying Spurs over the line. A complete striker. He is a juggernaut.

79th minute: Not the reaction Pep Guardiola would have wanted from his side after he signed his new contract, is it? Pep’s boys have been silky on the ball but there’s been no substance to their play. Guaranteed Pep will still praise them massively after the game.

74th minute: Okay, Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden are on now. Can they rescue a point for City late on!? They have to be more direct than Mahrez and Silva were.

65th minute: GOALLLLL! Talk about making an impact off the bench. Giovani Lo Celso is found by Harry Kane and he finishes superbly across goal. Spurs in dreamland. Clinical from Mourinho’s boys, as the directors go wild in the box just behind the dugouts. Well, they put down their expensive hip flasks full of whiskey and looked quite chuffed as they applauded vigorously. So, yeah, they went wild…

63rd minute: Spurs bring on Lo Celso for Ndombele. The hosts have calmed things down and had a decent spell of possession. Eric Dier is so vocal, shouting at his midfield and strikers and telling them where to move. ‘H, don’t drop!’ ‘No, Stevie, stay there.’ Man City are very preditcable. That is their biggest problem. Mahrez and Silva keep cutting back and slowing the game down. That is playing into Spurs’ hands.

55th minute: Every time I look up, Kevin de Bruyne is on the ball in a dangerous area. This time he chips over. Hojbjerg, who was made for a game like this, is rallying the troops like the born general he is.

49th minute: That was close! I thought that was in, and so too did Phil Foden who is warming up in front of me and puts his arms up in celebration. Kevin de Bruyne was picked out after Serge Aurier’s loose pass and his low curler scuttled just wide. City dominant, just like the first half.


My half time thoughts: The techno music blaring out here sums up the mood. It is lively and feisty. Club de Spurs will be happy at half time. Mourinho’s men scored early, looked a threat on the break and sat back and did their best to frustrate City. That said, Pep Guardiola will be thinking that if his players keep playing like this, the floodgates will open when they do score. They have Sterling and Aguero on the bench, don’t forget.

Half time whistle blows: Several Man City players follow Walker’s lead as the half time whistle blows. Bernardo Silva and Kevin de Bruyne throw their arms in the air in disgust as four Man City players surround the officials and remonstrate with them for over 40 yards as they walk off the pitch. Gabriel Jesus is almost in tears as he tries to explain that he didn’t commit a handball. Walker is waiting by the tunnel for Dean to carry on his complaints too.


45th minute: Kyle Walker is clearly getting frustrated with Mike Dean about letting Spurs get away with time-wasting. ‘Ref, you’re letting them do whatever they want.’ He then counts as Spurs take a long time to collect the ball and then take a throw. ‘7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12… They don’t want to play football.’ Walker isn’t happy.

42nd minute: Man City want another penalty. Ferran Torres goes down, but there was no contact there. Jesus slams the loose ball wide. Man City are not happy, at all, as they complain in unison.

36th minute: Man City continue to dominate. They are incensed, once again, as Laporte catches Harry Kane who is clutching his ankle. That play falls into the ‘clever’ category from Kane. Not that Mourinho likes it when you call him clever. Gareth Bale, Joe Rodon and Ben Davies are warming up together in front of me on the sidelines. ‘The Three Welsh-eteers’ some might say…

29th minute: DRAMA! Aymeric Laporte thought he had equalized after Hugo Lloris initially saved a header, but VAR is used and Mike Dean is told to use the pitch-side monitor. He does, and sees that Gabriel Jesus handled just before Laporte slammed home. The correct decision, clearly, but that didn’t stop the Man City players let out blood-curdling screams as the replay was shown on the big screen here in the stadium.

26th minute: Bergwijn goes down in the box as Rodri arrives just as he’s about to shoot. No penalty. Man City then break with Kevin de Bruyne running at full speed while Mourinho claps incessantly on the sidelines for his team to track back. Bernardo Silva takes too long and Man City win a corner.

23rd minute: Son is in down the right, again, as one long pass catches Man City out. Cancelo is having a tough time at left back. Sergio Reguilon then screams like a baby goat as he wants the ball out left but it doesn’t come to him. Calm down, kid. I’ll see myself out…

20th minute: Things have calmed down, slightly, but Man City have had plenty of free kicks and corner. Kevin de Bruyne is running the show in midfield.

13th minute: Just as Dias is calling for them to push up, they are done over the top with a long ball. Bergwijn finds Son who finds Kane, but the latter is just a smidgen offside. The stadium PA operator briefly played Sandstorm by Darude in celebration. I’m talking about 2 seconds of it before the music is cut abruptly as if the villain has just walked into the party and every turned around to stare. Comical moment.

9th minute: Ruben Dias keeps yelling, ‘squeeze’ and ‘press high’ as he’s trying to get Man City up the pitch early. He’s so vocal and really trying to drag Man City back into this.

7th minute: Talk about unlucky. Gabriel Jesus goes on a mazy run, falls over, no foul is given. The ball breaks to Kevin de Bruyne, his shot is going in… but it hits Jesus who is on the floor. It was going in. The flag goes up as Jesus was in an offside position. Man City continue to dominate.

5th minute: GOALLL! Tottenham lead early and it is that man Heung-min Son. He runs onto a lovely ball from Tanguy Ndombele, Man City’s entire defensive unit is caught too high and Son sidesteps the onrushing Ederson and slots home. So easy for Spurs, after Man City had dominated early on too.

3rd minute: Man City’s bench is properly up for this one. The entire bench goes up after they don’t win a foul.

1st minute: Mourinho shouts “goooo!” when Man City play the ball across the defensive line. He wants Tottenham to press high.


Kick off! Touching tribute to Tottenham and England legendary goalkeeper Ray Clemence, who passed away at the age of 72 earlier this week. A poignant minute of applause observed by everyone inside the stadium. The applause ends on a whistle from the referee, as the chant of ‘Come on you Spurssssss!’ then rings out over the speakers. There are no fans here, obviously, but there is a real buzz ahead of this game.


Pre-game shenanigans: Welcome to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on a slightly chilly evening here in north London!

The UK is a national lockdown, and that means everyone over here will be cosying up at home to watch a mouthwatering clash between Mourinho’s Tottenham and Guardiola’s Man City. All eyes are on Spurs and City, and keeping an eye on the warm up here, Gabriel Jesus smashed himself in the head with a back heel (it was funny because he laughed, eventually) and Raheem Sterling looked very relaxed as he warmed up with the other subs.

Tottenham’s club staff milling around the stadium are all feeling one thing ahead of this: confidence.

Here’s a look at the scene around this beauty of a stadium as Avicii blasts over the loud speakers. It’s almost time.


Team news

Tottenham are looking pretty good on the injury front, although Matt Doherty will miss out due to testing positive for COVID-19 while on international duty with the Republic of Ireland. Doherty will now self-isolate, while Erik Lamela is also due to miss out as he is close to a return from a foot injury. Japhet Tanganga remains out.

Man City has Sergio Aguero back on the bench after he’s been out for the past month with a hamstring injury. Raheem Sterling is on the bench after picking up a knock while on international duty, while Fernandinho is not available.


What they’re saying ahead of Tottenham – Manchester City

Jose Mourinho, via his Instagram account, is clearly happy about the international break: “Amazing week of football. Great emotions in the national team matches, superb friendlies and total safety. Covid test results after matches been played, randomers running on the pitch while team sessions are taking place and much more. After another training session with only six players, it is now time to take care of myself.”

Pep Guardiola on wanting the five substitute rule to return: “It is not about taking advantage, it is about protecting the players… I don’t understand what benefit three or five is. The show must go on, it is not to play games or to not play games or take advantage with one or the other one. It is too much. The previous season finished later. It was different. It was too much. It was exceptional. The situation today is exceptional and all the leagues around the world understand the situation. Except here.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Manchester City (-125) are the favorites but Tottenham (+300) are worth a punt. The draw at +290 looks enticing.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Tottenham – Manchester City prediction

This will be a really tough one to call after so many players from both teams have just returned from the international break all over the world. I think that Man City have hit their stride in recent weeks and look much better defensively. With Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero back, that makes a big difference and Spurs will struggle to keep them quiet. Tottenham 1-3 Man City.


How to watch Tottenham – Manchester City stream and start time

Kickoff: 12:30pm ET Saturday
TV Channel: NBC
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com

Japan vs USMNT: Alarming defeat for Berhalter’s boys

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The USMNT lost to Japan after a hugely underwhelming performance from Gregg Berhalter’s side just 59 days before they kick off their World Cup campaign.

[ MORE: Player ratings ]

Dachai Kamada put Japan 1-0 up in the first half as the Samurai Blue were sharper throughout and the USMNT just couldn’t cope with their high-pressing, as Kaoru Mitoma curled home a beauty to make it 2-0 and seal the deserved win.

Berhalter’s USMNT had zero shots on goal, as they looked disjointed and befuddled throughout a very disappointing display in Dusseldorf, Germany.

With Christian Pulisic missing this game due to an injury, plus many other missing this camp, perhaps the USMNT can point to that having a huge impact on their performance.

However, there are now just 90 minutes of action separating the USMNT from the World Cup and unless they improve dramatically against Saudi Arabia next week, there will be a lot of pressure mounting on Berhalter’s young side.


What we learned from Japan vs USMNT

Huge number of giveaways a massive concern: In the first 35 minutes the USMNT gave the ball away 28 times in their own defensive third. 28. That rose to 39 times in a first half where they just couldn’t connect a pass and in defense and midfield they look so far off it. Weston McKennie’s horrible giveaway led to Japan’s opener and the USMNT never looked comfortable in possession. Yes, the pitch may have been bobbly but that didn’t impact Japan. Gregg Berhalter loves to play out of the back but Japan’s high-pressing befuddled the USMNT and they didn’t have a Plan B. On this showing  Wales, England and Iran press the U.S. high in November, they will have plenty of joy. Yes, the USMNT were missing Cameron Carter-Vickers, Antonee Robinson, Yunus Musah, Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah due to injury but there is no way this display should have been this disjointed.

Center back remains a big problem: Aaron Long and Walker Zimmerman owe Matt Turner a beer, or three, as he made big stops to bail them out. Both of the USMNT’s center backs made huge mistakes in the first half and Turner came up with saves to stop Japan from making the most of it. With all the talk around who will partner Zimmerman at center back in Qatar, we have more questions than answers after this display. There is perhaps a feeling that Cameron Carter-Vickers and Chris Richards may actually be a better pairing and Long and even Mark McKenzie may have played themselves out of the World Cup squad.

Japan a clinical finisher away from being very good: Okay, so now is probably not the time to panic for the USMNT as Japan are a very good team. They have a very tough group in the World Cup as they face Spain, Germany and Costa Rica in Group E. On this showing, they will give the powerhouses of Spain and Germany a run for their money. If Japan had a clinical forward, they would cause huge problems for opponents in Qatar. In midfield they are so slick and tidy and cause massive problems with their high-pressing.

Matt Turner is the first-choice goalkeeper: The main positive (perhaps only positive) to come from this game is that Matt Turner is the clear starter for the USMNT. He has only played once for Arsenal so far this season but he looks very sharp, made three important saves and he is ahead of Zack Steffen in the pecking order. Turner will get plenty of minutes in the Europa League and League Cup before the World Cup so he will be ready to roll in November.


Tactical focus

Japan pressed high in a 4-4-2 formation and let Long and Zimmerman have the ball and they were tasked with building out from the back. That did not go well for the USMNT in the first half as the gave the ball away so many times and Japan pressed in numbers, kept the ball well and should have scored a few goals early on. In the second half Sam Vines was asked to push further forward by Gregg Berhalter when the U.S. had the ball and basically play as a left winger. That meant the USMNT played in a 3-4-2-1 formation and although it left them a bit exposed defensively it at least helped them get on the front foot a little more in the second half. Still, there was still no fluency in midfield and attack to sustain any kind of pressure. Japan stopped the USMNT building from the back and the U.S. really had no Plan B.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]


What’s next?

A trip to the Murcia, Spain on Tuesday, Sept. 27 as they face Saudi Arabia in a friendly, their final game before the World Cup kicks off in November.


How to watch Japan vs USMNT live, updates and start time

Date: Friday, September 23
Kick off time: 8:25am ET
Where: Dusseldorf Arena, Germany
How to watch: ESPN 2, UnimasTUDN


Japan vs USMNT live analysis! – By Joe Prince-Wright

FULL TIME: Japan 2-0 USMNT. A very disappointing defeat and Gregg Berhalter will have plenty of concerns after witnessing that.

GOALLL! Mitoma curls home a beauty. Game. Set. Match. Japan have been excellent.

Brenden Aaronson whips a shot just wide. That is the closest the USMNT have come in the second half.

20 minutes to go in Dusseldorf. Not much going on for the USMNT.

SAVE! Matt Turner with a fine low stop to deny Kamada. McKenzie with the mistake and Kamada cut inside Cannon but Turner tipped it away. Japan pushing for the second.

Japan have settled down again and are knocking it around nicely. The U.S. bench are screaming for their players to get up the field.

A bit better from the USMNT in the second half. Sam Vines is being asked to push further up on the left flank. The U.S. are exposed defensively but at least have a few more options in attack.

Sargent, Morris, McKenzie and Cannon on at HT for the USMNT. Ferreira, Reyna, Long and Dest subbed off. Big 45 minutes coming up for the USMNT to see if they can get into this game.

HALF TIME: That was very poor from the USMNT. Japan deservedly lead and they should be ahead by more. No attacking intent from the U.S. whatsoever and so many bad giveaways.

Japan are totally in control here. They are knocking it around nicely and the USMNT just can’t keep the ball.

GOALLLL! 1-0 to Japan. Daichi Kamada finishes after another poor giveaway in midfield from USMNT, this time from McKennie. VAR used to give the goal after it was initially ruled out for offside. Japan totally deserve this lead. USA have been absolutely all over the place and could be down by at least a couple of goals.

Japan look so slick on the ball in the final third. USMNT just can’t deal with the speed of passing and movement. Being stretched all over the place.

SAVE! Great stop by Matt Turner to deny Kamada after a terrible giveaway from Walker Zimmerman. Japan should be 1-0 up. USMNT’s center back duo of Aaron Long and Zimmerman have both given the ball away very cheaply already which has led to Japan’s best chances. Not great.

CHANCE! Big opportunity for the USMNT, as Sergino Dest surges down the right and clips in a lovely cross to Jesus Ferreira. Six yards out and unmarked but he heads over. That’s a great chance wasted.

Pretty slow tempo to start this game. The grass looks pretty long on this pitch.

Aaron Long with a bad giveaway and Japan get a shot on target. They should have made more of that.

KICK OFF: We are underway in Dusseldorf! Luca de la Torre surges down the right but his cross is blocked. There is quite a racket inside the stadium with lots of drums but there aren’t many fans.

An update on Pulisic sounds more positive and he could actually face Saudi Arabia next week.

In terms of the actual players who will be facing Japan, there aren’t really any surprises here.

Sergino Dest starts at right back, Walker Zimmerman captains the side at center back and Luca de la Torre starts in central midfield alongside McKennie and Adams. Gio Reyna and Brenden Aaronson start as they will support Jesus Ferreira.

BREAKING team news: This is not great news for the USMNT. Christian Pulisic has been injured in training and will play no part against Japan. U.S. Soccer released a statement saying that Pulisic would be monitored and his availability for the game against Saudi Arabia next Tuesday will be determined soon. More details below, but this is a blow for Berhalter.

Hello and good morning! Get that coffee pot fired up and strap in for a key World Cup warm-up game for the USMNT. Only 180 minutes separates Gregg Berhalter’s boys from the World Cup in Qatar in November and this game against Japan is a huge opportunity for plenty of players.


Key storylines

The big storylines swirling around the USMNT ahead of these friendlies seem to have been swirling around this young team for much of the last two years: who is going to play up front and who will be the second center back?

With red-hot Jordan Pefok surprisingly left off this roster despite his incredible start to the season for Bundesliga leaders Union Berlin, the duo of Ricardo Pepi and Josh Sargent have been given one final chance to prove themselves to Berhalter. Gio Reyna is back in the squad, which is a huge boost, and it gives Berhalter so many options in the attacking midfield areas. How will he squeeze Brenden Aaronson, Christian Pulisic and Reyna into the same starting lineup? Can he?

At center back things have been complicated by injuries to Cameron Carter-Vickers and Chris Richards, who were set to battle it out to see who starts alongside Walker Zimmerman at the World Cup. The likes of Aaron Long, Mark McKenzie and Erik Palmer-Brown will see this as a huge opportunity to make the roster as it seems unlikely Miles Robinson will make the squad following his Achilles injury. Yunus Musah being out with an injury is a blow as he was certain to start alongside Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie in midfield. In goal, Zack Steffen is out after being out injured and only just returning so Ethan Horvath and Sean Johnson will battle it out for that third and final goalkeeping spot with Matt Turner now looking like the starter as he gets the nod to start against Japan.


Brenden Aaronson explains USMNT’s excitement

Leeds United playmaker Brenden Aaronson has had a fine start to his Premier League career over the last few months and the 21-year-old is fired up with the World Cup just two months away.

“It’s crazy to think how close the World Cup is, it’s at the back of your head,” Aaronson told reporters. “With Leeds at the moment I really haven’t had a chance to think about it but it’s really growing. Seeing the guys again and thinking ‘wow, this is the last two games before the World Cup comes.’ It comes as you fast. I think the preparation and what we’ve done over the last years, we’re all ready to go and we are all looking forward to it.”


Japan vs USMNT head-to-head record

This will be just the third meeting all-time between Japan and the USMNT, as the first meeting in 1993 in Tokyo saw the hosts run out 3-1 winners with Hugo Perez grabbing the USA’s only goal. The last time these teams met was in 2006 as the USMNT won 3-2 in San Francisco as goals from Eddie Pope, Clint Dempsey and Taylor Twellman put them 3-0 up and the U.S. held on for victory.


The lowdown on Japan

This is a very experienced side with captain Maya Yoshida (114 caps) marshalling the back line, plus full back Yuto Nagatoma (136 caps) and goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima (95 caps) also mainstays in this squad for at least a decade, plus Arsenal’s Takehiro Tomiyasu a key part of their defense. Daichi Kamada (Frankfurt), Ritsu Doan (Freiburg), Kyogo Furuhashi (Celtic) and Takumi Minamino (Monaco) are attacking talents to look out for. Japan and their boss Hajime Moriyasu know they have been handed a tough assessment at the World Cup but they’re usually very good at exceeding expectations and they breezed through qualifying in the Asian Football Confederation to reach their seventh-straight World Cup.


USMNT team news, injuries, lineup

With injuries in defense and midfield, opportunities have popped up all over the place for USMNT players to make one final statement before the World Cup roster is announced. Many expected  Erik Palmer-Brown and Mark McKenzie to get plenty of minutes at center back, but Aaron Long starts alongside Zimmerman. While there is a bit of a battle at left back with Antonee Robinson missing this squad with injury. Can Joe Scally and Sam Vines give Berhalter even more headaches in the full back area? Following his great start to the season with Antwerp, Vines starts at left back in this game against Japan.

Luca de la Torre starts in midfield alongside Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams, while up top is where this will get really intriguing. Berhalter will try to give balance to his side but also get all of his top attacking talents in the game at the same time. Berhalter has mentioned both Reyna and Aaronson will be looked at in a deeper central midfield role but with Christian Pulisic being out with an injury, Reyna and Aaronson start out wide. Duo Josh Sargent and Ricardo Pepi haven’t grabbed the No. 9 jersey from Jesus Ferreira, for now, as the FC Dallas star gets the nod up top.


Player ratings: USMNT outclassed by Japan in every way

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The USMNT showed a number of worrying signs in a 2-0 defeat to Japan on Friday, in the Yanks’ second-to-last friendly before the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

[ MORE: What we learned from Japan vs USA ]

To put it bluntly, it was a putrid performance from Gregg Berhalter’s side. With a couple of starters missing due to injury and a lack of quality options at other positions, these are increasingly worrying times for the USMNT.

Join our live Q&A over on NBC Sports’ YouTube channel following the Japan vs USMNT game on Friday, Sept. 23, as we will be live from around 10:30am ET to answer your questions!

Below are player ratings from the USMNT defeat to Japan…


USMNT player ratings vs Japan

GK – Matt Turner: 5 – As a shot-stopper, we know Turner is solid and more accomplished than Zack Steffen, the presumed no. 1b/2 goalkeeper (though currently injured), but the 28-year-old Arsenal backup was once again shaky in possession on Friday, giving the ball away either directly or indirectly on a handful of occasions during the disastrous first half.

RB – Sergiño Dest: 5 – Berhalter quite clearly wants the USMNT to progress the ball through the center of the field, which is a bit strange for someone who ascended to his current job by coaching a (heavily) wing-reliant system at Columbus Crew. In theory, that Berhalter should be great for Dest, who does his best work getting forward, but he’s effectively reduced to a stay-at-home right back in the current setup which, unsurprisingly, does not suit the 21-year-old at all.

CB – Walker Zimmerman: 5.5 – He’s probably fine as the complementary piece to a stalwart leader at center back, but he’s being asked to be that key figure.

CB – Aaron Long: 5 – It’s not Long’s fault (Berhalter is the one who keeps calling him up and starting him in a system that is terribly ill-fitted to his particular skill set, given the possession and passing demands placed upon center backs in the system), but it is his (and America’s) problem.

LB – Sam Vines: 4 – Look, Antonee Robinson is the unquestioned starter, but he’s currently injured. Vines is probably third-choice at left back (Dest is likeliest to slide across the field to deputize in a full-squad, tournament scenario), so it’s likely a moot point regarding the World Cup, but Vines was often beaten in behind while he offered nothing going forward.

DM – Tyler Adams: 5 – When you’re unable to keep and move the ball, any semblance of midfield balance is going to be destroyed. It looks like wave after wave of pressure after giving the ball away, completely overwhelmed and outnumbered as they sprint back toward their own goal.

CM – Luca de la Torre: 5.5 – Tasked with bringing such much-needed passing to a midfield missing Yunus Musah, the newly minted Celta Vigo man found himself under pressure and without much movement ahead of him. Not a great setup for a one-dimensional midfielder.

CM – Weston McKennie: 4 – It was tough to watch McKennie give the ball away (and then give it away again, and again) in the first half, whether the Japanese press was right in his face or nowhere near him. The below video of Daichi Kamada’s goal begins just after McKennie plays a perfect through ball (toward his own goal) to spring a Japanese counter-attack with plenty of numbers and momentum.

RW – Brenden Aaronson: 6 – It wasn’t pretty (or frequent), but most of what the USMNT managed to create (speculative shots either from distance or a crowd) came through/from Aaronson. His energy is a problem for opposing defensive units, but he’s the only one.

CF – Jesus Ferreira: 5.5 – Another anonymous performance from a USMNT center forward.

LW – Gio Reyna: 5.5 – Only played 45 minutes (he didn’t get hurt) and had a very limited impact due to not receiving the ball in the final third and a lack of combination play with Ferreira through the middle.

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USMNT reaction: Berhalter, Adams explain dismal display vs Japan

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The USMNT caused more new questions to be asked than they could answer in a 2-0 defeat to Japan on Friday, with head coach Gregg Berhalter and midfielder Tyler Adams left to explain their shortcomings after the game.

[ MORE: What we learned from Japan vs USA | Player ratings ]

Japan proved a difficult test just 59 days before the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and the USMNT had very few, if any, correct answers. Chiefly, the Yanks’ inability to progress the ball up the field in a meaningful way, which resulted in just four shots (zero on target).

Clearly, there was much for Berhalter and Co., to explain…


Gregg Berhalter: “I didn’t see a lot of personality tonight”

“It was a really competitive match. I think we ended up hurting ourselves a little bit too much in the game with silly giveaways. And we want a little more personality in the match. Give Japan a lot of credit: Good team, competitive team, they pressed well, but we can do better.

“For some reason, I didn’t see a lot of personality with that performance tonight.”

“We’ve got work to do. We clearly need to improve, but overall really good experience for this team.”

On the reason for the struggles, and if the pressure is growing heavy on the USMNT already — via ESPN

I don’t know if the proximity of the World Cup has anything to do with it, but the guys didn’t look fresh, and from a physical output we just looked a step behind,” said Berhalter. “And then it’s difficult, a team like Japan will punish you.

“The adjustment in the second half helped give us more control of the game, gave us more passes between the lines. But in the first half, I think it was just the lack of comfort on the ball, silly giveaways.

“We built the opponent up after a decent start, but then it started snowballing and giving some balls away and it wasn’t what we envisioned.


Tyler Adams: “We didn’t reach our standard today … played into their hands”

On failing to meet expectations and perform in an important moment…

“It’s definitely a tough one to take. I mean, you come here wanting to treat it like a group-stage game at the World Cup, in preparation for the World Cup, and we didn’t reach our standard today.

“We faced a talented team but in the end, it felt like we almost played into their hands. We had a little bit of frustration seep in. And you could just tell the team was off, a little late to tackles, late receiving the ball, finding solutions, being dangerous and creating chances like we normally do so. It’s a learning experience at the end of the day, and something that we got to take on the chin for the next game.”

On the USMNT game plan, and why it didn’t work — via ESPN

“I think that some of the teams in CONCACAF — you know, the Mexicos and Hondurases — they’ve pressed us, and we found solutions. We just needed to find solutions earlier on. I think that we had a match plan and I think it would’ve been effective if we stuck to our game plan.

“But, sometimes I just felt that maybe we just started to search for individual solutions instead of sticking together, sticking to the match plan, staying disciplined in our game plan. And you saw Japan — they did that well. They had one game plan and it was effective.”

“In the beginning, it was: if the wingers were pressing narrow, then we were gonna find the solutions in the overlap; we would get Sergiño [Dest] and Sam [Vines] the ball and find the channel down the line. If they were pressing wide, then me and Weston [McKennie] and Luca [de la Torre] should have found space on the ball.

“We just didn’t find those solutions early on. I think we rushed things and forced things, and that caused a lot of turnovers in dangerous areas.”

On the USMNT facing a team of Japan’s quality ahead of the World Cup…

“You have to give credit to Japan, they’re such a talented team. I played against a bunch of those guys in the Bundesliga before and they have quality all over the field, and they showed it tonight.

“So credit to their game plan, it worked. But it didn’t feel like we executed our match plan going into the game. We can’t just start to waver and do our own things and allow individuality to creep into the team. We need to stick together as a team at the end of the day and we didn’t do that.”

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UEFA Nations League: Schedule, how to watch, stream, TV, standings

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UEFA Nations League champions France will not go back-to-back, and Portugal is behind Spain in its bid to return to the throne room, highlighting the odds that a new Nations League winner will be crowned at the end of third edition of the tournament.

England, Wales, and Poland have also been eliminated from contention and are faced with the concept of relegation to UEFA Nations League B with just two matches left in the group stage.

France is also in early danger of not making it to back to League A, but can feel better by beating nearest combatant Austria on Thursday.

[ MORE: European Nations League hub — Scores, stats ]

Group A4 is the opposite sort of fight, Belgium and the Netherlands have both played very well and could see League A’s highest point total up for grabs in a meeting that could be for a semifinal place come Sunday.

UEFA Nations Leagues B, C, and D also have drama built into the final days as Ukraine and Scotland are jockeying for promotion in B1; Russia’s punishment has left B2 promotion open to Israel, Iceland, and Albania. B4 sees Erling Haaland, Martin Odegaard, and Norway fighting to join League A for the next cycle.

There’s also drama as Kazakhstan and Georgia currently lead their League C groups, with Latvia and Estonia in League D’s best spots.


UEFA Nations League live: How to watch, stream links

When: June 1, 2022 – March 26, 2024
TV rights: Fox Sports
Stream: Fox Sports Live, Fubo TV


UEFA Nations League A, Group 1

Croatia– 3-1-1, 10 pts
Denmark — 3-0-2, 9 pts
France — 1-2-2, 5 pts
Austria — 1-1-3, 4 pts

Next fixtures

Thursday
France 2-0 Austria
Croatia 2-1 Denmark

Sunday
Denmark vs France
Austria vs Croatia

UEFA Nations League A, Group 2

Spain — 2-2-0, 8 pts
Portugal — 2-1-1, 7 pts
Czech Republic — 1-1-2, 4 pts
Switzerland — 1-0-3, 3 pts

Next fixtures

Saturday
Czech Republic vs Portugal
Spain vs Switzerland

Wednesday
Portugal vs Spain
Switzerland vs Czech Republic

UEFA Nations League A, Group 3

Hungary — 3-1-1, 10 pts
Italy — 2-2-1, 8 pts
Germany — 1-3-1, 6 pts
England — 0-2-3, 2 pts [RELEGATED]

Next fixtures

Friday
Italy 1-0 England
Germany 0-1 Hungary

Tuesday
England vs Germany
Hungary vs Italy

UEFA Nations League A, Group 4

Netherlands — 4-1-0, 13 pts
Belgium — 3-1-1, 10 pts
Poland — 1-1-3, 4 pts
Wales — 0-1-4, 1 pt

Next fixtures

Thursday
Poland 0-2 Netherlands
Belgium 2-1 Wales

Sunday
Netherlands vs Belgium
Wales vs Poland