After a 2-0 loss to Japan, the United States gets a chance to bounce back against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday in their last tune-up friendly before November's World Cup. Christian Pulisic and Ricardo Pepi , and despite limited playing time for Pulisic at Chelsea, coach Gregg Berhalter wants, "Christian to be Christian" in a match that can give this team momentum. With how important he is to the national team, Pulisic can change the game by providing a dimension that was missing in the last match.
Japan's press caused the midfield problems and they'll need to work through that ahead of Saudia Arabia. While the Green Falcons are a different type of team, they can still cause the USMNT problems. The Americans are still dealing with depth concerns and so many injuries, and Berhalter will need to rotate from the last match. Based on performances, Joe Scally and Mark McKenzie could be players knocking on the door, while another change could be made for Luca de la Torre in midfield. While he needs minutes due to struggling for playing time at Celta Vigo, those minutes can't come for the national team if he's too rusty to make quick decisions and take players on after failing to impress against Japaan.
Here's our storylines, how you can watch the match and more:
How to watch and odds
- Date: Tuesday, Sep. 27 | Time: 2 p.m. ET
- Location: Estadio Enrique Roca de Murcia -- Murcia, Spain
- TV: FS1 | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
- Odds: Saudi Arabia +280; Draw +220; United States -110 (via Caesars Sportsbook)
Saudi Arabia: Making consecutive appearances at the World Cup for the first time since 2002 and 2006, Saudia Arabia are trending in the right direction, but they haven't advanced from the group stage since 1994. It won't get any easier this year being placed in Group C with Argentina, Mexico and Poland. This will be the seventh meeting between the United States and Saudi Arabia with the USMNT holding a 3-2-1 advantage. Saudi Arabia also topped their World Cup qualifying group that included Japan, so this is another match that shouldn't be taken lightly. Due to most of their players being in the domestic league, Saudi Arabia will also have six more friendlies between now and the World Cup, unlike the USMNT.
United States: Defender Reggie Cannon will miss the match due to a groin strain. After the team's showing against Japan, the need for a positive result has grown but external stress isn't lost on Berhalter.
"It is a young team and at this moment, anytime in the last camp, before the World Cup, there's stress involved and there are outside factors that affect performance," Berhalter said. "I think we should at least acknowledge that and say that the guys were tense in this game. and it's our job as coaches to put them at ease and help them perform, and that's what we're focused on."
Berhalter will need to make sure he selects a team that can cope with that pressure going into this match as the last thing that a young team needs is a bad result lingering for two months. While calling it a friendly a must-win may be raising the stakes too much, it is certainly critical to get a positive result in Spain for chemistry and momentum.
With Pulisic back in the fold, the United States will have a new dimension against Saudi Arabia to see the match out. Pick: United States 2, Saudi Arabia 1