The United States was looking to make improvements from their previous game, but lackluster play again saw them play out a scoreless draw with Saudi Arabia at a nearly empty Estadio Nueva Condomina in Murcia, Spain, on Tuesday night.
The U.S. came in for heavy criticism following their 2-0 defeat to Japan last Friday, leaving questions as to how they would respond coming into their final World Cup tune-up game. They would show glimpses of improvement, but they could not stamp their authority against a Saudi side that was literally their B team.
Head coach Gregg Berhalter’s 4-3-3 formation saw several changes from their last game. DeAndre Yedlin got the start at right-back, while Sergino Dest switched over to the left. In the midfield, Kellyn Acosta replaced Luca de la Torre as he teamed up with Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie. Up top, Christian Pulisic returned following a minor injury, and Ricardo Pepi got the nod at center-forward with Gio Reyna playing on the right.
The Americans were already on the defensive just seconds into the start of the game when Saudi Arabia’s Sultan Al-Ghannam put a shot on target, but Matt Turner was able to parry it away. McKennie then got the team’s first shot in the ninth minute with a deep run into the final third, forcing Mohammed Al Yammi to make a save.
Just like Japan, Saudi Arabia used a high press to try and unsettle the U.S., but unlike last Friday’s game, the team appeared to be more organized in trying to break through.
Chances were few in the first half, but there was cause for concern at the half-hour mark when Reyna was subbed out for Paul Arriola. Reports from the U.S. camp said it was “precautionary” due to muscle tightness.
The second half was much of the same with very few threatening chances on the Saudi goal. Even with Berhalter utilizing the six substitutions, no one really stood out to make an impact that would turn the game around.
Jesus Ferreira did have the best chance of the half for the U.S. in the 61st minute when Arriola played the ball to his FC Dallas teammate in the 12-yard box to fire the ball on target, but it went directly into the hands of Al Yammi.
In the end, a disappointing draw and more questions as to whether Berhalter will have this team ready when they play their first World Cup group game against Wales on Nov. 21.