World Cup state of play: Dismal form, injuries and lack of striker impairing USMNT

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The US men’s national team’s final two matches before the World Cup — a 2-0 loss to Japan in Dusseldorf, Germany, last Friday and a scoreless draw against Saudi Arabia in Murcia, Spain, four days later — raised some serious concerns.

What went wrong in the buildup? What problems does head coach Gregg Berhalter face?

Here, Paul Tenorio and Sam Stejskal answer the big questions.

What is the team’s form like and how have they performed during this break?

This was perhaps the most disheartening international window for the US since the one in October 2019 when they suffered a shock defeat on the road to Canada in the CONCACAF Nations League.

That loss served as a turning point for this national team — a reminder that their intensity and energy are still critical to their success. This latest window reinforced that notion.

There are still some very big weaknesses in this young team. The two big areas of concern — center-back and forward — flared up in the defeat to Japan and draw with Saudi Arabia. Just as concerning, though, was the midfield’s inability to play through the opposition. The US certainly felt the absence of 19-year-old Yunus Musah and they’ll hope his return in November will help settle the midfield.

Which players are in or out of form? Are there anything that the fans/the manager will be worried about?

Brenden Aaronson and Tyler Adams are starting every week for Leeds United, Weston McKennie is getting healthy minutes with Juventus and Walker Zimmerman is having another fine season for Nashville.

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