Japan vs USMNT International Friendly Preview, Predictions, Betting Picks: Tough To Best Samurai Blue

Brenden AaronsonAs those heading to the World Cup in November start to prepare, Japan take on Team USA on neutral ground in an International Friendly on Friday (8.25am ET). The two will clash at Merkur Spiel-Arena in Dusseldorf, Germany, with both aiming to extend their unbeaten runs.

When the Japanese were last in action back in late July, they made light work of beating Asian rivals South Korea, keeping a clean sheet, and scoring three goals in the process. That performance came off the back of a tie against the Chinese and a 6-0 thrashing of Hong Kong. Hardly the most testing opposition, but the fact that Hajime Moriyasu’s men are now unbeaten in three, having scored nine and conceded none suggests that they’re moving in the right direction ahead of their upcoming appearance in Qatar.

For USMNT, 2022 has been a bit up and down, but the positive is that they’ll arrive in Dusseldorf unbeaten in four. Then again, they’ve only won two of those four, tying with El Salvador last time out, a result that certainly won’t have pleased coach Berhalter, who watched on as his team scraped a point in the CONCACAF Nations League thanks to a 92nd minute equalizer from Jordan Morris. It is not exactly what you want when playing the nation ranked 74th in the world.

Japanese can cut it against strong teams

Perhaps not a country as feared as many of the big European or South American soccer nations, but make no mistake about it, the Japanese won’t be in Qatar to make up the numbers, and USA should take them very seriously on Friday. Sure, their recent opponents have lacked real pedigree, but that doesn’t mean that Moriyasu’s side lacks recent experience against the big boys.

Back in June, they faced a strong Brazilian team, and although they lost the game, they more than made their presence felt, losing by just a single goal, making life tough for a team containing some of the world’s hottest talent. The team nicknamed Samurai Blue held out until the 77th minute, when Neymar made the different from the spot. Before their valiant efforts against the Samba Boys, the Japanese thrashed Paraguay 4-1.

Floundering on foreign shores

The U.S. have a reasonably pleasing recent record, losing none of their last four, but if we look exclusively at their recent road efforts, then it becomes harder to be optimistic about their chances here. Not only did they fail to beat El Salvador when last in action away, but Berhalter’s men have now gone six away games without tasting victory, three of which they have lost.

Perhaps the most disappointing thing about the United States’ recent traveling efforts is their lack of goals. The Stars and Stripes have scored in just two out of six on the road, scoring a measly total of two goals during that time. That is a big worry, especially when you consider that they’ve misfired against teams such as Panama, Canada and Costa Rica, all of whom are at least ten places below Japan in the FIFA World Rankings.

What do the squads look like?

Having impressed since entering the Premier League this season, Leeds United pair Brenden Aaronson and Tyler Adams are in the USMNT squad. Berhalter has also called up Norwich’s Josh Sargent and Crystal Palace’s Chris Richards. Exciting youngsters Yunus Musah and Luca de la Torre, both of whom currently ply their trade in the Spanish top flight are in too.

For the Japanese, the Celtic trio of Kyogo Furuhashi, Daizen Maida and Reo Hatate are all included in the squad and expected to feature prominently. Real Sociedad’s Takefusa Kubo and Eintracht Frankfurt’s Daicha Kamada are also big players, while we shouldn’t be surprised if the tricky Ritsu Doan, who plies his trade for Freiburg in the German Bundesliga, has his say.

Bet on Samurai Blue

There’s plenty to like about the way this Japanese side has progressed steadily over the last year or so, while the US remain a work in progress, especially away from home, where they find it very difficult to both score goals and get results.

Against Samurai Blue, the Stars and Stripes could have real problems getting the ball in the net, much like Brazil did, and it would be little surprise if they were made to pay the price for their lack of traveling offensive power. After all, both Costa Rica and Canada have taken advantage in recent times, while the Japanese come into this fixture off the back of a confidence-boosting win against a South Korea side that is far from easy to get the better of.

Goals to stay away

If the Japan win doesn’t tickle your fancy, or you want something extra, take ‘Under 2.5 Goals’. One thing that’s been almost guaranteed when the US have gone away from home in recent times is a game that’s reasonably low-key. Not only have they scored very few goals, but they’ve kept it respectable at the other end too. Each of their last six traveling games have seen less than three goals go in. Combine this with the fact that the Japanese have kept three clean sheets on the bounce and a low-scoring game seems likely.

So these are our Japan vs USMNT predictions and betting picks for this International Friendly matchup preview:

  • Japan to win on the moneyline @ best odds of +150 with Bovada.
  • Under 2.5 goals @ -145 with Bovada.