International Friendly Soccer – USMNT vs Uzbekistan Preview, Betting Picks, Predictions: Potential Banana Skin

Jesus FerreiraFollowing the disappointment of the women’s team at the World Cup, the US men’s soccer team will be back in action on Saturday (5.30pm ET). This time, Greg Berhalter’s men are in friendly action against Uzbekistan at CityPark in St. Louis.

This will be the first time that the US men’s team has got down to business since their disappointing Gold Cup exit at the semi-final stage. On that occasion, Berhalter’s squad found the task at hand too hot to handle as they crashed out against Panama, losing on penalties following a 1-1 tie at the end of extra-time. Ahead of their next competitive assignment, the USA will be looking to rebuild their confidence.

For Saturday’s opposition, it was also a case of disappointment last time out, as they lost by a goal to nil against Iran in the final of Asia’s CAFA Nations Cup, though the fact that they reached the final was pleasing, while in general, the Uzbeki’s have carried themselves respectably on the field in recent times. That was their first defeat in eight games.

Offensive woes for the USMNT

Against teams with any quality, Saturday’s hosts have struggled slightly in recent times. Sure, they did notch six against both Trinidad & Tobago and Saint Kitts and Nevis, with the likes of Jesus Ferreira, Caden Cowell and Djorde Mihailovic enjoying themselves, not that long ago, but that’s nothing to write home about. Against even half-competitive opposition, such players have struggled to have the same impact, which is worrying.

Against Panama last time out, Berhalter’s men failed to score until the 15th minute of extra time, while they mustered just one goal against Canada in regulation time prior to that too.

If we look back to home games before the Gold Cup, then it’s fair to say that they disappointed offensively on several occasions, scoring only once against El Salvador and failing to score against Colombia.

Visitors Uzbekistan shouldn’t be underestimated

We don’t know a great deal about the Uzbeki’s, who have former Yugoslavia international and Sampdoria player Srečko Katanec as their head coach, but they’ve delivered some more respectable results in recent times. They recently reached the CAFA Nations Cup Final, as touched on in this preview above, and they were far from outclassed in that game against a side that featured at the 2022 World Cup.

Moreover, in recent times, they have tussled with some relatively useful nations, tying with Venezuela and Russia, conceding just one goal in the process. Such results don’t exactly point towards them taking a severe beating here, nor does the fact that they haven’t conceded more than a single goal in eight games. They have kept five clean sheets during that time too.

Don’t assume this will be easy for the U.S.

Now you might look at this fixture and think that the US are almost guaranteed to come out on top, while you’d probably expect them to win by a considerable margin too. The early lines with sports gambling outlets echo that sentiment as the home win is generally available at odds of -400. After all, what sort of soccer team does Uzbekistan have, right? Well, the answer is one that probably isn’t as bad as some people may assume. In fact, it is probably nowhere near as bad.

Saturday’s visitors in St. Louis are by no means soccer titans, but they will travel to the US having held their form well in recent times, which is quite pleasing given that they’ve faced some fairly decent opposition. They’ve conceded few goals in recent months, while they’ve gone toe-to-toe with some half-decent nations such as Russia, Venezuela and Iran, holding their own in the process.

Against the Iranians in the CAFA Nations Cup, they weren’t exactly outclassed, losing by the narrowest of margins. That effort is quite relevant ahead of this game. Why? Well, the US faced Iran less than a year ago in Qatar and they too were involved in a tight game, so perhaps there is not as much between this pair as the early odds suggest.

To be honest, we’re talking about a visiting team that likes to make life tough for opponents, one that has kept things quite tight against the likes of Iran, Russia, Venezuela and Costa Rica, who as recently as 2022 beat the US, in the last year. So this preview and its predictions are betting on them to frustrate here and at the very least, avoid a heavy defeat.

Goals to stay away from CityPark

As well as betting on the Uzbeki’s to avoid a defeat by two or more goals, ‘Under 2.5 Goals’ stands out as a viable option.

It is very likely that the visitors will dig in and look to keep things tight here, as they attempted to do against Iran and as they did against Venezuela and Russia. Such an approach could frustrate the hosts and ensure that a glut of goals is avoided. After all, USMNT has struggled to penetrate deep-lying, defensively disciplined sides. We saw them fail to score inside regulation time against Panama last time out, while in the group stages of that competition, they drew 1-1 against Jamaica. Prior to that tournament, they scored just once against both Mexico and El Salvador, while each of those games contained less than three goals.

Interestingly, in each of their last two games against teams currently ranked inside FIFA’s top 40, as the United States men’s team is, the Uzbeki’s have conceded just one goal, while each of those two games contained less than three goals too.

  • Uzbekistan +1.5 on the spread @ -107 with BetOnline.
  • Under 2.5 goals @ +105 with Bovada.