As the World Cup approaches, players’ chances of making their team’s roster are dwindling. With the USMNT taking on Japan in a friendly on Friday, our picks anticipate that those fringe players will take center stage.

Japan vs USA
Photo By – USA TODAY Sports

Gregg Berhalter’s team faces Japan in one of the USMNT’s final two friendlies before the 2022 World Cup begins on November 20.

Berhalter, who has been drawn in a World Cup group with Wales, England, and Iran, will use the games against Japan and Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to establish his team’s starting lineup.

The UNSMT are ranked 14th in the world, while the Blue Samurai are placed 24th. Japan faces a bleak prognosis in the World Cup in 2022, as they are grouped alongside Spain, Germany, and Costa Rica.

Check out my USA vs. Japan picks and predictions ahead of this friendly in Germany.

Japan vs USA odds

Over 2.5 (+115)TotalUnder 2.5 (-150)

Odds courtesy of OKbet on September 20, 2022.

OKbet Betting Picks and predictions for Japan vs the United States

Berhalter must make numerous difficult personnel selections before the team’s first World Cup encounter against Wales. Injury has kept six regulars out of the next friendlies: Zack Steffen, Antonee Robinson, Tim Weah, Yunus Musah, Chris Richards, and Cameron Carter-Vickers.

The last two names are especially worrying, since Richards and Carter-Vickers both provide assurance and consistency to Berhalter’s backline.

Gio Reyna has returned, giving the team a huge boost. With Reyna, Brenden Aaronson, Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams, and Weston McKennie available, the USMNT has an embarrassment of talent in midfield.

Berhalter will earn every cent of his compensation by resolving his most pressing personnel quandaries, such as who to start in defense and upfront.

Union Berlin’s Jordan Pefok, who was left off the 26-man roster, is preferred over Josh Sargent, Ricardo Pepi, and Jesus Ferreira. The three aforementioned strikers will do everything in their power to make a lasting impact before Qatar 2022.

With Carter-Vickers and Richards out, Aaron Long, Erik Palmer-Brown, and Mark McKenzie will try to persuade Berhalter that they not only belong on the World Cup roster, but should start alongside shoo-in Walker Zimmerman.

Finally, Sam Vines and Joe Scally have one more chance to complicate the gaffer’s decision-making about the team’s fullbacks. As with all friendly matches, expect Berhalter to explore and tinker in order to strike the ideal balance for the showpiece tournament in Qatar.

The USMNT has only lost one of their last eight matches, a 2-1 loss in World Cup qualification against Costa Rica. Three of the eight games, though, ended in a stalemate, with the USMNT having to settle for a disappointing 1-1 draw against El Salvador in their most recent match.

The other two stalemates were against Uruguay in a friendly and Mexico in a World Cup qualification, neither of which will give Berhalter any sleepless nights. The USMNT hasn’t played in Europe since May 30, 2021, when they were defeated 2-1 by the Swiss in Switzerland.

However, because Friday’s game is being played on neutral ground in Dusseldorf, Berhalter’s team will not face an overwhelmingly partisan audience.

Draw (+280 at OKbet) is my best bet.

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