USMNT and Saudi Arabia duel to scoreless draw in preparation match
The U.S. Men’s National Team and fellow World Cup finalist Saudi Arabia played to a scoreless draw Tuesday evening in the team’s last preparation match ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Played in a neutral setting at Estadio Nueva Condomina in southeastern Spain, USMNT goalkeeper Matt Turner earned his 14th career clean sheet in his 20th international cap.
USA head coach Gregg Berhalter made four changes from the starting group that fell to Japan last week in Germany, inserting DeAndre Yedlin in the back line, Kellyn Acosta in midfield, and Ricardo Pepi and Christian Pulisic in the attack.
The match was fast paced from the start as Saudi Arabia tested Turner just seconds into the match on a shot from defender Sultan Al-Ghannam. The U.S. held possession for most of the first half, stringing together promising buildup plays despite being unable to find the back of the net.
Midfielder Weston McKennie had the first USA chance nine minutes in when he brought down a long pass from defender Walker Zimmerman, cut to his right and shot from the top of the box. His strike was on target but goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Yami was in position to make the save.
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Pulisic also had a few threatening moments while attacking down the left side, one of which he saw a first-time header off a free kick sail wide. Midfielder Tyler Adams also came close to opening the scoring when he pounced on a second ball and hit a low, driven shot from 28 yards out that went just wide to the left.
Saudi Arabia had perhaps the best chance of the half just past the half hour mark. Haitham Mohammed Asiri took a short pass into the box before he crossed from the endline to find Hatan Sultan Bahbri in the heart of the box, but his shot from close range was blocked by Yedlin and Zimmerman. The rebound fell to Nasser Essa Al-Dawsari, who mishit a shot as Turner was recovering which allowed midfielder Paul Arriola to clear the threat a few feet from the goal line. Arriola had entered minutes earlier for Gio Reyna, who came off in the 30th minute after experiencing muscle tightness.
The teams traded chances in the second half. In the 60th, Arriola fed second-half substitute Jesus Ferreira outside the penalty box. Ferreira flicked the ball up and hit a solid volley through two defenders, but Alyami reacted to his left to keep the game scoreless. Turner then made a big stop ten minutes later, denying Asiri’s powerful shot from 18 yards out.