The U.S. men’s national team’s first post-Gold Cup friendlies will see two games against first-ever opponents visit in September.
The USMNT will host Uzbekistan on September 9 at CityPark in St. Louis (5:30 p.m. Eastern, TNT, Telemundo), before taking on Oman three days later at Minnesota United’s Allianz Field (8:30 p.m., TNT).
“We are very intentional and committed to presenting different challenges to our team during the next three years as we continue to develop the program,” said head coach Gregg Berhalter in a press release announcing the games. “Uzbekistan and Oman are first-time opponents for us and both are preparing for the AFC Asian Cup, so we expect them to be good tests. We look forward to visiting two excellent soccer facilities and performing in front of the fantastic supporters in St. Louis and the Twin Cities.”
Berhalter will be making his return to the touchline for the USMNT in these games, with interim coach B.J. Callaghan carrying on with the squad that is currently participating in the Gold Cup.
Not the teams the USMNT planned on facing
Fox Sports reported on Wednesday that U.S. Soccer had tried to line up some blockbuster friendlies in this window. Argentina and Brazil were reportedly closing in on deals to be the opposition in September, but with CONMEBOL electing to use the full window for World Cup qualifying, the USMNT had to look elsewhere.
That resulted in looking towards Asia, where like CONCACAF the FIFA window wasn’t yet occupied by competitive matches. That search ended with two teams that are currently ranked 73rd (Oman) and 74th (Uzbekistan) by FIFA.
Neither side has ever qualified for the World Cup, but both have been close at times. Uzbekistan has made the knockout round in the last five AFC Asian Cup tournaments, while Oman broke through for the first time in the 2019 edition.
Both have qualified for the 2023 Asian Cup, which will be played in January 2024 to avoid the summer heat in host nation Qatar.
Source: Pro Soccer Wire