U.S. World Cup worries grow, draw with Saudis in last tuneup of World Cup
SINGAPORE — It’s time to get serious.
The draw is here and the U.S. World Cup qualifying campaign has a lot to prove.
The players are back and for a good reason.
There are now two groups of four Americans in the draw — the final tuneup before a knockout round begins on Friday.
On Thursday, the Americans met in a friendly in Japan for two days. On Saturday, the U.S. took on Saudi Arabia for the first time — also at a friendly, on the pitch at Sanfrecce Hiroshima, with both teams sharing the same locker room.
The Americans returned to the pitch on Sunday with a 2-0 victory over Japan. They had their eyes on Saudi Arabia, which played in the second group of CONCACAF qualifying last month in the Netherlands. The United States beat Saudi Arabia 2-0 earlier this month in a CONCACAF U-20 tournament in Florida.
“It’s a bit of a confidence booster that, after beating Saudi Arabia, we’re going to the World Cup,” said defender Kyle Beckerman, who was expected to join the United States in the group stage. “The confidence is there and the belief is there. We’re just trying to get out there and prove that we belong, that we belong at the World Cup.”
The draw was held by FIFA executive committee chairman, VAR chief Alex Horwath, vice president and COO of the International Football Association Board, Michael Pezzolato, and FIFA technical director Richard Bailey.
It was the last tuneup before the knockout round starts next weekend.
“They’re looking to find out two things — how we’re performing and how we fit into the format,” Pezzolato said. “So they are looking for a few things, not just the best player on our pitch versus the best player on the other team on the pitch, what do we do defensively… there is a lot to look at in a World Cup.”
The USA has a lot to prove in its qualifying