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World Cup concerns mount for US after draw with Saudis in Qatar final tune-up | USA

The United States finished its World Cup warm-up matches in unimpressive fashion, playing a 0-0 draw against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday night in Murcia, Spain, which saw the frequently injured Gio Reyna exit in the 30s. minutes due to muscle tension. .

Christian Pulisic returned to the depleted US lineup after missing Friday’s 2-0 loss to Japan with an unspecified injury, among four changes for coach Gregg Berhalter.

Ricardo Pepi, inserted as a striker in a final audition for the 26-man World Cup squad, had 13 touches and no shots against the Saudis in 53rd place before Jesus Ferreira replaced him in the 59th minute.

The 14th-ranked Americans were a little more threatening than they were on Friday, taking two shots on goal after failing to get one against the Japanese. The two results bode ill for his return to the World Cup and will do little to quell criticism of Berhalter, who left Jordan Pefok, John Brooks and Tim Ream off this list.

After missing out on the 2018 tournament, the US has rebuilt with one of the youngest rosters in the world at 56 matches under Berhalter. The Americans open against Wales on Nov. 21, face England on Black Friday and play 22nd-ranked Iran on Nov. 29 in the toughest of eight qualifying groups.

The United States were without Tim Weah, Yunus Musah, Chris Richards, Antonee Robinson and Zack Steffen due to injuries, and Miles Robinson will miss the World Cup due to a torn Achilles tendon. Because FIFA has delayed the Cup to the middle of the European season to avoid Qatar’s summer heat, players have club matches until November 13 and more injuries are possible.

Christian Pulisic of the United States is challenged by Ali al-Bulaihi of Saudi Arabia during Tuesday’s friendly. Photographer: Jose Jordan/AFP/Getty Images

Berhalter plans to announce his 26-man roster on November 9.

Reyna, the 19-year-old son of former US captain Claudio Reyna, is a constant injury concern. His 2021-22 season was affected by leg ailments and Borussia Dortmund have limited his playing time this season to 247 minutes.

DeAndre Yedlin started at right back, Sergiño Dest moved down the left, Kellyn Acosta replaced Luca de la Torre in midfield and Pulisic took over from Brenden Aaronson.

Yedlin limped off in the 59th minute after a challenge from Saud Abdulhamid and was replaced by Joe Scally.

Pulisic and Weston McKennie played until the 75th, when Aaronson entered midfield and Malik Tillman took over on the flank.

The Nueva Condomina Stadium, with a capacity of around 31,000, which was nearly empty and teammates could be heard shouting instructions. A spectator ran onto the field during the first half and approached Dest before being stopped by security.

Wearing their new blue tie-dye uniforms, the USA tested at 24 seconds. Matt Turner dove to his left to stop a long range shot from Sultan Al-Ghannam. Turner made a good block on Haitham Asiri’s shot from close range in the 70th minute after second-half substitute Mark McKenzie was stripped of the ball.

Saudi Arabia is in a World Cup group with No. 3 Argentina, No. 26 Poland and No. 12 Mexico.

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