Gregg Berhalter (Omar Vega/Getty Images)

Head coach Gregg Berhalter was the
focus of intense criticism as the United States men’s national team
suffered a 2-0 loss to Japan on Friday in one of its final warm-up
matches ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Daichi Kamada and Kaoru Mitoma scored for the Japanese side, as the USMNT struggled mightily to generate any
consistent attacking pressure inside Merkur Spiel-Arena in
Düsseldorf, Germany.

The United States’ use of Aaron Long and Walker
Zimmerman as the center-back tandem in the first half failed to pay
dividends, as it couldn’t to build out of the back against a high
press, and Japan continued to control the pace of play throughout a
majority of the second 45 minutes.

Here’s a look at some reaction to the
performance from social media:

Billhausen @MrBill11

The Berhalter of it all is building. They should have fired him a dozen times before this point. Going to send a really good team to Qatar only to watch it waste away in this horrid system. Unacceptable on all levels.

herculez gomez @herculezg

Neither Long nor Zimmerman are asked to play out of the back week in and week out at their clubs.

Not like Berhalter asks of them.

The backline struggling to deal with Japan’s pressure.

Better teams will punish you for it.

Graham Ruthven @grahamruthven

This is the sort of soccer Berhalter always wanted the US to play. Quick, proactive, good on the ball… wait, Japan are in blue?!

Markel Santi @_Susaeta

I’m grateful for what Berhalter’s done in recruiting and building this team, but my god I’ll be glad when we don’t have to watch his tactics anymore.

It’s so bad.

Jeff Rueter @jeffrueter

For better or worse, #USMNT’s successful qualification largely came down to Gregg Berhalter’s halftime adjustments each match. Today, the adjustment hasn’t let to many chances on frame.

Desperately need to start their games in a better way by the time November arrives.

Matty Jollie @MattyJollie

Part of the post game conversation needs to be how Berhalter just simply got outclassed tactically. #USMNT

Nancy Armour @nrarmour

I get USMNT missing key pieces in Musah, Weah and Pulisic. But isn’t that the point of testing out all of the players Berhalter did the last few years? To be able to plug and play?

Martijn Edelman @MartyEdelman14

Hopefully this result serves as a wake-up call for the #USMNT. Shocking performance for some key players and lot of questions for Berhalter too – including how he’s set the team up!

Jon Soltz @jonsoltz

Either Gregg Berhalter needs to call in the best players (not his players) or he needs to resign or be fired before the World Cup. #USMNT #berhalterout

Jordan @sports_by_stats

Berhalter has been in charge of this same squad for years. His starting XI hasn’t changed much.

-we still can’t break through a midblock
-we still get burned in transition
-we still operate way too quickly in possession and settle for bad chances

Post-WC, it’s time for a change

Tyler @WhiskeyTy

Gregg Berhalter isn’t gonna change, guys. But the guy who is the USMNT manager will as soon as this WC is over.

Looking Beyond @LookingBeyond2

Berhalter just got outcoached and these players just got humbled. Defense is gonna be a problem at the WC, we struggled to create anything, we couldn’t get our forwards service. This is not just on Berhalter, the players are to blame too. IDK what we need to do, just not ready

The squad fielded by Berhalter on Friday wasn’t
the one that’ll likely take the pitch when the USMNT opens the World Cup in November, including star Christian Pulisic
being a late scratch from the matchday squad with an injury picked up in

That said, it was still an uninspired
performance that raises further questions about whether the Americans
are trending in a positive direction with just two months until

It also brings the continued
international absence of central defender John Brooks, who recently
made his debut for Portuguese club Benfica, back into the spotlight
as the U.S. works unsuccessfully to find the anchors for its back line.

Berhalter and Co. will get another
chance to showcase some semblance of progress Tuesday when they face Saudi Arabia in a friendly at Estadio Nueva Condomina in
Murcia, Spain.

Another lackluster outing in the last
preparation match before the World Cup would raise serious doubts about the team’s outlook as players return to their clubs next week.

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