Japan beats USMNT U23 2-0 in final friendly before 2024 Olympics

The U.S. struggled to create in possession and spent most of the game defending.

NBC Universal, Inc.

The U.S. men's national team will be headed to the Paris Olympics on a loss.

The U23 team headed to France played Japan's U23 team in a send-off friendly on Tuesday, losing 2-0 after a rather lackluster display.

Japan opened the scoring within minutes.

After drawing a handball on defender Bryan Reynolds, Shota Fujio walked up the spot and converted the penalty past Patrick Schulte in the sixth minute.

Japan dominated possession throughout the game and looked the sharper team. Japan's agility and sharpness easily stood out when watching the players move the ball and find the open man, forcing the USMNT to be on the back foot for most of the contest.

The USMNT under head coach Marko Mitrovic tried building out from the back with three-defender setups that involved captain and defensive midfielder Tanner Tessman dropping deep to pick up the ball, but the team lacked someone who could play through Japan's defensive lines.

Most of the passes were forced out wide to the fullbacks and when passes to wingers looked promising, Japan's defenders often read it early and shut it down.

The U.S. created most of its best chances in transition, but Japanese goalkeeper Leo Kokubo did exceptionally to come out early and prevent multiple potential shots in each half.

Eventually, Japan pushed the lead to 2-0 in the 70th minute when Mao Hosoya tapped home after Schulte couldn't handle the ball properly on a save attempt.

The U.S. may not have had some key players, especially in midfield, like Gianluca Busio (injury) and Aidan Morris (potential transfer), but these types of performances won't cut it in Paris.

France, New Zealand and Guinea are the three group-stage opponents for the U.S., so there's plenty of work to do in terms of creating chances and limiting silly mistakes.

Walker Zimmerman, the main veteran on the U23 team due to the overage exception, was lucky not to be sent off in the second half on a last-man tackle after Taylor Booth's errant pass. He only received a yellow card.

The U.S. will open group play versus France on Wednesday, July 24, a few days before the Opening Ceremony.

Contact Us