The United States Men’s National Team showed that they once again can create and score goals, taking care of business with a 4-1 victory over Jamaica at Stadion Wiener Neustadt in Wiener Neustadt, Austria. The USMNT, who entered the match as Concacaf’s 2nd highest FIFA-ranked team, put on a fun display of soccer against a team that they will definitely see down the road during World Cup qualifying and possibly at the Gold Cup this summer.
USA: 1-Zack Steffen (capt.), 2-Sergiño Dest (5-Antonee Robinson 68’), 3-Aaron Long (15-Chris Richards 46’), 6-John Brooks, 7-Gio Reyna (26-Nicholas Gioacchini 68’), 8-Yunus Musah (12-Luca de la Torre 73’), 9-Josh Sargent (16-Jordan Siebatcheu 82’), 10-Christian Pulisic (11-Brenden Aaronson 46’), 17-Sebastian Lletget, 20-Reggie Cannon, 23-Kellyn Acosta
Unused Substitutes: 22-Ethan Horvath, 25-Chituru Odunze, 13-Tim Ream, 18-Christian Cappis, 19-Bryan Reynolds, 24-Erik Palmer-Brown
JAM: 1-Jeadine White; 3-Michael Hector, 8-Amari Bell, 9-Ricardo Morris (2-Chavany Willis 55’), 10-Kasey Palmer (12-Renaldo Wellington 86’), 11-Andre Gray (4-Jabari Hylton 86’), 15-Liam Moore, 17-Jamal Lowe (14-John Luca Levee 72’), 19-Adrian Mariappa (capt.), 20-Kevaughn Isaacs (6-Omar Holness 55’), 21-Ethan Pinnock (22-Curtis Tilt 64’)
Unused Substitutes: 23-Shaven Paul
After a kickoff that was close to 30 minutes past the scheduled time, the match got off to a physical start. Jamaica tried to push around the Americans, particularly when the Americans were on the attack. It also led to some gaffes in the back. In the 5th minute, Zack Steffen misplayed a ball in the back. Luckily, it bounced off his foot out of bounds for a corner kick instead of into the frame of the goal. Jamaica was not able to do anything with the 3 consecutive corners they earned from that mistake.
Still, the Americans were able to mostly neutralize the physical play of Jamaica. After the game, head coach Gregg Berhalter said that he challenged his team to embrace the physical nature of the game. “We showed that physicality is not a problem for us.”
The story of the first half was the flank play of Sergiño Dest. With him and Reggie Cannon operating more like wingbacks, Dest provided some sauce on the dribble to create open spaces. Still a lot of open options on the pass were missed early on by the Americans when the ball made it further up the field.
In the 14th minute, after a nice run by Kellyn Acosta, the ball made it to the feet of Sebastian Lletget. However, Lletget missed a chance to feed a streaking Dest to instead pass it to Christian Pulisic at a tougher angle. Pulisic, to his credit, was able to draw a corner with a tough shot from an angle very close to the endline.
The Jamaicans had their first chance in the 21st minute, when Andre Gray held up play on the attack to get passes going and eventually the ball got to Ricardo Morris, whose shot went wide. They also had a chance off a set piece in the 29th minute, when Reggie Cannon fouled Jamal Lowe on the edge of the penalty area. However, Kasey Palmer’s free kick was blocked by the wall and the ensuing shot was saved by Zack Steffen.
In the 34th minute, the USMNT finally broke through. After a cross field pass by Yunus Musah, Dest went on a dribbling streak with a couple of jukes down the left of the field. He then cut inside and unleashed a right-footed blast from 30 yards out that sailed into the right side of the net for an absolute golazo for the USMNT.
That goal gave the United States an extra jolt of energy before halftime, with the team flying to the ball over the field. Every 50/50 ball was won by them and their intensity was top notch. In the 38th minute, Pulisic was all alone down the left side. He cut inside to the box and sent a soft cross intended for a streaking Josh Sargent, but the ball was just millimeters too high and it sailed wide for a goal kick. The USMNT had a couple more chances, including a Christian Pulisic free kick that went high over the goal right as the referee blew his whistle for halftime.
The halftime subs were Brendan Aaronson, coming on for Pulisic, and Chris Richards, who replaced Aaron Long. Both subs got involved early on a set piece, where Richards was able to head it into traffic. Aaronson was able to get a shot off, but it was deflected weakly through traffic to the goalkeeper.
In the 52nd minute, an incredible run by Aaronson in space, feeding Gio Reyna with a terrific ball. Reyna’s first shot was saved, but he was able to get another off. That second attempt went just wide. However, just a minute later, another breakthrough for the United States. Josh Sargent was able to win the ball off a flicked header by Aaronson in the box before turning and finding Aaronson right on the edge of the 6-yard box. Aaronson slammed it home to make it 2-0.
“Red Bull Salzburg constantly teaches you how to read a defense and make those runs and get behind the back line,” Aaronson said in the post-match press conference. “It’s instinct that allowed me to find those spaces, not necessarily always for me but for someone else as well, like Josh [Sargent] or Antonee [Robinson].”
The USMNT kept pushing the Jamaican defense. In the 58th minute, Reyna was able to dribble right down the middle of the park, shifting to the left side before firing a shot that went wide of the net.
The 65th minute saw another great chance. After a run down the middle of the field by Kellyn Acosta, he sent a cross to Reyna on the right side. Reyna took a shot from the right side, and the ball skipped just wide of the left post. A minute later, there was another chance for the USMNT, but Sebastian Lletget’s header was right at Jeadine White.
In the 70th minute, a quick Jamaican counter attack off an American set piece led to their first goal, with Jamal Lowe beating Steffen with a fantastic chip to cut the American lead in half.
The USMNT stepped up the pressure after that, with chances by de la Torre and Gioacchini in the minutes after Jamaica’s goal. De la Torre was able to exhibit some energy in the attacking third to keep the Jamaicans on their toes. A Gioacchini cross right at the foot of the goal in the 76th minute was right there for Sargent to smash home, but Sargent couldn’t get a toe on the delicious cross.
Jordan Siebatcheu, who committed to the USMNT recently, made his debut in the 82nd minute, replacing Josh Sargent. Luca de la Torre came on for just his second cap for the USMNT, replacing another recent commit Yunus Musah.
In the 83rd minute, Sebastian Lletget scored off a Gioacchini centering pass, through an overlapping Aaronson. That made it 3-1 to the USMNT.
An 89th minute free kick from the Jamaicans somehow found its way on frame, with a quick save from Steffen for a corner kick. He again had to get dirty on the corner, but he was able to collect the quick header to stop the attack.
Just on the stroke of stoppage time, Luca de la Torre was able to dribble down into the box and send a pass across to a streaking Lletget, who fired it home for his second of the night and the final goal for the United States.
The Americans were able to get shots off all night on the Jamaican defense, but while they took 27 shots, only 7 were on frame. They also dominated possession, keeping the ball 69% of the time and forced 10 corners. The performance was one that should only increase the excitement level of American fans who think this young core has the potential to be something special.
The USMNT travels to Belfast to take on Northern Ireland on Sunday, but tonight was about showing Jamaica—and the rest of Concacaf—that while they didn’t play perfectly, they have the players to dominate the Octagon when they put it all together.