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Ferreira hat-trick paces USMNT rout of Grenada in Nations League opener

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The goals were difficult for Jesus Ferreira and the U.S. men’s national team to find through the first 42 minutes of Friday’s Concacaf Nations League opener against Grenada, but once they finally broke through, the Americans poured it on.

Ferreira scored three goals in a span of 13 match minutes and added a fourth for good measure later in the second half to pace the USMNT to a 5-0 romp over Grenada at Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas.

The night started disappointingly for the home side as Gregg Berhalter’s juggled lineup played like a team that hadn’t had much game time together as a group. Christian Pulisic and Tyler Adams were left off the squad while regular starters such as Yunus Musah, Tim Weah and Walker Zimmerman began the night on the bench, presenting opportunities for several fringe players hoping to boost their World Cup stock.

Disjointed passing and a general lack of creativity in the first half made it difficult to break down a Grenada side that had plenty of energy early on.

That energy didn’t last though, and the breakthrough came just before halftime, when Ferreira pounced on a deflected Paul Arriola pass and pivoted to his left for a clever finish for the opening goal.

Ferreira missed a golden chance early in the second half and appeared frustrated, but frustration turned into joy in the 54th minute when Arriola delivered a perfect pass to spring Ferreira behind the Grenada defense. The FC Dallas striker converted a calm finish to give the Americans a two-goal cushion and set off celebrations in Austin.

Ferreira completed his hat-trick just two minutes later with the best of his three goals, slotting home a shot from 16 yards out off a short corner kick delivered by Kellyn Acosta which found him unmarked in the penalty area.

Arriola made it 4-0 in the 62nd minute when he raced onto a perfectly-weighted pass from Luca De La Torre and converted from close range.

Ferreira made it 5-0 in the 78th minute when he tapped home a perfect layoff pass from Brenden Aaronson.

The Americans will now look to close out their four-match run with a win in El Salvador against the same team that held them to a 0-0 draw in San Salvador in World Cup qualifying last September. A win on Tuesday in El Salvador would move the Americans into first place in their Nations League group heading into the conclusion of the group stage, which will be played in 2023.


What did you think of the match? Who impressed you the most? Who endured a disappointing night? Who are you hoping to see start against El Salvador?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. Can’t judge anything about this game, but if you played bad, you don’t belong on the squad?! I’m confused. Are we judging how well players play, or not? Morris makes the back heel flick, a different narrative starts. Why do we expect so much out of MLS players, more than we do players in Top 5 leagues? One thing I can agree. This is ‘96- ‘03 birth years. Generation : Team Versatility! (w/ a Capital V). Where I disagree. You can’t play everyone everywhere just because they have the ability to play the position. No fluidity because there’s no position stability! Best position 1st, let the player master that position for the country, then gradually move them as need be. 2-3 utility players per WC winning country. Germany had only 1 -Philip Lahm, not 6, or 7. Acosta, Arriola, Morris, Roldan are ‘jack of all trades!’ type players. Acosta is an 8 but isn’t going to Qatar as one. His chance is as a backup 6. Morris isn’t going to Qatar as a winger. With the talent we have. No chance. Only chance, if any, is as a 9. Let the ‘Bull in a China shop!’ compete at his best position. If not, why call him up? Example- Scally is better RB than LB, right? (Yes), then, I think the simplest thing to do is to allow him to compete at his best position, so he has a better chance to seize the opportunity. It’s not about who I like, as it is about the 4-3-3 functioning properly. You wear the US jersey, I’ll cheer when you score and hope we win. I do have to say we are seeing too much 1- dimensional play, most matches. Doesn’t matter who it is, that’s playing for us. Doesn’t even matter where they play, Champions League or not, we see this against every opponent. Out of the home games, which was the better watch? 3-0 v Morocco, 0-0 v Uruguay, or 5-0 v Grenada?

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    • It’s really not confusing, if you looked good against a poor squad it doesn’t say much. If you looked bad against a bad team it’s not a good sign. Especially if your direct competition for the 5th wing spot looked significantly better throughout and he didn’t have a great game either. We aren’t talking Sebastian Lleget played yourself out but Morris is going to need to get really hot for Sounders to get back on the plus side. Not impossible but not easy. It wasn’t so much his missed chance it was just being nonexistent for much of his time. JmoSmooth has always been at his best when he can get the ball out in front of him and run onto it and drive by people. He hasn’t shown the ability to do that since returning from knee surgery number 2.
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      As far as being a natural #9 it’s just not accurate, at least not in the current way the game is played. He is not good at hold up play, he’s not good at making runs that open space, he’s not good at finding space in the box, he’s average in the air. The reason he was a 9 as a youth was because he was faster than other kids and you could hit it deep and he’d beat them to it. As a pro that only gets you so far. That’s why Seattle moved him to a wing and got RuiDiaz. It’s why they brought in Wil Bruin. If your club rates Wil Bruin over you, you can’t play that spot for the NT. If you can play the ball into Jordan wide with space he’s hard to deal with. He’s not going to find that space against CBs as a 9. He’s done the work and made his left sufficient, so that he can be effective as a winger but if he can’t get his speed back he can’t play at the WC. It’s not really a question of desire or work ethic it’s if his body is up to it. That’s just my opinion, maybe a Seattle fans can can point out why Smetzer has been wrong to play him as a wing all this time.

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  2. Remember, this is a team we should have beaten 5-0, or worse. I wouldn’t go overboard on anointing players for the final WC roster on the basis of this game. However, if someone doesn’t do well against a team like Grenada, they should be left at home and somebody else brought in for consideration if we have some more games pre-WC.

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    • I agree with that. I would say Morris, Cannon, Arriolla, Tillman, and Roldan saw their stock drop and maybe Ferriera even though he scored 4 becauase he missed a lot of chances again in the first half. In some ways, maybe not a great game to play in because you probably could only realistically drop your stock. Maybe LDT raised his stock and I thought Acosta was good.

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    • If guys you already liked did well you probably see this as a lock. If you came in not rating Ferreira or Long you probably still don’t. I’d say Pulisic, Weah, Reyna, Wes, Adams, Aaronson, Zim, Dest, ARob, Musah, and Turner are locks if healthy. Beyond that poor club form or poor move the next four months can still knock you out. I think Gregg and staff have a pretty good idea of what their 23-26 will be but the margins between players 12-40 are pretty small and form from anyone of them could move the bar. We’ve seen hot streaks from Uly, Dike, Konrad, and Hoppe before if one gets hot they could force their way into contention. Paredes has a chance if he can earn consistent playing time because LB is so shallow. If your in those spots 25-40 there is no margin for error.

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  3. CCV is better than Long by far. Just a more complete, solid, and more accomplished defender. There is a reason why Celtic signed him and he was named on top 11 Scottish Premiership team I believe. I really hope CCV gets more chances because we will need defenders with top Euro experience in the WC

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    • Finally saw recovery speed from Long last night, because of that he is likely on the world cup roster battling with Richards to start. CCV looked very solid and I think played his way on the roster as Zimmermans backup.

      Agree that LDLT was the best player last night, he has something special with the ball at his feet. He is probably Musahs backup but I think he will see some game time at the WC.

      Ferreira is not the finished product but he does look like our best striker at the moment. Sounds like Wright will get his chance in ES.

      I think it’s an unnecessary risk to take our Euro based starters on the trip to ES, give these guys a break and send them home, they have been playing nonstop for a year and will barely have a month off as it is.

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    • CCV, IMHO, made the team and will leave camp as at WORST our #3 CB and he’s pushing for #2, especially against teams without a ton of speed…you know, like Wales or Iran.

      We can actually start filling in the blanks on the likely 26-man roster now, I think:

      KEEPER: (3) Turner’s #1, Sean Johnson made the plane versus Uruguay. Horvath and Steffen likely battle it out for that last spot.

      CB: (5) Zimmerman, CCV, Long. Fourth spot is without a doubt Chris Richards if healthy. If we bring a fifth CB it could still be (drum roll) John Brooks because EPB didn’t look nearly ready against Uruguay and Gregg is stubborn but ultimately pragmatic, but it also could be Reggie Cannon providing cover at RB and CB, which I think is probably more likely.

      OB: (4) Jedi, Dest, Yedlin look like locks for the plane. Still haven’t found a backup at LB. Neither Bello nor Scally look ready so Sam Vines might play his way into the picture by default since no one else has emerged.

      CM: (7) McKennie, Musah, Adams, Acosta, Luca look like locks. Dunno if it’ll be Aaronson or Gio listed as a CM but the other guy slots in as a winger. One spot left. Roldan? Busio? Or maybe Gregg did do a deal with Tillman?

      WINGERS: (4) Pulisic, Weah. Regrettably Arriola since we just plain don’t have better at the moment. One of either Aaronson or Gio, with the other moved inside to CM.

      CF: (3) I’d guess we take 3. Ferreira’s on the plane. Next two are going to be whoever makes a case between now and then: could be Haji Wright, Josh Sargent, Pepi, or Dike, whoever gets hot.

      Basically the only open spots left now are our backup left back, and probably TWO striker spots open, and Roldan/Busio/Tillman are probably competing for that seventh CM spot. Looked at that way, I’d probably take Tillman for the future but Gregg probably takes Roldan.

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  4. The two young players making their US debuts in this break, Scally and Tillman, look not quite ready to break into the US roster this fall. They are both young and lack experience, and will improve with time. Maybe Scally may have a better chance due to versatility, but not optimistic.

    Long and CCV in the 1st half were a solid pairing at CBs. Am thinking CCV may inch ahead of EPB in the pecking order.

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  5. Barring a rash of injuries, Jordan Morris is off future rosters. Dreadful, almost completely invisible showing. Shame because he once showed such potential but he’s not even remotely NT material anymore. Honestly I wonder if the guy I was watching last night will even be starting for Seattle for much longer. We were basically playing with 10 on the field. Hurts to watch a former find like Morris get erased by injuries but his legs look gone.

    Tillman’s incredible talent is obvious, but he’s got a WAYS to go. If he was guaranteed a spot on the 2022 roster Gregg may have made a mistake. He needs a loan move probably to the Eredivisie or some such because he has zero chance of seeing real minutes with Bayern 1.

    Luca was the best player on the field last night. Strangely I really thought one guy who’s improved a lot since the start of qualifying is Kellyn Acosta. He’s looking less…I dunno, “MLS”. His passing’s better, his technique is smoother and better, his first touch to space more incisive. He looks like a guy ready for Europe now and you can see the Euro guys’ influence is really rubbing off on him.

    Reggie Cannon struggled a bit, to me, seemed frustrated with himself all night.

    Another invisible showing from McKennie, does not look remotely 100%.. I wouldn’t start him against ES. Wanna see more Aaronson or Luca at the 10.

    Zimmerman along with CCV seemed almost unfair to Grenada. They just snuffed out every foray and bullied the Grenadans off every ball. I know that may not be our pairing due to speed concerns but those are two very advanced, VERY physical CB’s that read the game extraordinarily well and right now by far and away look our best two in the pool.

    Maybe the least-impressive four-goal performance I’ve ever seen. I mean, four goals is four goals and I’m glad a 9 is scoring, but…Grenada. And there were still chances Ferreira failed to take. Hopefully stuff will be easier for him now but I’m still mindful of watching Wondo putting sitters in against Belize. Yay. Does it really matter?

    Basically: Grenada. Hard to take much more than that out of this beyond: if a guy is struggling at this level, we likely need to move on past him for the World Cup unless it’s a proven guy like McKennie…who likely just needs a break.

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    • Q – agree on almost all. I thought Acosta was best player for US. I think most of his sample was playing with B team so it was hard to excel amd maybe he was a little under appreciated. When he plays with A team, to me he does not look out of place. Versatility will be importamt for fringe players. LDT has shown he can play 6 and 8 as I think Acosta can as well. I think Acosta is lock to go barring injury and LDT if he finds a team and is playing. If he sits the bench with his new team, don’t think he will be in Qatar.

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      • Agree. Similarly I think it’s Reggie Cannon as opposed to EPB or John Brooks – who I still think has at least an outside chance at the plane despite the fact that Gregg is obviously not a fan – just because he’s been there and can cover CB as well as RB. That might help Scally too but he had a miserable outing against Uruguay. we have plenty of cover at RB anyhow, and Scally did not look up to the level yet though I definitely think he gets there if he’s this good by age 19. Just maybe not by 2022. He’s all but out of time.

    • Morris has been pretty bad for the Sounders, too. In their last game he missed badly on 2 easy chances and finally scored on a 3rd (it was almost a tap in). I don’t know if it is that he still hasn’t completely recovered from his injury, still isn’t match fit, or is permanently damaged from his injury, but currently he is not anywhere near the player he used to be. While players with bad injuries often need 10 to 12 months, I have seen in the past where it is another 6 months before they get back to their old selfs. Maybe Morris will get back to where he was, but he is nowhere near that yet.

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  6. I don’t think anyone raised their stock today and I don’t think it would have even really been possible given the opponent. I think Morris certainly hurt himself. LDT probably solidified himself barring a poor start this fall. Tillman has a ways to go, he needs regular 1st division minutes.

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    • He played a 4-2-3-1 but played McKennie at the 10. McKennie ia not a 10 and he looked pretty rusty. I thought Acosta played well. I know Jesus scored 4, but he had a lot of misses again … I dont think Ariolla looks when he crosses the ball.

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      • I don’t really think it was a 4-2-3-1 but kind of hard to tell because we had so much of the ball. Wes stayed pretty much to his typical left 8 spot and Luca filled in on the right. Wes did play as a 10 some for Juventus this season it’s not absurd.
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        The double pivot is there if teams pressure Adams because distribution is not his strength. I also think there’s a little “that’s how we can get Reyna in the middle” in it.

  7. I get the opposition but good to see Ferreira putting the ball in the ol onion bag tonight. Takeaways: good to see the USMNT somewhat second string dominate the game. Morris may have played himself off this team. Luca De La Torre may be better than Musah with advancing the ball on the dribble. Really interested to see where Luca ends up at club level. I could see him staying in Holland with a bigger team. Or maybe another American finds himself on Leeds radar. Anyways happy with the performance looks likely we see Pulisic, Weah, and Adams against El Salvador. Should De La Torre get the start against El Salvador? McKennie may be a sub against El Salvador. Likely starting 11:

    Pulisic——ferreira—-Weah
    ———-musah——-Aaronson—-
    ———————Adams—————
    Jedi——-Long——Z-Man—Yedlin
    ————————Turner—————

    Hope to see the same dominance and Ferreira bang in a few more.

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    • Strong and Twellman kept saying Berhalter said Wright and Horvath will start against ES.
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      I think the difference is LDT gets the ball out of his feet in the final 3rd quicker. I think Musah is better at getting the ball to the final 3rd quicker. I hope Musah gets a chance to play CM for Valencia this season.

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  8. At least they woke up in the second half. It was almost good enough to erase the bad taste left by the horrible first half.

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