The U.S. men’s national team reclaimed the top spot in Group D of the Concacaf Nations League on Friday after breezing past Grenada at Kirani James National Stadium.
Ricardo Pepi and Weston McKennie both registered braces for Anthony Hudson’s squad while Brenden Aaronson, Alex Zendejas, and Christian Pulisic also celebrated goals in a 7-1 romp. Auston Trusty and Taylor Booth both made their senior international debuts as the Americans clinched a spot in this summer’s Concacaf Gold Cup.
Pepi needed only four minutes to propel the USMNT in front of the Spice Boys, powering a header off of Pulisic’s cross into the bottom corner. It was Pepi’s first international goal since October 2021 and his fourth overall this year for club and country.
Matt Turner denied Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong and Regan Charles-Cook from tying the match before Brenden Aaronson extended the USMNT’s lead to 2-0. Aaronson cut onto his right foot before unleashing a powerful shot into the left corner.
Weston McKennie benefitted from a failed clearance in the box by scoring his 10th international goal. McKennie’s left-footed shot nestled into the bottom-left corner, making it 3-0 to the Americans.
Myles Hippolyte cut the deficit to 3-1 in the 32nd minute, stroking a left-footed shot past Turner and into the bottom-right corner. The USMNT failed to pick up Hippolyte at the top of the box and the midfielder made no mistake.
McKennie added his second goal of the night before halftime, poking home in the box after Auston Trusty kept Pulisic’s free kick from going out of bounds. It marked McKennie’s first multi-goal performance since October 2019 vs. Cuba.
The Americans continued to pile on the offensive pressure after halftime with Pulisic’s low drive sneaking past Jason Belfon in the 49th minute. Pulisic’s shot was deflected by Belfon, but the veteran keeper couldn’t keep his shot from crossing the goal-line.
Luca De La Torre’s deadly through ball pass up the middle of the field in the 53rd minute allowed Pepi to slot home his second goal of the match. Pepi was left one-on-one with Belfon, delivering a right-footed shot down the middle of the goal.
Alex Zendejas came off the bench in the 64th minute and made an instant impact just eight minutes later to pad the final score at 7-1. Zendejas picked up a pass just outside of Grenada’s box before curling a left-footed shot into the bottom-left corner.
Yunus Musah, Daryl Dike, and Johnny Cardoso appeared off the bench to earn important minutes as the Americans held on for a convincing victory.
The USMNT now leads El Salvador by two points heading into Monday’s final group stage match in Orlando, Florida.
Roberto Martinez was a fan fav to replace Berhalter. Today against Luxembourg (better than Grenada but not a powerhouse) he started Ronaldo, 35 yr old Patricio, 31 yr old Periera, and 28 yr old Silva and Fernandes while mixing in a couple players in early twenties. Portugal in its last 10 meetings with Luxembourg had outscored them 34-2. When games counts teams will field near best available, it’s not a US thing it’s just a thing.
i thought the strong players yesterday were pulisic, mckennie, scally, turner, and then zendejas off the bench. i thought aaronson and reyna seemed uninvolved. i thought reynolds looked awful.
zendejas to me looks interesting as an interior player, explosive and he will go at people. mckennie to me he crashes the box and scores, which is superficially appealing and might be good off a bench, but he isn’t as good at actually playing an AM slot over 90′, you know, the get it give it part, and while i have seen him slalom a defense it’s not a regular part of his game.
i like scally over jedi because he will defend the position better.
i enjoyed that we more fully committed to one phase of the game than usual. last 5 years have seemed like a muddle that is not that dangerous but also not airtight. i have said attack more or defend tighter. i thought we for a change committed to offense. we had a lot of AM types out there until johnny went on, and we did a lot less of the keepaway by the flag then cross nonsense. selected attackers and played more direct. fun to watch and more dangerous. i might quibble about who exactly to play but to me that approach is what a 433 calls for.
people may say “but that was grenada” but we did that same thing against mexico in the nations league final we won 3-2 in OT. to me since then the pendulum has swung too far over towards hustle and pressure but without being that effective a defense. you want to really win the tough ones we need to pick a phase and do it very well. aggressive attack or sit back, defend like mad, and play for a goal. pick one.
This was one of those lopsided contests in which the outcome was pre-ordained and from which we learned almost nothing. There was absolutely no reason to play anything approaching our best team because the only significant thing that could have occurred was a major injury. We should have used this window as an opportunity to evaluate young talent and see which of the oldsters are worth hanging on to. There is no reason that the current crop of up and comers are not as capable as the up and comers were 4 years ago and who now populate our first team. They should not have to wait for the USA to bomb out of qualification in order to get the opportunity to show what they can do.
Aren’t we using this window to evaluate young talent? Scally, Reynolds, Trusty, McKenzie, Pepi, Dike, Booth, Cardoso all played. Zendejas is not that young, but is new to the team and he played.
Huh? What young crop? The crop who just lost to France u20’s 4-0.
They are preparing for their u20 WC.
This US team still has plenty of young and unproven players. Cardoso 21, Reynolds 21, Scally 20, Reyna 20, Booth 21, Pepi 20, Dike 22, Zendejas 24, Trusty 24, Aaronson 21.
And the US U-20team lost to Englands U-20 !team today 4-2.
One more game against Serbia.
Not a good look for Mikey Varas team. Both France and England are going to u20 WC.
Once they qualify as expected for Nations League onMonday, then the US men will have that plus the Gold Cup this summer. Look for the new and emerging talent to be brought in for the Gold Cup as in past years.
i agree because what i see happening is we see the first choice starters for ES at home, which will be another blowout, which will defend the status quo, and this game was a blowout itself that maybe uncovered 2 useful “new” players.
in particular the world cup said the defense needed some change, and i saw maybe 1 guy up to the task, who under status quo might still sit behind jedi.
i also agree in the sense that normally at this stage of the cycle our first friendly is very experimental. south africa in 2011. portugal in 2017. let’s see what else we have. doing it this way protects the status quo. which is fine if you just lifted the trophy but naive and perhaps explains the tendency to plateau, if you don’t win it.
Do you really think the U20s didn’t face better competition playing England and France this week?
As for your nostalgia for South Africa friendly in Nov of 2010. It was the 4th match post WC. It did only feature 5 members of the WC squad (Spector, Guzan, Bornstein, Goodson, Findley). It was played in an International date but Euro leagues and MLS did not stop playing with matches on the 13th and 20th with the friendly on the 17th. MLS was in their playoffs so only players on teams eliminated participated. By the next full window in March vs Argentina, the US started 10 of 11 from 2010 WC only Jermaine Jones who would have been in WC if available was new.
in terms of who we could have seen: gaga tolkin cowell vazquez balogun cohen konrad EPB green holmes ledezma mighten pefok richards wright etc. there is some nonsense like everyone interesting is either here, got january, or is in U20. nonsense. there is a long list of european based or domestics who should have been in a first team camp.
i agree that this was overkill — the US used to be smarter about trying new things while making their margin. i think we are very insecure post JK and particularly post couva.
i don’t understand why we couldn’t give “europe” an experiment like MLS got in january, figure out who new we like from there, then pick a freshened summer roster to play for real. like i said in my other post, i think the way this got done serves hudson trying to keep his job, protects the jobs of the qatar bunch, and makes it harder to break into a team that lost round of 16 and needs a little change.
eg i think we about need a whole new backline from qatar. what did we get from last night? scally, maybe? next game will be the usual wingbacks, ream and miles, probably. miles will be a second add, and not a really new and shocking one. we need 4 new backs.
they don’t have to qualify so you’re only going to see the problems at the edges, summer tournament finishes, more losses than made sense. i hope they hire a new coach, someone big, because to me this needs fresh eyes.
Your the way we used to do it is false. First matches after 2014 we started 8 of 11 from WC, 2010, by the 4th we started 10 of 11 (although JJ started as CB). We started 9 of 11 from WC (couldn’t find list of reserves). I don’t think you’re trying to mislead you just remembered it the way that fit your opinion.
Also love how you slid Balogun in there like we didn’t ask him. 🤣🤣🤣
Ughh can’t edit
2014 8 of 11 starters in first match after WC were WC players. 10 of 11 by 4th match and they were all friendlies. 2010 9 of 11 were WC roster players.
I am more and more convinced that Gio is way overhyped. He is not a “starlet” and definitely no where near as good as Pulisic. If I’m ranking players in the U.S. pool based of perceived importance to the team, he’s not even in the top 10.
I hope he improves because he’s been trending downwards for a while, both at Dortmund and the USMNT. He’s showing more of a Feilhaber trajectory right now rather than a Donovan/Dempsey trajectory. I hope he starts against El Salvador but he can’t look like he did today.
He definitely has talent, but I have never thought he was on the level of Pulisic. He can definitely still be one of our best players when he is on his game.
Not many players have Pulisic level talent with his 1v1/1 v against the defense attacking.prowess. Pulisics only problem has been his consistency in the attacking third. If he can become more clinical in front of goal with goals and assists with both club and international teams…. he will be a force.
Reyna is still young and he does have the talent to become a De Bruyne type of midfielder. Just needs to get out of his own head.
Kinda getting there with you. I’ve always hated his indifferent pressing and defending, his work rate is terrible and his body language and poutiness on the field is worse, and he’s a guy you need to pull after at most 60 because he tends to fade out of the game. Now even against freaking Grenada he looked largely invisible…and if you’re going to be a pure playmaking 10, you’d durn well better not be invisible even on the offensive end. I’d go further than you and say: unless he picks it up substantially, I probably wouldn’t even call him up until he re-establishes his improved form on the club level. He’ll probably get another look against El Salvador – and he should – but unless we see a different, sharper, more involved and incisive guy, it might be time to park him for awhile.
Gio’s without question got talent and I’d keep him warm and keep an eye peeled his way, certainly. But the production just isn’t there right now, and I have no idea why.
Why should he get another look against El Salvador? He had his chances and has shown nothing. Give somebody else a chancee. Unless you’re a coach that kicked your girlfriend 30 years ago I don’t see why he should start again until he performs for the team.
Got to be fair to the other players.
Agree that Gio needs another chance. Why? Because he’s got some skills that we could really use, IF he develops into the sort of player we’ve seen flashes of in Mexico and Dortmund. He’s is *potentially* that good.
Right now, to Rob’s point, he isn’t. Gio is hiding and pouting. If he were 24-25 years old, I’d be done with him. But he’s 20, and he just came off/is in the middle of some insanely negative publicity based on the asinine behavior of his crazy helicopter parents. Evidently, Gio hasn’t really left the nest… or so it appears.
Imo, Gio is SO talented, has such a high *potential* upside, that I am willing to keep him in the squad, or even start him, so long as he makes incremental progress and doesn’t disturb the locker room. Give him game time away from mom and dad. Let the other players be the ones to tell him to pick it up. Maybe another player or two step in or step up to take some focus and pressure off of Gio.
If 6-months of actual PT under better conditions doesn’t get him out of his funk — or if it somehow gets worse — then, at that point, he needs to be left off the squad.
The national team is meant to develop teams, not players. That’s what clubs are for.
A player that rides the bench for his club and shows a lackadaisical attitude for both club and country should not be an automatic starter for the NT. Reward somebody else with that spot.
All the potential in the world and $10 don’t even get you a six pack of decent beer nowadays.
Rob: I would normally agree. But this team is young. This guy is young, and maybe emotionally younger than 20. No point in making his situation worse just to show how “tough” we are. This isn’t a club team where you can more easily rotate or sell to replace someone with his potential. It’s not about “development” either. Fact is, we don’t have anyone else with Gio’s ceiling, and playing with this group is more likely to help him unfunk himself than some hardass manager at a club in Europe. 6 months won’t hurt. Obviously, if his attitude becomes a pattern in training, and in the locker room, and in games … Tighten the leash. Or leave him off the roster
Being invisible? Not sure about that one. Not his greatest game, but I saw a guy that got fouled 3 times near the box and should have been awarded a PK but there was no VAR. If we want to talk about being invisible, let’s talk about that backline in the first half. That’s more worrisome.
“A player that rides the bench for his club and shows a lackadaisical attitude for both club and country should not be an automatic starter for the NT.”
Then, I guess Turner, Pulisic … should never start, and useless Ferreira, Long, Arriola… should be getting starts. Rob, nobody is an automatic starter. Even Pulisic has come off the bench for the US for not playing his best at times.
As for Gio, he’s not wasting away on the bench accumulating cobwebs at Dortmund. He has been coming off the bench most of the time and has even scored some impressive goals off the bench. He just turned 20. If he doesn’t keep getting injured, he will be one of the US’s best players.
On another note, Gio has never showed a lackadaisical attitude for club and has never had any trouble at all with Dortmund. During the WC, Gio didn’t put much effort in a few practices and apologized for his poor behavior and this should have been the end of it; but the buffoon in GB could not keep his trap shut and that escalated everything. Now, you have these little subtle hit piece articles orchestrated by the USSF to not make GB look bad, just in case they decide to hire this Benny Hill of a coach as a last resort.
reyna would normally be slaloming players like pulisic and zendejas were. 2-3 years ago he was the dominant dribbler on the team. i do wonder what is off.
Rob: i get promoting or dropping based on NT performance but your club form analysis is off. when he plays there he scores. and running this show where we favor someone who starts in MLS over someone who sits in EPL or B.1 is likely to result in backwards talent eval. it’s precisely why richards, weah, sargent, and others got sandbagged. you have to factor in WHERE people are playing.
i do think reyna might not have realized that was the B team game, he didn’t seem to find a way to shine, and i will be curious where he slots in on the depth chart next week and then this summer. this team is talented and one cannot coast.
beg to differ IV, his club form analysis is not off…again it is yours with your heavily biased lens re. Gio
A little harsh for me. It’s true he didn’t influence the game, but there are some legitimate reasons. Grenada packed it in, sat in front of their goal all game, crowding his space. He could have pushed too much dropping too deep or going out wide to get the ball (like a younger Pulisic might have), but instead he stayed central and let Pulisic and then Zendejas dominate Grenada on the left all game long. He was kicked and fouled almost as much as Pulisic but didn’t get the calls (including an early one that should have been a penalty). And then there’s the weight of the off-field stuff, most of which was not his doing. I’m gonna cut him a break for now since it seems like his teammates have moved on and clearly want him on the team. We need to remember he is a full 4 years behind Pulisic. If he’s not one of our top 10 players now, he’s still pretty close, and his potential is to be one of our best ever.
Gio has people just waiting to jump on him. Unless he had scored a hat trick in this game he was always going to get criticized.
What about Pulisic playing on fire? He has to. He’s fighting for a place with Chelsea and even his international games matter. For a guy with meager playing time, he’s trying to stay hot.
For Reyna, getting to 64 minutes w/o injury especially in this kind of game, meaning it’s a good injury risk game for guys in the middle, is an accomplishment.
“reyna would normally be slaloming players like pulisic and zendejas were. 2-3 years ago he was the dominant dribbler on the team. i do wonder what is off.”
Even Pulisic doesn’t dribble that much anymore. It looks great but it also slows things down. When CR7 was younger and played more on the wing he had the whole bag of tricks. But as he moved to Madrid ,got older and played more centrally, he dropped a lot of the flash. I expect Pulisic to follow a similar arc.
Vacqui, CP dribbled the entire game, literally, what are you taking about? and got hacked a million times for it. proved nothing except he’s willing to sacrifice his body in a game like that by holding the ball so much and dribbling vs, a team that is quite poor and overmatched in every aspect
equally hyperbolic the wrong way. dude has 11 G 9 A in 3287′ in B.1, ie, a goal every 300′ or so. he also has 4 G 1A in 909′ in 17 caps. i think you could make a more subtle argument that the player we saw in, say, the ’21 NL finals hasn’t shown up lately. but that’s more like is he elite or just above average.
i was trying to figure out if we were going a little “positionless” last night — there was a lot of interchange — but reyna was routinely dropping back into like a pirlo deep lying playmaker role and not very effective when he did it. wasn’t sure if his heart wasn’t in it or he wasn’t comfortable.
Here are my main takeaways. 1. I think Grenada’s unis are really ugly. 2. Reagen Charles-Clark has a cool name. 3. We won like we should have.
Granada is clearly a soft opponent, but lots of positives.
– Reyna starts and blends right in. The controversy is in the past. Time to move on.
– Pepi has his confidence back. Hoping he lands at PSV or another team upgrade next season.
– Trusty looked poised in his US debut, despite a weak opponent. Here’s hoping he gets callous against quality opponents.
– Zendeljas is officially cap-tied, and clearly a keeper.
– Booth makes his debut. He’s just 21.
Booth was also eligible for Italy. I think this means he’s tied to the US since he’s 21 but I’m not sure anymore.
Johnny Cardoso now apparently locked in as well.
Booth looked pretty nervous was over hitting everything. Hopefully he can get some minutes in Orlando to see if he settles a little.
Adrenaline, it looked like. Booth was overcooking stuff something awful. His crosses were almost landing on the running track. I saw enough to tell me he’s really really fast and he made some nice slashing touches but he was so juiced it was hard to tell anything more than that. I’d be like: okay, you got that out of your system, now show me what you can actually do because I’m still not sure.
Zendejas looked as good to me this time around as he did the first time. Dunno why the Tactical Manager guy isn’t so high on him but I personally really don’t care about perceived pedigree (yeah, yeah, I know Zendejas started as a lowly MLS prospect who rarely saw the field) or where he’s playing his ball now, I care about skill and effectiveness and the dude showed me once again he’s one of the top 2-3 most technical guys on our roster. He can play in an absolute shoebox – which is our main deficiency – and he also showed he can be effective either side and even as a left wing he’s inclined to tuck in and find those inside channels, which I really like. (Though I think he’d pair better with an outside back more inclined to come forwards than Scally is, whereas Pulisic seemed to pair pretty well with Scally because Scally wasn’t running up his butt and getting in his preferred space the way Jedi Robinson sometimes seems to.)
Whatever. Zendejas can flat ball, and I think he’ll secure a spot for himself in very short order…and wow, what an upgrade he is on the likes of Areola or Morris. I still think he’ll be at least a co-starter with the likes of Pulisic and Weah and an incredibly useful player for us. Booth, no clue yet. We’ll know more, I suspect, the next time out.
And people were saying Cowell is better than Zendajas that’s so cute!
zendejas did not play that way in january, sorry, revisionist history. that was a different player. he plays like that he should start ahead of reyna, musah, or mckennie.
IMO he doesn’t need to be playing wide where he has to track back half the time. that looked like an interior terror and that spot you have to get back but you can share the marking around and cover for each other.
That’s why you have to watch more than 60 minutes of a player. Anyone that’s watched Cowell knows his game is exactly what he showed against Serbia moments of athletic flash followed by shanked crosses, give away dribbling into three defenders, and off target shots. If you watch Zendajas for Club America you technical skill and creativity on the ball. You saw flashes of that once Williamson came in for Sonora the last 30 minutes. Sonora not being an 8 kept getting in Zendajas ‘s space. What will Cowell be when he’s 24? Maybe a lot better than Alex but right now not close.
Zendejas showed very well in January too…you are the revisionist IV, you do it all the time man. run for office, you might win
Zendejas does so many little things really well- fleet of foot, quick mind, skilled. Thrilled to have him and the very much needed quality depth. It’s also quite refreshing and hopefully contagious to have someone not afraid to put a hard shot on frame from outside the box. Musah, Aaronson, Mckennie, Adams- please do follow suit!