ASN Thoughts: USMNT routs Grenada 7-1 in Nations League
March 25, 2023
THE UNITED STATES is one step closer to clinching an expected spot back in the Nations League semifinal following Friday’s 7-1 pounding of a mostly semipro/amateur Granada team. Now all the U.S. team needs is a draw against El Salvador on Monday to clinch advancement.
There isn’t much to take away from this game. Granada clearly doesn’t have the ability to play with a World Cup caliber opponent and this game was like last year’s 5-0 win in Austin. It was never in doubt and trying to draw conclusions from this game is misleading.
But here are some big pictures thoughts on the game.
The best way for heavily favored teams to avoid a stressful game is just to go out and score early to eliminate the other team’s hope. That’s exactly what happened here. Four minutes in, Christian Pulisic crosses to Ricardo Pepi for a goal. From there, Grenada had to take risks and that gave the U.S. team more openings.
Christian Pulisic came out and owned the game from the opening minutes. He continues to be such a consistent performer for the U.S. team. No matter the opponent, or the tournament, Pulisic delivers on the international stage.
Inside of the first 31 minutes, Pulisic assisted on Pepi’s goal, scored, and then sent in a free kick that eventually resulted in a Weston McKennie goal. Then in the 34th, he sent in another free kick that found Auston Trusty who then headed to McKennie for a 4-1 lead.
That man ©?????????? pic.twitter.com/jr9rsu1hOH— U.S. Men's National Soccer Team (@USMNT) March 25, 2023
Everything dangerous early in the game, when it mattered most, came from Pulisic.
The trailing runner
Grenada scored an unexpected goal in the 31st minute when Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong moved the ball down the right side of the box and found a trailing runner in Myles Hippolyte who then beat Matt Turner. Goals like this happen but it was eerily a reminder of the goal Dutch attacker Memphis Depay scored against the United States at the World Cup in the round of 16 knockout. In that goal, Tyler Adams failed to pick up Depay on the run.
Obviously, Adams wasn’t in this game but this one should have been picked up by Luca de la Torre or Weston McKennie. But for the United States, this is something that is a little bit of a concern right now in picking up trialing runners.
Cap-tying & newcomers
By virtue of playing in this game, three dual nationals were cap-tied to the U.S. national team. Johnny Cardoso (Brazil), Taylor Booth (Italy), and Alejandro Zendejas (Mexico) were cap-tied. All three came off the bench and for Cardoso and Booth, it was an uneventful game. Zendejas scored the team’s final goal in the 73rd minute.
As for newcomers, it was the first cap for Booth and central defender Auston Trusty who wasn’t tested defensively in the game.
One talking point was that this was the first game the U.S. national team played without any MLS players since the league started. As was noted when the roster came out, with MLS playing through this window, U.S. interim manager Anthony Hudson opted to let most MLS-based players remain with their clubs and instead use them next month for the Mexico friendly.
That being said, seven of the team’s 11 players were former MLS homegrown players. Another two, Gio Reyna and Weston McKennie, spent substantial time in MLS academies. In total, nine players who played form the USMNT against Grenada played in MLS and have been sold collectively in their career for nearly $100 million. When the league took a more selling approach, this was always the goal – big value and players who would move on to keep pushing up.
But more young players will continue to emerge from within the league – which is critical.