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USMNT analysis

Dest, Lletget, Musah Aaronson star as USMNT down Jamaica 4-1

The United States was dominant on Thursday in a 4-1 win over Jamaica behind goals from Sergino Dest, Brenden Aaronson, and a brace from Sebastian Lletget. ASN's Brian Sciaretta breaks down the game for you here. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
March 25, 2021
9:00 PM

THE UNITED STATES national team defeated Jamaica 4-1 in convincing fashion on Thursday in its first game of the March international window. The U.S. team was clearly better over the course of 90 minutes and almost every American player had a positive impact in the game.

Without Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, and Tim Weah, the U.S. team rolled out a lineup that matched youth and experience. Sebastian Lletget and Kellyn Acosta started in the midfield along with Yunus Musah. Christian Pulisic and Gio Reyna were on the wings with Sargent in the middle.

The backline featured Sergino Dest on the left, Reggie Cannon on the right, with John Brooks and Aaron Long in the middle. Zack Steffen, obviously, was in goal.

The U.S. team controlled this one from the start and had almost all of the dangerous chances throughout the game. Sergino Dest’s goalazzo in the 34th minute set the tone and show cased the ability he has at left back to cut into the middle of the field.


In the second half, the substitutions paid off well for the United States and Jamaica lacked the depth to match it. Brenden Aaronson was especially strong when coming into the game for Christian Pulisic to start the final 45 minutes. He nearly had an assist to Reyna who mishit the pass. Then in the 54th minute, he scored a nice goal on a slick pass from Sargent.


Jamaica pulled one back in the 70th minute on a counter attack. With the U.S. team taking a corner kick, central defenders John Brooks and Chris Richards were pushed up the field. Jamaica moved the ball up quickly up the field and the U.S. team made a series of errors. Antonee Robinson let a runner get past him, Reggie Cannon failed to close down on a runner and allowed a pass to go through his legs. Acosta then saw Jamal Lowe get behind him.

Then in the 83rd minute, Lletget put the game out of reach on a nice combination where Aaronson found substitute Nicholas Gioacchini wide right. The SM Caen attacker then sent a ball to the top of the box for Lletget.


The nail in the coffin happened in stoppage time when substitute Luca de la Torre move the ball into the box and then found Lletget for another finish in the middle of the field. For the Bay Area native, it was his sixth goal for the U.S. team in 19 games.



The Best Dest has Looked at LB


Sergino Dest was the MOTM in this game and it was the best he has looked playing left back. He was able to cut into the field, create, and link with Pulisic. His skills one the ball were the best in the game of any player.

In addition to his goal and dribbling, his ball-winning was also first-rate. Combing duels and aerials, Dest was successful in 6/7 opportunities.


Berhalter was quick to point out after the game that he values Dest on both the left and the right side. For the manager, he brings different attributes either side with the ability to cut centrally on the left compared with a more vertical game on the right.

Dest is also shifting position at Barcelona where he has moved from right back to a wingback role and that has resulted in him playing the best offensive soccer of his career. That switch has given him confidence and that carried over into camp – even at a different position.

"He's really strong on both sides," Berhalter said. "I think on the left, what you saw tonight was the ability to come inside, combine, and shoot for himself - create for himself, and open up the field. On the right side, it's more of a vertical type game. Both can be effective. On the left, sometimes you can potentially lose the verticality of his passing because he plays inside often. Those are all things to consider. He enjoys playing on either side. IT's not an issue. It's more about the quality we have in each position weighing that in where we think it makes most sense."


Aaronson solid off the bench


Brenden Aaronson, 20, came on to start the second half and the Red Bull Salzburg attacking midfielder made an instant impact. Minutes into the second half, he hit a first rate through ball to Reyna before scoring a goal for himself. He was also part of the buildup of both of Lletget’s goals. Over his 45 minutes, he completed all but one of his passes and made a very positive impact in the game.


Aaronson can play out wide and centrally – giving Berhalter options. With the U.S. team trending so young these days, consistency will be uneven and players form fluctuate more than a team of players mostly in their prime. More options are needed and Aaronson is a high-quality option at that.

"I really liked his performance today," Berhalter said. "I know when you win, you are gushing about everyone. I think he had a strong performance. I really do. I think he gave us verticality on the wing. He was strong and composed. He made some really good plays. He was strong in pressing. You can see that being with Jesse Marsch and Red Bull Salzburg, has been positive... He's battling. He's going up guys twice his size and he doesn't hesitate at all. These are the things he's really improved on."


Lletget strong outing


Sebastian Lletget had a very good outing and it wasn’t just the two goals to seal the win for the United States. His passing was crisp in the playmaking role and of his 51 completed passes, 45 were in the attacking half of the field.



But underrated about his performance was his movement. While not fast, Lletget has always read the game well and there were several moments, such as this below, where he helped to open space for others with his off-ball movement.


Lletget has quietly put out steady outings for the U.S. team and Berhalter seems to trust him. He won’t always start but he will continue to see minutes.

"I got a lot of questions this week about Sebastian Lletget and I thought his performance spoke for itself tonight, for sure," Berhalter said. "He's a really good player - a really technical player. He reads the game well and is able to arrive in the penalty box and finish his opportunities."


Acosta as McKennie/Adams backup?


Given the absence of Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie along with Andres Perea, Jackson Yueill, and Johnny Cardoso on duty with the U.S. U-23 team, it wasn’t a surprise that Kellyn Acosta was starting for the U.S. team. The Texan, however, took advantage of the opportunity of so many central midfielders not with the team.

Acosta had a solid outing in a number of different ways. His passing was at a very high percentage and 77% of his completed passes were in the attacking half.

Most importantly for Acosta, he matched up well athletically with Jamaica – which is one of the strengths of their team. He perhaps had too many fouls but defensively, he was solid in the midfield. He was one of several American players who could have done better on Jamaica’s goal as Lowe got behind him. That was only after Robinson failed to break up the play in the midfield and Cannon did not close down on his attacker and let the pass get between his legs to find Lowe.


It's safe to say that Acosta won’t start when Adams and McKennie are both available to start but having both healthy at any one time has been rare. Acosta is quietly helping his case to be inside the 23 and be a key backup on the first team.

"Kellyn is a guy that is not his familiar position. He normally plays higher up the field in an attacking position," Berhalter said. "I thought he had an excellent game.  I really do. I thought he was winning a lot of duels. He was positioning well. It looked like he played there before. It's good to see him take that next step from being a guy who hasn't been involved these past two years now working is way into it and having a good performance like he did tonight."


Musah & Pulisic impress


Two of the most skillful attacking players made their first appearance together with the U.S. team. For Pulisic, it was his first time with the U.S. team in nearly 18 months. Pulisic’s season at Chelsea hasn’t been great but his last two games have been very good. It was predetermined that he was only going to go 45 minutes and during that time he combined well with Dest and was dangerous on multiple occasions.

Musah, 18, was outstanding in this game in nearly every area. He was 92% in his passing. He was 3/3 in long balls. In his ball-winning, he was 6/6 in combined duels and aerials. He seemed to give the U.S. team a huge edge in the midfield.

"I thought he was solid," Berhalter said of Musah. "Picture this: he hasn't played in this position since last November - when with us. To put in a performance like that is commendable. I thought he did a very good job. He was a connector. It was a very simple but very effective game tonight. He closed down space well. He just made everything look easy and he had a very, very strong performance tonight."



Steffen: 5.5: Mostly untested

Cannon: 4.5: It wasn’t Cannon’s night offensively or defensively

Long: 6.5: Played the first half and was steady. His mobility was an asset.

Brooks: 6.0: Sluggish first half but improved as the game went on .

Dest: 8.5 - MOTM: The best player on the field. Terrific goal and very dangerous dribbling.

Acosta: 6.5: Solid passing and kept Jamaica’s athletic midfielders in check.

Musah: 8.0: Smooth on both sides of the ball and elevated his teammates.

Lletget: 8.5: Two goals and an overall strong outing.

Pulisic: 6.5: Only played the first 45 but was part of several dangerous chances.

Reyna: 5.5: A few nice moments but otherwise was more quiet than his teammates.

Sargent: 7.0: The goals weren’t there but his movement was excellent and his passing was effective.




Aaronson: 7.5: Made an immediate impact with a goal and had a hand in numerous good chances.

Richards: 6.5: Dependable with no major mistakes.

Robinson: 5.5: Quiet with no major impact, could have done more on Jamaica’s counter for the goal.

Gioacchini: 6.5: Worked hard up the field and added an assist on the third goal.

De La Torre: 6.5: showed well in his 17 minutes and picked up an assist on the final goal

Siebatcheu: NR: His USMNT debut only yielded a few touches

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