USMNT analysis

Thoughts and Player Ratings: Reyna & Wright lead USMNT to a dramatic win over Jamaica

The United States national team did not have a good game for over 90 minute but a dramatic equalizer followed by a dominant extratime period saw the USMNT through to the Nations League final. ASN's Brian Sciaretta breaks down the game with his thoughts and player ratings. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
March 22, 2024
1:05 AM

PART OF IT was luck, Part of it was deserved. Part of it was the consequences of their own making. But the United States is through to the Nations League Final again after a dramatic 3-1 extratime win over Jamaica on Thursday night in Dallas.

The box score laid out the basics. Jamaica scored 31 seconds into the game when Greg Leigh put Jamaica up 1-0 when he headed home a cross delivered by Bobby Reid. The U.S. team didn’t respond until the fifth minute of stoppage time, after the game was set to end. A Miles Robinson header off a corner was redirected by Cory Burke into his own net for a 1-1 equalizer. At the time, U.S. goalkeeper Matt Turner was moved into the box out of desperation.


The U.S. team then won it comfortably in extra time via substitutes with Haji Wright scoring two nice goals that were both assisted by Gio Reyna.

Here are some thoughts on the game.


Possession without purpose


The U.S. team dominated this game in many regards. Jamaica took a 1-0 lead into the half despite only completing 41 passes in the first 45 minutes. It’s not unusual for a team to be winning against the run of play. But Jamaica was connecting less than one pass a minute at a rate of 54%. This is compared with 342 passes completed by the USMNT at 90%. The possession edge was 83-17% in favor of the U.S. team.

That is about as dominant a half in possession as you can find. But it’s not as if the U.S. was missing great chances with that possession, the U.S. wasn’t creating much of anything.

The U.S. team improved in the second half. Reyna came in at the half in place of Joe Scally, who had a poor half (and was mostly at fault for the goal) and this bolstered the attack.

Then the tripled sub in the 64th minute really helped as Haji Wright, Ricardo Pepi, and Tyler Adams came into the game. In addition to Reyna’s creativity, he now had other players to connect with on the field.

Yes, it took until the death for the U.S. team to equalize but it had been coming. Part of the dramatic equalizer was luck, but the U.S. team had been earning that luck.

Extratime was simply a better team with momentum steamrolling an team that was fatigued from chasing the game.

But the U.S. team has serious questions about why a Malik Tillman, Yunus Musah, and Weston Mckennie team couldn’t create more and why the front line was rarely ever able to move into dangerous positions regularly.


Tillman and Balogun were off


Malik Tillman and Folarin Balogun came into this game with questions. Balogun is having a subpar season with Monaco and his last outing with the U.S. team in the loss to Trinidad and Tobago was also weak. Meanwhile, Tillman came into this game amid a good season with PSV, but is still yet to see his club form translate over to the USMNT with any sort of consistency.

Neither player answered the question we had about them affirmatively. Balogun still didn’t show sufficient chemistry with his teammates and more creativity was needed out of Tillman playing the No. 10.

It is only fair to point out that other players also did not have good games. Yunus Musah final ball sometimes lacks, and when that happens he is prone to having ineffective games. That was the case here. Joe Scally started in place of the suspended Sergino Dest and the Monchengladbach right back had a first half to forget. Tim Weah was also lackluster.


Reyna and Wright


Without a doubt, Gio Reyna and Haji Wright won the game for the U.S. team. They were what finally gave the U.S. team some teeth behind its massive possession edge. Wright was making the right runs and Reyna was making the right passes.

For these two players, it meant two different things.


For Reyna, he came into this camp now towards the end of yet another frustrating season. His loan to Nottingham Forest is not giving him the minutes he needs and it’s unclear what will happen this summer. Yet, despite him in his third straight season that will likely end with less than 1000 minutes played, he still plays well regularly for the U.S. team.

This is still not a good place for Reyna to be in because, at some point, he will need to play well for his club. But for now, he is showing he is still an important player.

But for Reyna, this was a very good 75-minute shift. For someone who has played so little with his club, it is also a question of how long he can go in a game on Sunday? Can he start and play another long shift on just two days of rest?


Player ratings

The Starting lineup


Matt Turner: The Nottingham Forest goalkeeper made two saves, one decent. Was the goal savable? Yes. But it would have been a tremendous save. Rating: 5.5

Antonee Robinson: The Fulham left back was a tireless worker on the left side and got up and down the sidelines. But he could have done better defending the cross on Jamaica’s opening goal. He also struggled with his own final ball. Rating: 5.5

Chris Richards: Wasn’t tested much defensively, but he was very good passing out of the back. He was also on the ball a lot, helping to maintain the possession edge. Rating: 6.5

Miles Robinson: While not quite as sharp in passing as Richards, Robinson was dominant in the air defensively and then late in the game, got involved offensively when his shot was redirected into the goal for a dramatic equalizer. He won 11/13 of his aerials.  Rating: 7.0

Joe Scally: Tough day at the office for Scally who was beaten on the opener from Leigh. He also didn’t help much in the attack before being replaced at the half. Rating: 4.5

Yunus Musah: Musah dribbled well, helped in possession, but didn’t create much and his final ball wasn’t there. Rating: 5.5

Weston Mckennie: The Juventus midfielder started in the midfield and then shifted to right back after Scally was subbed out. He was the most effective midfield starter for the U.S. team as he was generally effective getting the ball into the attacking third. He also used his impressive passing range to spread Jamaica’s defense thin. It was also his 50h cap for the USMNT. Rating: 6.5

Malik Tillman: The PSV attacking midfielder had three shots but generally didn’t get on the ball enough or create enough to help the U.S. team turn possession into goal scoring chances. Rating: 5.0

Christian Pulisic: It was clear Jamaica respected Pulisic and were intent on doing anything to stop him. As a result, Jamaica fouled Pulisic six times. But Pulisic still was dangerous with four shots and a number of chances created. Even if he didn’t score, Pulisic helped apply pressure. Rating: 7.0

Tim Weah: The Juventus right winger/back had two shots in this game, but wasn’t as threatening as he needs to be before he was subbed out in the 63rd minute. Rating: 5.5

Folarin Balogun: The Monaco forward had two shots but only 21 touches as he didn’t get on the ball nearly enough. Rating: 5.0


The substitutes


Gio Reyna: The Nottingham Forest playmaker came on in the second half and was a game changer in extra time with his two classy assists to Wright. All throughout the second half and extratime, he was helping the U.S. team just play better. Rating: 8.5

Haji Wright: The Coventry City forward did what he has been doing in his big season in the Championship. He doesn’t get on the ball a lot and he doesn’t connect often with his teammates in combination. Instead, he is very direct and makes the most of limited touches with incredible efficiency. In this game, it was two goals in less than 20 touches. Rating: 8.0

Tyler Adams: The USMNT captain made his first appearance with the team since the 2022 World Cup entering the game in the 64th minute and leaving in the 100th minute. He added more than just simple possession. He seemed to help inspire his teammates and he brough some composure and maturity on the field. His return will get lost amid the other stories of the night, but he did well. Rating: 6.0

Ricardo Pepi: The PSV forward wasn’t terribly effective but he gave the team another point of attack in a 57-minute shift. Rating: 5.0

Brendan Aaronson: The Union Berlin attacking mid/winger brought some energy and spirt to the game but didn’t connect on much offense. Rating: 6.0

Johnny Cardoso: The Real Betis forward was sharp over the final 20 minutes as the U.S. team took control and saw out the win with a dominant showing during the extratime periods. Rating: 6.0


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