Thoughts on the U.S. team's 6-0 win over El Salvador in Florida
December 09, 2020
THE UNITED STATES NATIONAL team concluded its 2020 calendar year with a convincing 6-0 win over an El Salvador team that was completely matched from the opening whistle. The U.S. started very strong with five first-half goals before coasting in the second half.
The U.S. opened the scoring with a goal from Paul Arriola and he was joined by Chris Muller scoring twice and Sebastian Lletget, Ayo Akinola, and Brenden Aaronson each adding one.
Over the 90 minutes, the U.S. team was better in all facets and, while it took its foot off the gas pedal the last 30 minutes of the game, it never played down to the level of its opponent.
It must be mentioned that El Salvador was very poor in this game and you don’t want to draw too much from this game. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a worthwhile experience. For one, it wasn’t just one game. U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter had the opportunity to watch these players throughout an entire camp that will also help him sort through the player pool.
Also, this was much better than a typical January camp game either. In January camp, the first half is typically spent trying to shake off rust due to being in off-season form. The games are often disjointed and without chemistry. With most of these players still fit and in-form due to the season having just been completed, it allowed Berhalter to conduct camp at a more advanced level than January.
With that said, here are my thoughts on the game
Mueller was the MOTM
Chris Mueller, 24, was easily the Man of the Match in this game. He scored twice, assisted once, and had another deflected pass that set up another goal. This was also impressive given that this was his first international call-up at any level – with no youth national team call-ups in his past.
What was interesting with Mueller is that he played with a lot of emotion early and simply outworked opponents to get into dangerous areas. His second goal, a diving header off of a Julian Araujo cross, was the best highlight of the night.
The U.S. national team pool remains very competitive on the wings with Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna (who might settle centrally), Jordan Morris, Konrad de la Fuente, Uly Llanez, and others making a strong case right now. But next year with the Olympics, the Nations League , and the Gold Cup taking place, Mueller is in a good position to continue to get looks at some point. Then it will be up to him.
In this game, his numbers were solid:
- 90 minutes
- 42 touches
- 2 goals
- 1 assist
- 21/26 passing (80%)
- 17 of 21 completed passes in attacking half
- 1 dribble
- 3x fouled
- 5 duels won (5 lost)
Arriola was sharp
It always seemed like Gregg Berhalter liked what Paul Arriola brought to the team but heading into this game, there were questions about Arriola’s fitness and sharpness given him missing all but the final game of the season due to a torn ACL.
But Arriola looked in great shape for this game. While he was always able to handle the physical side of the game, Arriola looked like he had put on muscle during his time away. He also looked mobile and quick. Arriola sometimes struggles with his final ball in the attacking third but in this one, he was on but even when he struggles, he covers a ton of ground and can play defense at a high level.
In this game, Arriola played a lot of defense while also managing four shots during his 58 minutes. He won three duels while only losing one. He completed 21 out of 27 of his passes with 16/21 completed passes coming in the attacking half.
It was a good end to a brutal 2020 for Arriola.
Jackson Yueill, 23, can pass and distribute the ball well but how is his defense and can he handle the physical side of the game well? While El Salvador is a poor team, they tested Yueill in this one and the Minnesota native responded well. Over 90 minutes, he was fouled five times but won all four of his aerials and had a very high number of touches.
U.S. Soccer views the Olympics as very important and missing out on the last two Olympics were seen as big blows to the program. Yueill is going to be a big part of that U-23 qualifying team and if he plays like he did tonight, he could help get the team to Tokyo.
While Arriola, Mueller, and Aaronson stood out the most, Yueill’s numbers deserve more attention.
- 90 minutes
- 84 touches
- 84% passing (58/69)
- 6/11 accurate long balls
- 3 key passes
- 1 assist
- 9 duels won (2 lost)
- 4 aerials won (0 lost)
- 1 dribble
- 5x fouled
Aaronson looks ready for jump
Brenden Aaronson, 20, has played his last game for Philadelphia and in January he will head to Austria to play for Red Bull Salzburg. Before this game, Berhalter wanted to see Aaronson effectively run the attack for this team and carry over his strong play for Philadelphia into the national team.
In this game, Aaronson was effective as he scored a goal and was generally the chief playmaker in an advanced position.
- 90 minutes
- 57 touches
- 2 shots
- 1 goal
- 2 key passes
- 3 chances created
- 84% passing (33/39)
- 2 duels won (3 lost)
There should be plenty of reasons to be optimistic for Aaronson’s success next year in Austria – with Europa league games and another Austrian Bundesliga title hunt underway.
U.S. U-23 outlook
In total, 15 players on the roster were eligible for the U.S. U-23 team and with Olympic qualifying potentially happening in March, there is certainly an eye towards that team.
Three of the team’s four starting defenders were eligible for the U-23 team in central defender Mark McKenzie, right back Julian Araujo, and left back Sam Vines. In the midfield, Aaronson, Yueill, along with forward Ayo Akinola were also eligible for the Olympics although Aaronson’s involvement in qualifying is unlikely.
Off the bench, Djordje Mihailovic, Kyle Duncan, Marco Farfan, and Sebastian Soto were also eligible. In camp, Berhalter also got the chance to view Daryl Dike, Cole Bassett, Mauricio Pineda, and goalkeepers CJ Dos Santos, and JT Marcinkowski.
While the U.S. U-23 team has not had any camps yet since its qualifying tournament was postponed in March, this camp was a step towards preparing that team and Berhalter and U.S. U-23 head coach Jason Kreis should be pleased with what they saw from that team’s core.