USNT Recap

Match report: United States 3-0 Bolivia

Photo: Nick Fishman

It was a celebration of patriotism and a perhaps bright future, as a youthful United States national side thrashed Bolivia 3-0  Memorial Day evening at Talen Energy Stadium.

For 90 minutes at least, the fresh faces of America’s next generation offered a reprieve from the bitter reality of a World Cup with the United States of America. Three U.S. players scored their first goals for country rather than club and Christian Pulisic made a return to the state he called home.

Center back Walker Zimmerman opened the scoring with a header on midfielder Joe Corona’s first half corner kick. Forward Josh Sargent and winger Tim Weah added their own goals in the second half to seal a stellar performance from the two teenage sensations.

The match was a homecoming for Hershey, Pa.’s favorite citizen. The teenage talisman is the face and future of the U.S. national team. While it was his first time representing his country in Philadelphia, it wasn’t his first time facing Bolivia. Pulisic scored his first international goal in a 4-0 rout over La Verde during the 2016 Copa America Centenario, becoming the youngest goalscorer in U.S. history.

Youth was the defining motif in this U.S. camp. The average age of the 22 players was just over 22 years of age. “As I’ve talked about throughout this process, the theme is to offer opportunity to this younger generation,” said U.S. interim manager Dave Sarachan before the friendly. “We’re going into the Bolivia game with newer faces along with a few familiar players as well.”

Sarachan wasn’t joking about the new faces.

Six players made their senior debut, including Manchester City center back Erik Palmer-Brown and the 18-year-old Sargent– who was the starting sole striker at the top of the U.S.’s 4-1-4-1 formation.

More interestingly, four teenagers featured in the starting 11. Besides the aforementioned Pulisic and Sargent, heralded Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie sat just above the back line and Paris St. Germain attacker Tim Weah flanked wide right.

The U.S. started strong after the opening whistle. A clinical defensive challenge from Zimmerman, one of two MLS players in the squad, sprung a quick counter for the home team in the 10th minute. Winger Rubio Rubin collected the ball in the center circle and played to the feet of a streaking Weah. Alone behind the defense, the son of Liberian president and former FIFA player of the year George Weah, couldn’t beat onrushing goalkeeper Guillermo Vizcarra.

Despite heavy pressure, the U.S. couldn’t crack the Bolivian back line until the 37th minute. On their seventh corner of the first half, Zimmerman rose high and powerfully headed home his first international goal.

It didn’t take long for the Stars and Stripes to double that lead in the second half.

Bolivia switched goalkeepers at the restart, bringing on Carlos Lampe.  With 15 caps, the 31-year-old was the most experienced player on La Verde’s roster. In the 52nd minute, though, he had one hell of a howler.

Lampe, with no real pressure, tried to chip a ball over the head of Sargent to his right back. He didn’t put nearly enough on the attempt, and Sargent was able to intercept the errant pass, free and clear to turn his attention toward net. Lampe was able to get a piece of the one-time strike, but couldn’t keep the Werder Bremen product from finding his first international tally.

Seven minutes later the U.S. increased their advantage to three.

Left back Antonee Robinson, who plays his club soccer for Everton, was filthy in Bolivia’s final third. After embarrassing a would-be defender, Robinson centered a cross into  the box. At the receiving end was Weah, who was clinical with a first touch finish past a helpless Lampe.

The U.S. coasted the rest of the way, and the American Outlaws, who took up residence in the River End, sang and dreamt of what this collection of talented youngsters might offer in the future.

Three points
  • Weah too early, but… This was everything fans of the U.S. could have asked for from this game. Tim Weah and Josh Sargent were legitimately scary going forward. These two, along with McKennie, will make sure Pulisic won’t have to do all the heavy lifting going forward.
  • Speaking of Pulisic… It was a shame Pulisic couldn’t be the hometown hero with a goal, but that fact that he was overshadowed by his fellow attackers is a testament to their performance. Pulisic wasn’t at his best, but what more could you expect from a teenager who spent the past week being flown around the world.
  • The next step… It was a brief respite from the World Cup failure, but it was hard to ignore it completely. With another report stating Union sporting director Earnie Stewart could be announced as the USMNT general manager in the coming days, you have to ask “what’s next?” First step in answering that question is finding the right coach to lead this team forward.
Lineups

United States

Alex Bono; Eric Lichaj (Matthew Olosunde 74′) Walker Zimmerman, Erik Palmer-Brown, Antonee Robinson; Weston McKennie; Tim Weah (Julian Green 61′), Joe Corona (Keaton Parks 61′), Christian Pulisic (Jorge Villafana 89′), Rubio Rubin (Lynden Gooch 73′); Josh Sargent (Andrija Novakovich 61′)

Bolivia

Guillermo Vizcarra (Carlos Lampe HT); Carlos Añez, Oscar Baldomar (Sagredo 32′), Ronald Raldes; Danny Bejarano (Leandro Maygua 79′), Fernando Saucedo, Alexis Ribera (Rodrigo Rodriguez 77′; Luis Ali, Rodrigo Vargas (Bruno Miranda 63′), Hector Ronaldo Sanchez (Leonardo Vaca 66′)

Scoring summary

USA: Walker Zimmerman – 37′ (Joe Corona)
USA: Josh Sargent – 52′
USA: Tim Weah – 59′ (Antonee Robinson)

Disciplinary summary

BOL: Fernando Saucedo – 49′ (unsporting behavior)
USA: Joe Corona – 56′ (unsporting behavior)
USA: Weston McKennie – 65′ (unsporting behavior)

14 Comments

  1. Phil in Wilmington says:

    Lots to like from yesterday’s friendly. I can’t remember the last time the USMNT could threaten from multiple players from the wings on a regular basis….

    Antonee Robinson is such an exciting prospect. Calm on defense, and a true world class setup for Weah’s finish… who was a handful all night long.

    Watching from section 117, it was also nice to see Julian Green generating many offensive chances through breaks with the ball at his feet or dangerous passes into the box. It would be nice to see more of that in future matches for club and country. Also great to see Matt Olasunde take the field and Lynden Gooch’s energy as a sub.

    Yes I’m still angry about not going to Russia, but last night went a long way toward making me feel better about things.

  2. Enjoyable to watch, despite the weak competition. One thing that I found most instructive, if you can get anything like that from this game, was seeing how a lone striker can work, with four midfielders to support him. Rarely was there a situation like we Union fans regularly see Sapong facing, with the entire back line collapsing on him. Instead, the multiple other options for the ball required the Bolivians to play an honest shape, since that ball could be cycled back around so quickly.

  3. Sat in the corner at Talen to get a great view of Josh Sargent’s goal celebration. Had to go back and watch a recap to understand what I’d seen after he pulled that poor pass from the keeper out of the air and turned it on him. Best goal was Tim Weah. What a player he is.

    One weird observation — and I’d be interested to know if anyone else saw this — I’m not sure what the squad has against Novakovich. He was consistently getting open, making good runs and no one would get the ball to him. Now he did seem prone to getting himself offside, but there were at least half a dozen clear opportunities when it looked like he was running plays that only he was aware of. Or that he was completely invisible.

  4. Getting offside may mean he is playing on the opportunistic edge like Inzaghi used to do. But your observation on getting the ball seems right on. The USA midfield was just so-so. Too much holding on to the ball and rushing forward rather than looking to spring people loose as you mentioned. Young players are apt to hold the ball too long sometimes which can be less of a problem up front, but youth in midfield can cause distribution problems. Pulisic looked exhausted, so he did not help the situation much either.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Excellent call.
      .
      I also think to a degree Julian was too interested in getting off a shot then combine or deliver final ball.

  5. el Pachyderm says:

    the play wasn’t exceptional but it felt new so that’s good.
    .
    a lot to like about the midfielder from Schalke.
    .

    • yeah, he plays like an irresistible force back there. In general , there is a lot to like. Sargent could be a US version of Kane.

  6. I was there, watching from the River End.
    .
    Bottom line, the game was fun to watch. These kids can play, even if Bolivia was just … bad. Crisp, accurate passes; players taking shots…and a great atmosphere.
    .
    I will say that Tim Weah needs to pick his head up. I watched him gather a long pass and cross while near the goal line…he never looked up – never took his eyes off the ball to see that no one was where he was going to pass the ball.
    .

    • Agree on Weah. Pointed out a time he did that to my son in the first half. Received the ball and blasted it toward’s goal without ever looking up. Defender was mid-air right in front of him. If he’d settled the ball and waited for the defender to jump past him, he’d have had an open goal.

    • If anything, though, I get frustrated at ‘pros’ that keep picking their head UP when shooting at goal. Watch your goal on YouTube. Get your body and planting foot placed properly for better control over the ball so you’re not scooping from behind it and keep your head down for the driving shot. Pick your head up on the shot, and you’re watching a field goal or a high shank. Same physics in golf, batting in baseball, etc…you’ll just sky and shank it. It’s little stuff like this where coaching and discipline gets lost all too often, especially at the MLS level.

  7. I liked what I saw at the match. Yeah, Bolivia brought a B team, but the US lads seems talented, especially by playing at the higher levels abroad.
    Given the Olympic and WC flops, I’m only interested in a ’10 Year Plan’ like Germany did to build from scratch.

    I’m not just interested in qualifying anymore for competitive tournaments (which should be expected, not celebrated) but setting the benchmark on placing in them.

    Klinsy was correct about that. Half-measures in setting benchmarks and taking friendlies and qualifying matches for granted (the Tortoise and the Hare story) allowed the slack that even led to failing to qualify at all.

    Focusing on the young also prevents defections like Jonathan Gonzalez given our current predicaments. We lost a talented kid that wanted to play for us because Mexico pursued him with senior cap offers whilst we slept at the wheel. The kid wanted to play…don’t blame him. You snooze, you lose. That was another own goal by us. No más.

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