Recap: Puerto Rico 1–3 USMNT

The US defeated Puerto Rico on Sunday in their first-ever meeting, 3–1, with road goals from Tim Ream, Bobby Wood, and Paul Arriola, but the best strike of the night surely belonged to Puerto Rico’s Luis Betancur, who scored a golazo against the run of play.

The game

The game began with a low-key atmosphere, the stadium not close to full. The US starting lineup contained its share of headscratchers, particularly Perry Kitchen playing wide on the right of a diamond midfield containing three defensive midfielders, with Alejandro Bedoya—a prototypical shuttler—playing as the No. 10. The result was an exceedingly narrow midfield, with all width provided by the fullbacks, DeAndre Yedlin and Tim Ream.

Despite the personnel oddities, the US dominated possession, approaching 80% at times, while failing to really trouble the PR goal. Until the 20th minute, that is, when the US broke through, via a wide fullback. Alfredo Morales hit a hard shot from well outside the box. The keeper parried it wide but was slow to get up and Ream followed it up, hitting a first time shot with his left foot into the far side netting. Ream learned yesterday that he would not be a part of the US Copa America roster, and his first career international goal may come as some comfort and validation.

In the 34th, the US doubled up. Danny Williams was dispossessed high up the field, Morales attempted a tackle, missing the ball and taking the man, but PR retained control of the ball and the referee waved play on. Puerto Rico drove all the way down the field until the US took the ball back just outside their own box. With two players down on the field, PR had some complaints about fouls, but the US didn’t put the ball out, breaking through Paul Arriola, making his first appearance for the US. Arriola held the ball well, then released Bobby Wood into the right side of the PR box, where he held off two defenders before calmly lifting the ball over the onrushing keeper. 17 goals in Germany this season, and Wood looks ever so composed.

But Puerto Rico would get a goal back before halftime, and in somewhat spectacular style. A muffed US throw gave the home team the ball just outside the US defensive third. The ball came in to their No. 10, Joseph Marrero, who played a pass first time to Luis Betancur. The Florida International University man took one touch to cushion the ball, then struck the ball on the half-volley with his next, sending it dipping over the stranded Brad Guzan. Betancur was given too much space, and Guzan was too far off his line, but in truth it was really just an excellent goal.

Puerto Rico had a couple of chances to level things up early in the second half, but failed to hit the target, and the US would restore its two-goal lead in the 56th. Bedoya carried the ball into the box and drove past a man to get to the endline, before sending a low cross to the back post, where Arriola poked it home.

The rest of the game was fairly uneventful, the most noteworthy occurrences the substitutions. Julian Green came on and looked dangerous, if a little lacking in end product, on the left side. Tim Howard was in goal for the whole of the second half, but had just one real save to make, from a long-distance grass-cutter. The US found themselves in increasingly dangerous positions as the half wore on, but failed to make the most of them, and the game finished 3–1.

US verdict

Bobby Wood looks good: He’s not a ready-made Jozy Altidore replacement, but he may be the best option the US has. Coming off an excellent season in the 2.Bundesliga, Wood looked confident and dangerous, and took his goal very well.

Yedlin looks like a real fullback: Yedlin played his most composed and structured game for the US. His play now seems more assured and purposeful, and playing in England has improved his technical capacities greatly. That’s all very good news for the US.

Three DMs? Really? The lineup was odd, even for Jurgen Klinsmann, and begs the question of just what he was trying to do by putting out the team he did. It worked, sort of, but would be disastrously uncreative against stronger opposition.

More like training than real preparation: This game was not exactly high-level prep for what’s to come, and both teams seemed to know it, but there are more games in the coming days that should provide tougher tests.

Final thoughts

Had Puerto Rico scored early in the second half and leveled the game, the feelings right now might be very different, but as it is, it’s hard to draw too many conclusions. This was a US team with too many B- and C-Teamers on it, set up in a way that didn’t allow for much creative play, and the game reflected that. When everyone else arrives tomorrow, the US can start really getting ready for the Copa, and Wednesday’s game versus Ecuador (7 pm, ESPN2, UniMas, UDN) should hopefully show a better version of what the US can do.


1-Brad Guzan (12-Tim Howard, 46); 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 14-Michael Orozco, 6-John Brooks (3-Matt Miazga, 46), 5-Tim Ream (16-Julian Green, 63); 15-Perry Kitchen (8-Emerson Hyndman, 46), 10-Danny Williams, 11-Alejandro Bedoya (capt.) (21-Eric Lichaj, 63), 9-Alfredo Morales; 7-Bobby Wood (19-Fabrice Picault, 71), 17-Paul Arriola
Subs Not Used: 4-Caleb Stanko, 13-Amando Moreno
Head coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

Puerto Rico
1-Matthew Sanchez; 22-Patrick Lopez (6-Alexis Rivera, 46), 2-Juan Velez, 8-Emmanuel D’Andrea (capt.), 4-Marcos Martinez; 7-Christopher Clark (5-Michael Fernandez, 58), 19-Jeremy Hall; 10-Joseph Marrero (11-David Caban, 85), 18-Jorge Rivera (21-Samuel Soto, 68), 15-Emanuel Sánchez (3-Darren Rios, 78), 17-Luis Betancur (16-Olvin Ortiz, 67)
Subs Not Used: 2-Elior Velez, 12-Christian Abreu, 13-Jose Arroyo, 20-Bryant Velazquez
Head coach: Jack Stefanowski

Scoring Summary
USA – Tim Ream – 20th minute
USA – Bobby Wood (Paul Arriola) – 34
PUR – Luis Betancur (Joseph Marrero) – 42
USA – Paul Arriola (Alejandro Bedoya) – 56

Disciplinary Summary

Stats Summary (USA / PUR)
Shots: 11 / 5
Shots on Goal: 8 / 4
Saves: 3 / 5
Corner Kicks: 2 / 0
Fouls: 4 / 2
Offside: 4 / 1

Referee: Kimball Ward (SKN)
Assistant Referee 1: Graeme Browne (SKN)
Assistant Referee 2: Ike Innis (SKN)
Fourth Official: Javier Santos (PUR)

Venue: Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium; Bayamón, Puerto Rico
Attendance: TBA


  1. “Perry Kitchen playing wide on the right in a diamond midfield of three defensive midfielders.”
    It is fair reasoning that at my peak…which was as a solid and totally unspectacular HDM- I could have held the fort against the likes of Puerto Rico… yet we have a midfield of defensive players against the 767th(?) ranked team in the world?
    Here’s my question… is Jurgen Klinsman doing this on purpose… is he kicking the bear to see what the bear will do?

    • i think you are giving klinsmann entirely too much credit. you are talking about a man whose idea of preparing his team was to bring in a motivational speaker to tear phone books in half

  2. There is no bear to kick. Just a bunch of frightened footballers trying not to annoy an irrational coach.

  3. Great One says:

    We are doomed so long as Beckerman and Wondo are still go to guys for JK. Nothing against either of them, but we are just standing still instead of moving forward. With the team selected, we are almost assured of a spine of Jones, Bradley, Dempsey and Wood. It just doesn’t excite me. We need explosive and creative wing players, here’s hoping Pulisic gets to play.
    Yellin looks much improved, so does Miazga even. Bedoya is steadfast as always.

  4. I liked the little I saw from Emerson Hyndman. Wynalda was right that he has the ability to get the ball out of his feet quickly and with composure – much like Nagbe. I think with a few of those more quick/technical players who want to be on the ball and take risks moving forward, we could be much more dangerous. Instead, we’re still stuck with the mindset of hiding and playing backwards hot-potato.

  5. Zizouisgod says:

    Considering that many of these players did not make the Copa roster, what exactly was the point of playing this match?

  6. Sean Doyle says:

    How ’bout a tip of the cap to Philadelphia native and Reading United alum Manolo Sanchez who made his international debut for Puerto Rico against the USMNT. Played well, though I would have liked to have seen him trouble Tim Howard a bit more on that cross

  7. Puerto Rico Is Not A Sovereign Nation says:

    Why does Puerto Rico have a national team? … (be advised the fact that England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have national teams, too, is not a rational answer)

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