USMNT

Match report: St. Vincent and the Grenadines 0-6 USA

The US Men’s National Team took another step toward the 2018 World Cup in Russia with a commanding win over St. Vincent and the Grenadines at Arnos Vale Stadium in Kingstown, St. Vincent.

Bobby Wood opened the scoring with a gorgeous curler from the edge of the box, then Matt Besler tapped in from close range and Jozy Altidore blasted home when Wood earned a penalty to close out the first half.

The second half belonged to substitutes Sacha Kljestan and Christian Pulisic. Both entered in the 66th minute, and the former finished with a goal and two assists while the latter tallied twice and served one up himself.

First half

Jurgen Klinsmann continued to rely heavily on veterans, with Brad Guzan backstopping DeAndre Yedlin, Geoff Cameron, Matt Besler, and Kelyn Acosta. Fabian Johnson pushed into midfield across from Graham Zusi with Kyle Beckerman and Alejandro Bedoya holding down the center. Bobby Wood started up top next to Jozy Altidore.

The match started slowly on the rough turf at Arnos Vale Stadium. DeAndre Yedlin earned a 13th minute caution after he was beaten on a give-and-go up the US right. That seemed to wake the visitors, and Bedoya, Beckerman, and Altidore combined to find Zusi wide but his low cross behind the defense was cleared for a corner.

Bedoya tried his luck from distance two minutes later but skied the effort.

Yedlin exploded up the right a minute later, earning a yellow card on Emrald George.

In the 26th minute, a long St. Vincent free kick fell to Oalex Anderson just left of the goal frame. The Sounders youngster couldn’t push the ball past Guzan, who had surprisingly stayed in his goal on the original kick.

Two minutes later, the US finally got through the home defense. Altidore held off pressure just above the box and found Johnson to the left inside the eighteen. He tapped back for Wood who spun a superb effort into the far side netting for his seventh international goal.

In the 32nd minute, Altidore won a free kick 35 yards out and Zusi’s floated ball was partially cleared to a wide open Besler left of the St. Vincent goal. Besler took a touch and poked the ball past a stranded Lemus Christopher to double the US team’s lead.

Bobby Wood was involved again in the 42nd minute as he used two calm aerial touches to sprint past the defense. Roy Richards plowed through Wood as the striker looked to control the ball for a shot and the clear penalty was pounded home by Altidore.

Second half

St. Vincent came out strong in the second frame. A strong run down the US left in the 51st minute resulted in a cutback shot from a bad angle that was touched just in front of Guzan and prodded into the net. Fortunately for the Americans, St. Vincent was narrowly offsides on the initial shot.

In the 57th, a long cross from the US right was finished past Guzan, but once again the US was bailed out by the linesman’s flag. Though both offsides calls were correct, it was clear that lax pressure in midfield was allowing St. Vincent to generate dangerous chances in the US box.

The US responded through Bedoya, who began looking to push forward and connect passes around the edge of the home box. Though nothing came off, St. Vincent began targeting the Union man, culminating in Myron Samuel’s hard foul near the center circle. Bedoya bounced up and shook off the tough challenge.

In the 64th, Samuel was behind Cameron up the US right, but he couldn’t control the long throughball and Cameron caught him.

The US came back up the pitch with Altidore cutting inside from the left and lofting the ball to Zusi back post. The Kansas City man brought the ball down but saw his shot blocked away.

Sacha Kljestan and Christian Pulisic replaced Bedoya and Fabian Johnson.

In the 71st minute, the two substitutes combined brilliantly for the Americans’ fourth goal. Kljestan collected the ball on the right, cut back to his left and curled a ball behind the defense for Pulisic. The teenager’s first touch killed the ball at his feet, and his second coolly slotted past a stranded Christopher.

Jordan Morris immediately became the final sub, ending Altidore’s day.

Seven minutes later, Pulisic turned provider with a darting run through the left channel. He calmly centered for Kljestan, who separated from the defense in the middle and easily tapped in the Americans’ fifth. It was Kljestan’s first goal for the national team since 2010.

In the 82nd minute, Pulisic laid in Kljestan again. He passed up the chance to find Bobby Wood in the middle and blasted an effort into the side netting.

As the match wore down, Tevin Slater nearly got St. Vincent on the board with a low drive from the left that spun wide of Guzan’s goal.

Pulisic responded with his second of the match. Setting up at the top of the box, he collected a cutback pass from Kljestan, steadied himself, and curled the ball into the near post as pressure arrived.

The US can clinch the top spot in their group with a win over Trinidad and Tobago

General notes

  • The story of the match was the instant impact that Kljestan and Pulisic provided. Kljestan looked imperious in an attacking midfield role while Pulisic thrived in space through the left channel. Both players will play a big role in 2018 if they can emulate this showing against better squads. Pulisic in particular was irrepressible in a free role down the left.
  • The US eventually realized that they had the most success playing into the strikers’ feet and running off them. As this strategy developed, the chances started coming even as the fullbacks stayed home.
  • Wood’s finishing should be a bigger story. He continues to show that he can hit all the shots and use both his size and speed well.
  • Jozy Altidore imposed himself on the match without just looking to get on the end of everything. It was a continuation of his progress at Toronto as a hold up player.
  • Alejandro Bedoya looked to be in an attacking midfield role but ended up playing in more of a flat system next to Beckerman. He couldn’t quite connect the final pass, but he limited the home side’s ability to break out after US offensive pressure.
  • Graham Zusi’s set pieces had far too much air under them. Give it some power, big man!
St. Vincent/Grenadines United States
6 Shots 19
 2 Shots on Target 10
 4 Shots off Target 5
 0 Blocked Shots 4
 3 Corner Kicks  7
8 Crosses 17
5 Offsides 1
 18 Fouls 14
 3 Yellow Cards  1
 0 Red Cards  0
275 Total Passes 499
 70% Passing Accuracy 85%
 35.4% Possession 64.6%
 52 Duels Won 47
 53% Duels Won % 47%
 19 Tackles Won 15
 4 Saves 2
 21 Clearances 15

3 Comments

  1. el Pachyderm says:

    Looked to be close….

  2. On Pulisic’s first goal, he deftly controlled the ball with the outside of his right foot then quickly finished with his left. Tidy.

  3. With the results in Port of Spain, the US obviously can’t take any chances with an experimental lineup on Tuesday, even though Guatemala has a long way to go even if the US loses.
    .
    The interesting question is what sort of strategy should Guatemala adapt knowing that they not only need the US to lose but that they need to make up a 12 goal differential?

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