The United States men’s national team rallied for a late goal, its first in 262 minutes, to save Gregg Berhalter’s program the blushes that would’ve come with losing to Mexico’s A-minus and Uruguay’s B team in successive weeks.
The Yanks struggled for large swaths of the 1-1 draw, but did have some bright showings from some veteran players and a Uruguayan teen who is going to give MLS defenses a lot of problems on LAFC’s run towards an MLS Cup.
Rodriguez shows DP credentials as Long struggles for 2nd-straight match
Brian Rodriguez is new to LAFC, the club who seemingly cannot stop signing excellent young talent, but his first goal on American soil was not in MLS play.
A lightning quick counter sent the 19-year-old 1v1 with Aaron Long, and Rodriguez sent the New York Red Bulls center back out for beer and peanuts.
Long’s mauling style at center back has been his strength, and helped shoot him up the USMNT pecking order and even had him sought by West Ham United.
But Long was also cooked on a transition goal against Mexico in addition to being slow to react to Tecatito’s roasting of Sergino Dest on El Tri’s first goal.
The Red Bulls man’s passing numbers are poor in MLS, and he’s not a possession-first player. He’s there to bail his team out through tackling and win balls. Neither happened too often this international break.
Poor field plus second-choice players leads to devalued product
The U.S. Soccer Federation cannot control whether Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez report for Uruguay duty when they announce that the CONMEBOL side is coming to St. Louis, and it has only a little bit more say whether Christian Pulisic, Zack Steffen, and Weston McKennie stick around for both matches of a break.
What the more than half-empty — at least from the television camera side — tells us about this friendly is that fans weren’t clamoring to head a baseball field despite two St. Louis-born players in the team.
You have to wonder what slipping all over a turf-covered baseball field might say to Sergino Dest, a dual national used to playing on pristine surfaces in Europe with Ajax.
Was this the last time we’ll ever see the well-decorated youth international in a USMNT shirt? Regardless of whether the questionable nature of playing on a goofy pitch plays in the role, it would be an odd subplot of an uneasy international break.
And more basic than Dest’s feelings, the product was crap in those areas of the field. Maybe we just need our own Wembley in Kansas City, as was once discussed.
- That said, what a great moment for Josh Sargent in his hometown
Before Josh Sargent was getting minutes at center forward as a teenager at Werder Bremen, he was a phenom playing ball in St. Louis.
As John Strong said on the broadcast, this field was where Sargent saw dozens of Cardinals games growing up.
Still a teenager for four months, Sargent was at the heart of what should’ve been a penalty against Jose Maria Gimenez for handball. He dropped well into the hear of the midfield to help in possession, and ran his shorts off (expected of a youngster, but not always observed).
Morris, Ream, Roldan rewarded with roles on late equalizer
There weren’t many stars for the USMNT on Tuesday, but the three brightest Americans all helped produce the goal to tie the score.
It took some luck — a fourth player, Nick Lima, had one cross blocked and got an assist when a ball deflected off him — but Ream’s spotting of Cristian Roldan got the ball to Lima, and Morris built on a solid sub role on Friday with a body goal at the back post.
Roldan had probably his best game in a USMNT shirt, and perhaps it’s no coincidence that the Seattle midfielder’s job was based more on industry and energy than acute passes and playmaking.
In any event, he was good. Ream was very decent at center back when he wasn’t passing sideways (for whatever reason, he was inaccurate with those but not the tougher balls into the thick of Uruguay). And Morris is clearly back to the confidence and form we saw when he was a surprise call-up out of Stanford. A nice moment.
And is Ream the easy third-choice center back behind John Brooks and Matt Miazga? Or is he possibly No. 2?