USMNT – El Salvador: The United States men’s national team finished 2020 on a bright note, clobbering El Salvador 6-0 in Fort Lauderdale with an MLS-heavy roster on Wednesday.
Chris Mueller scored twice and added an assist on debut, while Brenden Aaronson, Paul Arriola, Ayo Akinola, and Sebastian Lletget also scored.
[ WATCH: Five first-half goals in 10 minutes, 26 seconds ]
Yes, three of the goals took marked deflections but there were three or four more that could’ve easily replaced those ones on a dominant day that only asked two saves out of Bill Hamid.
The Yanks only played four matches in 2020 thanks to the pandemic. They didn’t play anyone great but also didn’t lose. We’re here for that.
Feb. 1 — USMNT 1-0 Costa Rica
Nov. 12 — Wales 0-0 USMNT
Nov. 16 — USMNT 6-2 Panama (in Austria)
Wednesday — USMNT 6-0 El Salvador
[ MORE: USMNT player ratings ]
Three things we learned from USMNT – El Salvador
1. Don’t twist yourself into knots trying to downgrade this: The elephant in the room is easy to note, what with El Salvador not being a strong side to and playing on away soil in its first match in 10 months. But remember that this is the USMNT B-team — maybe even B-minus given who wasn’t called up last month amongst Europe-based players and Jordan Morris, Gyasi Zardes, and Cristian Roldan unavailable due to this weekend’s MLS Cup Final — and that we’re three years removed from the Yanks being clobbered by a similar nation’s B-side with nothing to play for in Trinidad and Tobago to ruin a World Cup cycle. So enjoy the match, especially the goal-splosion in the first half, and that Mueller, Aaronson, Lletget, and Arriola were far ahead of their CONCACAF opposition. MLS has grown leaps and bounds in 25 years and their men were on it.
2. Aaronson takes the next step: At the start of this camp, Berhalter praised Aaronson for growing on a weekly basis since the player’s first USMNT camp in January but said this match would be a chance to “validate” his well-earned move to Red Bull Salzburg and subsequent national team hype. Wolfsburg sporting director Marcel Schafer noted Aaronson when discussing American players in Europe and the youngster will get thee chance to play in the Europa League after American coach Jesse Marsch and Salzburg finished third in its Champions League group.
Capping off a great year, @AaronsonBrenden opens his #USMNT account!#USAvSLV pic.twitter.com/s30awtNqAV
— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) December 10, 2020
3. Feel-good goal for Arriola: Ten months removed from ACL surgery, Arriola was called up because Gregg Berhalter was worried that the half-hour of game action the midfielder saw for DC United at the end of the season would be all he’d see until whenever MLS is able to begin its 2021 season. His goal had everyone celebrating and kickstarted the five goals in under 11 minutes.
Man of the Match
Aaronson looked like he was ready to put the game on his back early but Mueller stole the show with fancy footwork and a brace. A current MLS man edges the future Salzburg man, and that’s fitting for the evening.
USMNT – El Salvador recap
The first shot of the game came from Darwin Ceren and forced a save out of Bill Hamid.
Paul Arriola led a rush the other way but his cross was cut out. Arriola and Aaronson combined moments later and the latter’s cross was dangerous and played out for a corner by El Salvador.
The Yanks kept finding success down the right, Araujo pushing forward and finding Aaronson for a shot blocked by the visitors.
Aaronson then flicked a ball into the heart of the 18 and Arriola’s drive toward it saw the ball bound off him and out for a goal kick.
Arriola put the U.S. ahead on a fine play from the left side. Chris Mueller drove into the box and got a little bit of luck as the ball came with him as he left over a sliding tackle.
Mueller’s pass was blocked into the space between Akinola and a left-rushing Arriola, the latter lashing a shot home for 1-0 in the 17th minute.
Mueller made it 2-0 when he led another rush onn the left, finding space inside the arc when Akinola’s shot was blocked out to Jackson Yueill. The San Jose man played it to Mueller, who called for it, and the Wisconsin graduate chopped a fake shot before rifling home.
The third goal was Lletget’s aided by a deflection off a sliding defender following Aaronson’s pass and a powerful dribble. The Yanks were simply too fast for their visitors.
Mueller’s second goal came off an Araujo cross, the Galaxy man give time and space to swoop a pass to the back post for a diving header goal from the Orlando City playmaker.
It was 5-0 in the 27th minute when Mueller deferred on a chance to score a hat trick, a long 1-2 with Aaronson going incomplete because Akinola darted between the two to slot inside the keeper’s left post.
Aaronson got his goal near the penalty spot when Lletget made a quick move and then a no-look cut pass to the Union (and soon to be Red Bull Salzburg) man.
A sleepy second half saw Araujo give the ball away in a terrible fashion to demand a save out of Hamid.