USMNT – Jamaica: Sergino Dest and Brenden Aaronson continued the USMNT youth movement with goals in a 4-1 defeat of Jamaica in Austria on Thursday.
Sebastian Lletget scored twice in the late stages to salt away a decisive win for the USMNT, with Christian Pulisic playing 45 minutes and midfielders Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams missing the contest.
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Brenden Aaronson scored off a Josh Sargent feed as both players impressed, while Aaronson was joined as a super sub by Luca De La Torre and Nicholas Gioacchini.
Jamaica’s goal came from Swansea City’s Jamal Lowe, set up by debutant Andre Gray of Watford.
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The U.S. is off to Belfast for a Sunday afternoon match-up with Northern Ireland, hours before the U-23 men try to make the Olympics with a semifinal win in CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying.
Three things we learned from USMNT – Jamaica in Austria
1. Low block practice is good: Whether the Gold Cup or certain CONCACAF World Cup qualifying matches, you can bet this loaded USMNT will have to face more packed-in defenses than usual as opposing coaches respect what they’ve seen from Christian Pulisic, Giovanni Reyna, and company. That’s one of the reasons we’ve been discussing the importance of identifying the strikers or center forward who will drive the bus. Josh Sargent impressed in the first half and Jamaica barely threatened over 45 minutes aside from a poorly-taken breakaway chance.
2. Aaronson announces himself (again): The last time we saw Brenden Aaronson in this space, it was celebrating his “taking the next step” as he plucked a goal and an assist in a 6-0 win over El Salvador before leaving MLS for Austria. Aaronson has three goals and two assists in his first 1000 minutes for Jesse Marsch at Salzburg. Playing in his new home country on Thursday, Aaronson subbed into the game and delivered the goods against Jamaica.
Philadelphia Union fans have been preparing national team fans and European audiences for Brenden Aaronson, and Berhalter’s first ever January “Huh?” call-up continues to deliver rewards to the USMNT coach. Aaronson should’ve had an assist with an incisive through ball of the highest order that Giovanni Reyna failed to pot before scoring two minutes (or fewer) later off a neat bit of work from Josh Sargent.
3. Reyna could use a break: Giovanni Reyna is a no-doubter of a prospect who has achieved more In his first 18 years and 4.5 months on this earth than many players do in a career, but the Borussia Dortmund starlet deserves a month to recharge his batteries. Reyna has played 2100 minutes for BVB this season after going 1800 minutes between the club’s U-19s and senior team in his age 17 season, also adding a U17 World Cup into the mix. A lot of players would love a breather given the pandemic-congested season, but this particular 18-year-old deserves to chill out for a bit.
Man of the Match: Sergino Dest
Dest’s phenomenal first senior goal for the U.S. was joined by some flicks, tricks, and — yes — even defensive work from the left back.
“I really enjoyed it,” Dest said. “It’s my first goal for the U.S. but I’m also really happy with the win.”
USMNT – Jamaica recap
The USMNT controlled play early but it was sloppy as the Yanks played with the same unfamiliar nature as the much-changed Reggae Boyz.
Reyna slipped Josh Sargent into the box and the Werder Bremen striker saw his shot blocked out for a corner, which led to another.
Theodore Whitmore, understandably, had his team in a low block, pushing out to get in the way of crosses from the left and right.
Pulisic cued up Sebastian Lletget in the 20th minute, but the LA Galaxy man’s shot was wide of the frame.
Aaronson replaced Pulisic at the break and almost immediately hit the pass of the game so far with an inch-perfect incisive through ball that saw Reyna take a touch too many.
Moments later, Sargent — who was quite good — chopped a pass to the Red Bull Salzburg midfielder for 2-0.
Three Americans were victimized as Jamaica pulled within 2-1 on a counterattack in the 70th minute, Reggie Cannon nutmegged by an Andre Gray pass as Kellyn Acosta did not have his lane filled and Chris Richards failed to stay with Lowe.
But the Yanks restored order when a blocked entry pass came to Luca de la Torres about 30 yards outside the box. The ex-Fulham man spotted Nicholas Gioacchini, and Cannon’s overlapping run kept the defense on alert as Gioacchini spotted Lletget for a near-post finish.
Acosta played a role in that goal and then again in the fourth, chesting the ball to De La Torre for a surging run into the box and square pass to Lletget for 4-1.