Brian Rodriguez

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Three things from USMNT 1-1 Uruguay

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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.

[ MORE: Match recap | Player ratings ]

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?

USMNT draws Uruguay on late Morris goal

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Jordan Morris’ late goal rescued a draw for the United States men’s national team in a 1-1 draw against Uruguay which saw two B teams hoping to make an impression on their coaches.

LAFC young star Brian Rodriguez got his first goal on U.S. soil with a sensational marker to give the CONMEBOL giants a lead. No. 5 ranked La Celeste was without surnames Suarez, Godin, Cavani, and Stuani, while the U.S. was without Pulisic, Brooks, McKennie, and Adams.

The Morris goal was the Yanks’ first since the Gold Cup semifinal, the Yanks twice blanked by Mexico in between the markers.

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The first two dangers moments came through Uruguay, the final ball bungled by the visitors after a counter down the right before a counter down the left also came up short.

Sebastian Lletget crossed well for Cristian Roldan, but the Sounders midfielder saw his header saved by Fernando Muslera.

If Uruguay’s first chance should’ve been 1-0, then Tyler Boyd’s 22nd minute miss would’ve been 1-1. Jordan Morris spun a pretty cross toward the back post, but Boyd couldn’t get enough purchase and hit off the bottom of the bar from inside the six.

Hometown center back Tim Ream made an incredible block a minute later when Brad Guzan spilled a ball toward the penalty spot.

And Uruguay should’ve conceded a penalty when Jose Gimenez handled a cross while contending a 50/50 against Josh Sargent.

Mostly, though, the first half was a snooze. It slowed down considerably after some early excitement.

That changed early in the second half, as the USMNT was slow to react to a turnover in possession. Uruguay tore down the field with little resistance, and Rodriguez absolutely cooked Aaron Long before sending a rocket past Guzan.

Muslera made a fine save on a Morris header as Boyd spun a cross to the back post in the 58th.

The Yanks made some subs, and one of them had a funny role in the goal. While Ream and Roldan made incisive passes to set up Nick Lima, the San Jose defender saw his block crossed and then a clearance turn off of him and onto the path of Morris for a body goal.

Report: LAFC on the verge of $11.5 million transfer signing

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Los Angeles FC seems to believe it has found the next Diego Rossi, and it didn’t have to look far from the source.

According to major Uruguayan newspaper El Observador, LAFC has acquired 19-year-old winger Brian Rodriguez from Uruguayan giant Penarol with an $11.5 million transfer fee. Rodriguez made his debut for Penarol in March 2018 and has, in the last two years, become an integral part of the squad that won the most recent Uruguayan league title. In 23 games, according to the report, Rodriguez has scored three goals.

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The report states that Rodriguez will play Penarol’s Copa Sudamericana match against Flamengo at Rio de Janeiro’s famous Maracana Stadium on Wednesday before departing for the U.S. to complete the transfer.

In addition to his work at the club level, Rodriguez was identified at a young age by the Uruguayan National Team and has been a key member of both the Under-17 and Under-20 Men’s National Teams. Rodriguez played four times for Uruguay at the recent FIFA Under-20 World Cup, scoring a pair of goals. Uruguay’s U-20 program is what grooms all its players for senior level, and teammate Bruno Mendez has already gotten a pair of caps for the senior team now, just age 19 himself.

For LAFC, it’s quite a bit of money to spend on a young, unproven player, but they’re clearly rolling the dice on a player they think can help bring the club a title this year and beyond.

U-20 WC roundup: Uruguay out-duels New Zealand; Ukraine takes Group D

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On a day where the United States’ biggest name scored a decisive goal and Honduras conceded all but three of 12 goals to a lone Norwegian, the U-20 World Cup in Poland still managed two other entertaining contests.

[ MORE: Weah leads U.S. win | Norwegian bags 9 ]


Nigeria 1-1 Ukraine

Danylo Sikan’s early goal looked set to give Ukraine a perfect nine-point group stage, but Muhamed Tijani’s 51st minute penalty gave the Super Eagles a share of the points.

Ukraine wins Group D and will avoid mighty France in the Round of 16, while Nigeria will finish third in the group and could face Senegal or Italy next.

New Zealand 0-2 Uruguay

Darwin Nunes scored a point-blank goal before halftime and Brian Rodriguez ensured the result deep in stoppage time as Uruguay won Group C by topping the previously-perfect Kiwis.

Uruguay will meet the third place team from Group A, B, or F. The winner of that match would be the United States’ quarterfinal opponent should the Americans knock off France or Mali in the Round of 16.

New Zealand meets Colombia on June 2 in Lodz.