Uruguay

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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.

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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.

LIVE – USMNT v. Uruguay in St. Louis

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Here goes something.

The United States men’s national team gets off the mat on Tuesday after a terrible performance against rivals Mexico, and will be leaning on an inexperienced team against Uruguay in St. Louis on Tuesday.

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Teenagers Sergino Dest and Josh Sargent gets starts, which will excite many who expected Gregg Berhalter to trot out Gyasi Zardes and Nick Lima or Daniel Lovitz.

Fulham back Tim Ream will captain the squad, with veteran Brad Guzan between the sticks. Aaron Long will partner with Ream in the heart of the defense, with Reggie Cannon on the other side of the pitch from Dest.

An all-MLS midfield of Cristian Roldan, Sebastian Lletget, and Jackson Yueill sits behind (seemingly) an attacking three of Tyler Boyd, Jordan Morris, and Sargent.

Boyd could be playing wide mid, with Lletget or Roldan on the other side, in a 4-man midfield, but that seems unlikely.

Young center back Miles Robinson, teen midfielder Paxton Pomykal, and goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez all miss out on chances of first USMNT caps.

Rodrigo Betancur, Matias Vecino, and Jose Maria Gimenez start for Uruguay, who is without Diego Godin, Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani, Cristhian Stuani, Carlos Sanchez, and Nicolas Lodeiro.

Preview: USMNT v. Uruguay

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Gregg Berhalter is set for his second competitive quest as head coach of the U.S. men’s national team, the CONCACAF Nations League, but not until after the Yanks wrap up the year’s schedule of friendlies on Tuesday.

[ MORE: How will USMNT line up against Uruguay? ]

The USMNT heads into its clash with no. 5-ranked Uruguay (8 p.m. ET) at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Mo., still licking its wounds following a 3-0 beatdown by rivals Mexico on Friday. That result came on the heels of a 1-0 defeat to El Tri in the Gold Cup final back in July.

 

Berhalter has guided the Yanks to first-team victories over Ecuador, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Panama, Curacao and Jamaica (FIFA rankings’ highest-ranked at no. 52 in the world) in 2019; the back-to-back defeats by Mexico are accompanied by losses to Jamaica and Venezuela; a draw with Chile brings Berhalter’s first-team record to 6W-4L-1D.

Uruguay, on the other hand, hasn’t lost a non-penalty shootout result in 2019. Only Peru, in the Copa America quarterfinals, was ale to defeat La Celeste in their eight games this year.

 

[ MORE: U.S. Soccer CEO Dan Flynn to retire this month ]

St. Louis native Josh Sargent could be in line for his second start of 2019. The 19-year-old Werder Bremen forward had the USMNT’s best scoring chance against Mexico, but saw his penalty kick saved by Jonathan Orozco in the 88th minute.

A number of European-based players, including Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, John Brooks and Zack Steffen, departed USMNT camp following Friday’s game. Sargent, alongside Tyler Boyd, Sergiño Dest and Tim Ream, remained in camp.

The October international window will see the USMNT take on Cuba (Oct. 11) and Canada (Oct. 15) in Nations League A. Each of the four group winners will advance to the semifinal knockout round.

How will USMNT line up against Uruguay?

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After winning eight of his first 11 matches in charge of the United States, things have suddenly turned sour, and in a hurry.

Back-to-back losses to arch-rivals Mexico in which the USMNT was thoroughly dominated have left the fanbase searching for answers and reasons to hope for the future. The damage done in those two matches – a Gold Cup final and a friendly just days ago – will take some time to undo, proving the United States still has acres of ground to cover before seriously competing with not just the big boys in CONCACAF but the world.

Still, steps can be taken as the United States meets Uruguay in St. Louis. The world’s fifth-ranked national team arrives with a full strength squad, and while not all the stars will play for the visitors, it will provide another stiff test for the USMNT to measure itself against some of the best teams in the world.

Unfortunately for the home side licking its wounds after the disappointing Mexico performance, a number of players have returned to their club for a few extra days rest, treatment, and training. Christian Pulisic, chief among them, has returned to Chelsea as he continues to fight for consistent playing time with the Blues as staying with the national team would have created a potentially harmful short turnaround for a player who has far to travel. The 20-year-old saw some criticism for a rare poor performance against Mexico, although he still showed flashes of his brilliant self in what few attacking moments the United States had. Also leaving the squad are Alfredo Morales, John Brooks, Sean Johnson, Weston McKennie, and Zack Steffen.

The departure of Morales is unfortunate, as he was one of the few bright spots against Mexico over the weekend. McKennie still has plenty of growing up to do, and another 90 minutes with the national team against a top opponent would have done him a world of good, so his departure is also a bummer. The health of Brooks is probably more important than more playing time at this point as the defender looks towards a full fall and winter with Wolfsburg, while Steffen is not off to the greatest of starts at Fortuna Dusseldorf.

So, that leaves Berhalter to scrap together a competitive starting lineup that will not only be up to the task against Uruguay, but also provide the right players valuable minutes moving forward. How will he put together a lineup and substitution play against the South American giants?

Possible USMNT lineup v. Uruguay:

— Guzan —

— Cannon — Robinson — Long — Ream —

— Trapp — Pomykal —

 — Morris — Roldan — Lletget —

— Sargent —

It’s tough for fans – and admittedly, writers – to separate what we want to see in a lineup and what we think the head coach will do. The biggest glaring miss here from the lineup is Sergino Dest, who was occasionally sloppy but also occasionally brilliant in his USMNT debut, and while he got the start against an arch rival and could benefit not only from more experience as well as more loyalty shown as he decides who to represent between the U.S. and the Netherlands, it’s unlikely Berhalter throws him on for another start against a world power. To be honest, it’s a bit surprising he’s still with the squad and didn’t depart along with the other European-based players. With Ajax returning to club action on Saturday, it’s hard to see Berhalter overworking the 18-year-old by starting him in a second straight friendly.

It would also be great to get Jesse Gonzalez some time in goal, but with so many other young players set to see time in this match, it’s more likely that Berhalter sticks with veteran Brad Guzan who can help lead and allow Berhalter to sacrifice experience in other areas. Same goes for Tim Ream who will once again deputize at left-back in Dest’s absence. Reggie Cannon has earned another start after showing well over the weekend. This seems a good time to hand Miles Robinson his full debut as Walker Zimmerman got the start against Mexico and struggled, and with Guzan behind him and Aaron Long next to him, Robinson will be well supported.

In midfield, we could see Paxton Pomykal on his USMNT debut as well, and it will be interesting to see where Berhalter utilizes the 19-year-old. He has seen an offensive-minded push at FC Dallas, but could sit deeper with the United States, still able to get forward at times with Trapp covering the space. Corey Baird could see time on the wing, but Jordan Morris is the more likely option on the wing to help Josh Sargent up front who gets a look after adding a spark off the bench against Mexico. It’s fully believable that Berhalter could once again turn to his infatuation with Gyasi Zardes, but that would be disappointing and harsh on Sargent.