Off the back of their thrilling 3-2 Nations League final victory, the US Men finished off their pseudo-World-Cup-Qualifying sequence with a dominant 4-0 win over CONCACAF rivals Costa Rica. Perhaps most impressive was that this performance came from a B-team of sorts, with 9 of the 11 starters from Sunday’s win over Mexico sitting on the bench.
The gruelling 11-day, 4-game sequence came to a close in a way Berhalter’s men should be proud of. Despite Costa Rica missing some of their best players, it still was no easy task for the US to find the motivation to perform fresh off the back of a physically and mentally exhausting final on Sunday. Berhalter deployed a lineup with an average age of 23.8 that was largely padded by a 33-year-old Tim Ream. The group totalled just 155 caps, again padded by Tim Ream’s 45, for an average of just 14.
As seems to be the case in every match nowadays, the young guns put on a show. 20-year-old Daryl Dike marked his 3rd cap with his first career international goal, slotting it home after a brilliant through ball from Mark Mckenzie. Dike, however, was not the only first time scorer on the night. Right back Reggie Cannon also notched his first goal for the US, winning the ball high up the pitch, beating a defender with a subtle yet brilliant move, and tucking it home with his left foot. The scoring was opened early by Brenden Aaronson (who’s been dubbed the “Medford Messi,” by the way), who arrived late to smash home after Daryl Dike’s initial effort was blocked.
It has been a very long time since what was mostly a 2nd-choice US side was this exciting. It may not seem like a big deal, but quality depth is extremely important for those jam-packed World Cup qualifying windows coming up in the fall. What’s even better is that most of these guys are just scratching the surface in their young careers.
US Men Player ratings
Ethan Horvath, 6: It was a quiet day for Horvath. Costa Rica didn’t have many chances, so he wasn’t asked to do all that much. A quiet day is not a bad one!
Reggie Cannon, 7: Cannon had a nice day after a couple of rough performances earlier in this camp. He was solid defensively, closing down attackers and sweeping up long balls. He looked comfortable and in control, and capped it off with a wonderful first international goal.
Mark Mckenzie, 7: I’ve been greatly impressed by Mckenzie on and off the field. He started all 4 matches and looked solid in all 4 aside from a few mistakes against Mexico. He received some horrible, inexcusable racial abuse on social media following the Mexico match and handled it incredibly well, then came out and performed well yet again. He topped it all off with a wonderful assist.
Tim Ream, 6.5: His best performance of this camp by a wide margin. He was mostly tidy in possession and didn’t get beat defensively. He wasn’t asked to do much, but he did what he had to and delivered a solid 90.
Antonee Robinson, 6.5: I thought Robinson should’ve started the final but I forgive Gregg because of the result. He came out and performed well against Costa Rica despite the disappointment of not playing in the final. He got forward early and often, creating the first goal with a low ball into Dike, and he likely should’ve had an assist or two.
Yunus Musah, 7: It pains me not to rate him even higher. You see the ability he has every time he touches the ball; his dribbling is so smooth and he looks so comfortable for an 18-year-old. He was brilliant defensively as well–I truly think he can start anywhere in midfield. If he finishes his chance, I’d have to give him the man of the match. We have another star on our hands.
Tyler Adams, 7.5: Analysts have been saying he’s our most important piece for years and I might have to agree. While much of what he does won’t pop out on the stat sheet, his presence calms everyone else down. He was a rock in midfield yet again, winning the ball back and distributing it brilliantly. He makes this team tick.
Sebastian Lletget, 6.5: Much like Ream, he didn’t stand out but he did what was asked of him. He worked hard and found space going forward. The midfield never seemed unbalanced largely because of his positioning. A solid day to end a good camp for him.
Tim Weah, 7: This might be slightly biased but I just can’t help it. His game is so energetic and so fun to watch. He nearly got his goal in the first half, but even without it, I thought he was great. He tracks back well, works hard, and there’s so much flair in those boots. Every touch is electric.
Daryl Dike, 7: We have a 3-way competition brewing, folks. Dike showed an ability I didn’t necessarily expect: he ran off the last defender really well. He beat the offside trap for his goal, and also showed that overwhelming physical strength with some nice hold-up play. He’s firmly in the mix for the starting job.
Brenden Aaronson, 8: Medford Messi is right (I mean, check out this dribbling masterclass)! Aaronson’s work rate and technical ability have both grown so much in the past year. He’s played his way into a spot on every roster going forward. He was great in possession, his dribbling was superb all night, and he was in the right place at the right time to smash home his 3rd international goal–his 6th goal contribution in 7 caps.
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