The United States men's national team defeated the Puerto Rico national team in the two countries' first ever meeting. On a hot and humid day in Bayamon, the Americans walked away with a 3-1 victory that will act as nothing more than a fitness exercise in preparation for this summer's packed schedule. The plucky Puerto Rico side didn't lay down easily and gave the U.S. a tough match for the most part.
The match got off to a bumpy start on a less than ideal playing surface. Both sides struggled to keep possession and to control their first touches. The U.S. controlled most of the early possession in the opening 15 minutes with short passing around the perimeter of the field, never really getting into dangerous positions.
Alfredo Morales created the first real chance of the match in the 20th minute with a long range shot that was parried away by the Puerto Rico goalkeeper right into the path of an advanced Tim Ream up from his left back spot. The Fulham defender deposited the rebound into the net for his first international goal to put the Americans up 1-0 for a deserved lead.
The hosts had several opportunities to hit on the counter attack, but couldn't make the most of them.
In the 32nd minute, Bobby Wood extended the lead to 2-0. Paul Arriola sent the newly-signed Hamburg man in on goal with a pass. Wood shrugged off a defender and flicked the ball over the diving goalkeeper for a lovely finish.
The two-goal advantage would only last for 10 minutes as Luis Betancur would pull a goal back for Puerto Rico in amazing fashion. A slipped through pass found the striker in a little space at the top of the box. He then flicked a delicately-placed shot into the top corner of the net past Guzan. A goal very much against the run of play that shocked everyone watching.
Just after the halftime break, Puerto Rico had a golden chance to equalize as a cross to the far post found a wide open Manolo Sanchez. However, his side-footed volley went millimeters wide of the post.
The U.S. finally reclaimed a foothold in the match ten minutes into the second half after a few scares and would regain their two-goal advantage. Paul Arriola would mark his senior team debut with a tap-in goal after Alejandro Bedoya squared a pass to him in front of goal. A day to surely remember for the Club Tijuana youngster with a goal and an assist in his first ever cap.
The pace of the match slowed dramatically with massive amount of substitutions on both sides with the U.S. maintaining most of the possession. Several chances would fall to the Yanks, but they were unable to really threaten the Puerto Ricans' goal.
Puerto Rico 1 - Betancur 42'
USA 3 - Ream 20' Wood 32' Arriola 55'
3 Quick Thoughts
- Despite the win, the U.S. conceded far too many chances to a very inexperienced team. The second half substitutions didn't help the formational discipline, but that's no excuse at this level.
- Bobby Wood looks ready to carry over his club form to the international level. His goal was really well taken.
- This was an audition for many of these young players. Paul Arriola stood out the most with his impressive goal and assist performance.
The USMNT will next play on Wednesday, May 25 in Frisco, Texas in a friendly against Ecuador. That match will be televised live on ESPN2 and UniMas at 8:00 p.m. ET.