After failing to secure eight points in the first three games, the United States Men’s National Team was back in action for World Cup qualifying once again. Looking for their first win at home this cycle, the team would struggle to create much in a first half that was highlighted by some questionable officiating but put together a great second half. A pair of goals from Ricardo Pepi would deliver three points in what ended up being a fairly easy victory for the USA.
The lineups gave us something of a surprise as Paul Arriola got the start on the right wing and Walker Zimmerman took up a spot next to Miles Robinson on the backline.
3 Points at Home. Let's get it.— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) October 7, 2021
Lineup Notes: https://t.co/hsMAUByxW3#OnlyForward #SoloPaLante pic.twitter.com/crw0vrJZmg
As for the Reggae Boyz, they set up in a 4-2-3-1 with a lineup featuring players plying their trade in MLS, various Clubs in England or elsewhere in Europe and the Jamaica domestic league.
Let’s go Boyz!— Official J.F.F (@jff_football) October 7, 2021
.#QatarMotivated #ReggaeBoyz #USAvJAM #WorldCupQualifiers #JourneyToQatar #RoadToQatar2022 #JFF_Football pic.twitter.com/7CYk3U6W2U
Gifs of... not a player getting a red in the first minute
It’s rough to start a recap with - Kemar Lawrence got a yellow in the first minute that should have been a red, but this is Concacaf so here we are.
The first half mostly saw the US controlling things and keeping pressure on Jamaica. The team in yellow was content to sit back and let the Stars and Stripes try to figure out how to break them down and then take a chance on a counter here and there. Through the first half hour, the US just had one shot with none on target and over 60% possession, so it was going pretty well for Jamaica.
There’d be another reason to mention the ref as what seemed like an obvious denial of goal scoring opportunity happened when Brenden Aaronson broke free and was one v. one on Andre Blake before being taken down from behind 18.25 yards from goal. But only a yellow was shown and the resulting free kick earned just a corner. For his part, Taylor Twellman did not understand how there is not VAR in World Cup Qualifying. But then again... it might have been a clean tackle and not a foul at all. Hard to say, really. Sports.
The teams would go into the half with the USA needing to make an adjustment if they wanted their first home win. For their part, Jamaica was lucky to not have just 10 if not 9 men on the field, but had done enough to hold on for 45 minutes.
It seemed like there was more of what was seen in the first half in store until the 48th minute because Ricardo Pepi scored on a beautiful team move that went end to end after being started by Matt Turner.
RICARDO PEPI GIVES THE US (-325) THE LEAD pic.twitter.com/ebt8rkzX15— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) October 8, 2021
There were more chances as Jamaica opened up. Yunus Musah nearly just ran past the entire Reggae Boyz defense but his shot was saved by Blake. Sergino Dest did some cool stepovers and was brought down for a free kick just a few yards outside of the 18 but his free kick went over the bar.
Then Ricardo Pepi scored again.
PEPI DOUBLE!— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) October 8, 2021
THE KID IS ON FIRE pic.twitter.com/OMZIhLq3l0
With the goal and two more games coming in short order, Gyasi Zardes came on for Pepi and Aaronson came off for Tim Weah in the 68th minute. The US continued to coast a bit and Musah came off for Luca de la Torre and Shaq Moore came on for Dest in the 77th minute. Kellyn Acosta would enter the game for Tyler Adams as the game wound down.
The subs would have good effect as Zardes and Weah each almost had goals and the team continued to look for a third with even Antonee Robinson fancying a shot.
The Stars and Stripes would see out the game... except Shamar Nicholson, who has 22 goals in 63 games in the Belgian Pro League, almost snatched a goal. In the end, it was a fairly easy win for the USA. The first half was a bit tricky, but as a young team they came together and dominated the second half to earn a solid win.