The USA entered the first World Cup qualifier since... you know, we all remember. It was wet and rainy and Bruce Arena was there and it wasn’t fun. Geoff Cameron was watching and looked all mad/sad about it. Not a good time. My main memory for that game was thinking that I had to write the What We Learned article and how pointless that was. Luckily, the USMNT got good at soccer in the last four years and hopefully we won’t be re-living that fiasco.
Still, the team would need to go on the road in front of an unfriendly crowd and do what they could to overcome Alex Roldan. One thing was sure, anything less than 8 points in qualifying this round wouldn’t be acceptable.
If there was any question about how the USMNT would approach the game, that was answered as soon as the lineup came out and Konrad de la Fuente started alongside Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie in central midfield. That’s a decision that says, I’m not too concerned about responding to what El Salvador wants to do and am looking to dictate the game from Gregg Berhalter. Also, put some respect on Tim Ream’s name.
Here. We. Go.— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) September 3, 2021
Your World Cup Qualifying Starting XI #SLVvUSA Lineup Notes: https://t.co/JG8zmClZTi pic.twitter.com/9jI59NHzWh
Meanwhile, Hugo Perez sent a promising El Salvador side out in a 4-4-2 featuring Greg Vanney’s nephew and a roster whose most prominent players are in MLS or play in Holland. That said, Los cuzcatlecos were coming off of a respectable showing in the Gold Cup and the home town energy would surely provide a boost against the Stars and Stripes.
11 Inicial |— La Selecta (@LaSelecta_SLV) September 3, 2021
Este es nuestra alineación del Prof. Hugo Pérez para esta noche Estados Unidos.
¡Todos apoyando a nuesta #AzulYBlanco! ⚪ pic.twitter.com/e2INghobnu
A game that featured... oddly not that much Concacafing, but no goals
In what started as a tricky fixture for the USA, the team had a difficult time creating chances. That said, the team did effectively move the ball into the attacking third though the chances were lacking. Through the first 30 minutes, the best moments of the match were created by the camera man as it seemed like the production decisions were, in close? super wide? WHO CARES JUST CUT TO CAMERA 2.
The game came to life at about the half hour mark as El Salvador began to grow more bold in their pressing and the US responded by pushing forward and finding seams in the El Salvador backline. A goalkeeping error by Matt Turner gave the team in blue a corner that created a shot that nearly floated into the USA goal. The Americans tried to do lots of flicks and fancy things but nothing really looked like it would threaten the El Salvador goal and the teams went into the half at 0-0.
Given the struggles in the first half, the second began with the Stars and Stripes just basically doing what they did in the initial 45 but harder and a little faster. The result was more struggle, but this time harder and faster.
A trio of subs came in for the USA as Antonee Robinson, Jordan Pefok, and Kellyn Acosta entered for Sergino Dest, Josh Sargent, and Konrad.
One change that did seem effective was Gio Reyna and Brenden Aaronson interchanging more with Reyna playing more on the left where the USA was having most of its success. That nearly paid off in the 72nd minute when GR7 floated a cross that Weston McKennie got a head to it but failed to put his shot into the net. Still, Reyna was the best player on the field and as the game wore on he continued to be the main outlet for the team as any team moves were just not coming together.
Two more subs came in as Cristian Roldan and Sebastian Lletget entered for Aaronson and Yedlin when the clock hit the 79th minute. While the new additions did provide a spark, the game still lacked the decisive moment and ended in a 0-0 draw.
Not the best result, not the worst, neutral.