The USMNT began their summer with a friendly against Morocco in Cincinnati since Ohio is the the country’s national stadium now. It would be the first game for the squad since qualifying for the World Cup and the work now is clearly focused on the next major task at hand: emerging from the Concacaf Nations League Group D.
US Soccer provided this list of players in the match. From this it seemed like Brenden Aaronson would be set to play as a no. 8 in the “useful midfielder that does stuff” role that Weston McKennie plays when healthy. Otherwise, it seemed like this was a near first choice XI for Gregg Berhalter.
Our XI in Cincy.— USMNT (@USMNT) June 1, 2022
Morocco also lined up a list of players that are low-key pretty decent in terms of challenging themselves at the highest levels in Europe.
Voici le 11 du Maroc ce soir : X— TFT MOROCCO (@TFT_Morocco) June 1, 2022
Bounou - Saïss ©️ - Aguerd - Hakimi - Masina - Amrabat - Samy - Ounahi - Taarabt - Tissoudali - El Kaabi pic.twitter.com/BroosWcSkR
In the end, goals from Brenden Aaronson Tim Weah, and, an actual American striker, Haji Wright along with some big saves from Matt Turner brought another triumph to Ohio.
Video clips of nice goals scored by Americans, including one by an actual American striker
The USA started brightly with an early attempt by Jesus Ferreira that forced keeper Yassine Bounou to make an early save in the first minute. Morocco would have the best early chance as Tarik Tissoudali cut through the USA backline and found Adam Masina who fired a shot that Matt Turner did well to block in the 12th minute.
However, it would be the Americans who would strike first as Brenden Aaronson finished a chance that was set up brilliantly by Christian Pulisic.
THE TOUCH AND ASSIST BY PULISIC TO AARONSON pic.twitter.com/y5hq1gKbIA— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 1, 2022
The Americans would strike again as Tim Weah, who finally found some form late in the 2022 club season, smashed a shot past Bounou.
A SCREAMER FROM TIM WEAH ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/xYa4LgxJg7— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 2, 2022
The USA would go into the half ahead 2-0, but Morocco did have success at creating opportunities with 11 shots and five on target. At times, Walker Zimmerman and Aaron Long looked like they had chili in their shoes.
After the half, Berhalter wen tot his bench to bring in Joe Scally, Haji Wright, and Cameron Carter-Vickers for Antonee Robinson, Ferreira, and Zimmerman. With striker a big question mark for the USA at this point, Ferreira will have regretted not finding the back of the net on the night.
Especially because an American striker finally scored a goal! In the 61st minute Aaronson fired a shot that was blocked into the path of Pulisic just outside the 6 yard box. CP10 gathered the ball and was promptly elbowed off of it and awarded a penalty. After some shenanigans involving Morocco players being booked for dissent and saying some unkind things as the American striker waited to take the shot, the ref cleared the penalty spot and Pulisic stepped up and gave the ball to Wright. The actual American striker made no mistake and fired it into the net to make the score 3-0.
Christian Pulisic wins the penalty, gives the spot kick to his former U.S. youth teammate Haji Wright, and the in-form striker converts on his #USMNT debut. 3-0!— SI Soccer (@si_soccer) June 2, 2022
(via @TUDNUSA) pic.twitter.com/oApgk8tqtq
Malik Tillman and Luca de la Torre came in after the goal for Pulisic and Tyler Adams in the 66th minute. Then there was a hydration break and Aaronson came off for McKennie in the 72nd as the game entered the “well, it’s a friendly so we’ll do a bunch of subs and it’ll break up the game a lot, but it’s a friendly” stage.
To say Morocco was having a bad night would be a fair assessment, but it got somehow worse. In the 75th minute Scally apparently exhaled too forcefully at Soufiane Rahimi and the Atlas Lions were awarded a penalty. But they missed it.
The ball does indeed speak the truth.— SI Soccer (@si_soccer) June 2, 2022
After what appeared to be a phantom penalty called on Joe Scally, Morocco’s spot kick clangs off the crossbar #USAvMAR
(via @TUDNUSA) pic.twitter.com/VuSzS7U4Eg
The next 15 minutes saw the USA tidily wrap the game up and secure the cleansheet. It was a solid performance all around. Though Morocco looked as if they were off a step, it was also a solid win against a formidable opponent. Another text comes this weekend as Uruguay awaits.