The United States men's national team's Concacaf World Cup qualifying campaign started uneventfully on Thursday as the red, white and blue had to settle for a 0-0 draw at El Salvador. Playing at the Estadio Cuscatlan in San Salvador, the Americans had their chances and were the better team on the night going forward, but a lack of precision when it mattered most saw them blow a chance of taking three points and kick-start their road to the World Cup.
Without Christian Pulisic, the U.S. struggled to find a reference point in attack that could be that threat and creator. Coach Gregg Berhalter went with an ultra-attacking lineup, deploying Josh Sargent, Gio Reyna, Brenden Aaronson and Konrad de la Fuente, but the returns were minimal on 13 shots, despite some solid chances.
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Miles Robinson, who started at center back with Tim Ream, had the clearest chance in the first half off a set piece from Reyna, but his wide-open header went over the goal.
The hosts threatened very little, with Matt Turner looking sharp at goal when called upon, helping record yet another clean sheet after his stellar performances at the Gold Cup. Turner only had to make one save on the night.
In the end, substitute Kellyn Acosta had one excellent change to collect all three points but saw his header well saved. The result will leave a sour taste in the mouths of USMNT fans who felt three points were likely, but as always in Concacaf, nothing is given.
The U.S. returns to action on Sunday when they host Canada in their second qualifier in Nashville. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. ET.
Here are our player ratings from the match:
|Name||Minutes||How did they do?||Rating|
(GK) Matt Turner
A spectator. Had to make one save and did it well. Also dealt with the high balls well.
(DEF) Sergino Dest
He was average. Had some OK moments going forward but too often he tries to do too much and can end up turning it over. It's as if he's trying to be cute 100 percent of the time.
(DEF) Miles Robinson
Should have scored nine minutes in with a wide-open header that he sent over the goal. Defensively he was where he needed to be, but he won't forget that chance.
(DEF) Tim Ream
Lacked that killer instinct when attacking the ball, but he played it safe and did alright. Truthfully, he didn't have a whole lot to worry about and was solid in clearing crosses.
(DEF) DeAndre Yedlin
|79||Had some trouble down the right with Alex Roldan and just wasn't at his sharpest. But his awareness was good to get back and be in position defensively, not getting caught too far forward.|
(MID) Tyler Adams
|90||Effort was there, looked confident but sometimes was left on an island by himself, needing a little assistance to deal with El Salvador's pace.|
(MID) Weston McKennie
|90||Not short of confidence, he had a couple looks that he skied. Touch wasn't quite there at times but was efficient in his passing. Missed a good headed chance late.|
(MID) Brenden Aaronson
|78||Was put into a big spot in the middle and was fairly quiet. Did have some moments and grew into the match in the second half, but he wasn't great.|
(FWD) Gio Reyna
A threat whenever he had the ball. It seemed like where he was really dangerous was on the dead ball situations. During the run of play, he lacked accuracy aside from one delivery to McKennie.
(FWD) Josh Sargent
As usual, he worked his tail off, helped defend, helped get the attack going moving forward yet just didn't get the service he needed and created little for himself. Story of his life.
(FWD) Konrad de la Fuente
Looked lively down the left early. He showed off that flair, but that was about it. His service was quite poor and he provided no end product.
|Substitutes||Replaced||How did they do?||Rating|
Helped improve the defense that was under threat with Dest getting forward. Held his own.
Did more defensively than in attack, so that tells you everything considering he's a striker. His size and effort was needed earlier. He occupied the center backs well, and should be in the mix to start as qualifying goes on.
Shaky off the bench early, including a poor defensively clearance that could have been costly. Had a really nice late chance that he should have done better with. Played both midfield and fullback so his versatility came in handy.
|Cristian Roldan||Aaronson||Went up against his brother and almost got in on goal before being called for a foul. Played just 12 minutes.||6|
|Sebastian Lletget||Yedlin||Came in off the bench and tried to make an impact on the left but was defended well.||6|
|Manager||Subs used||How did the manager do?||Rating|
|5||Didn't care for the starting XI and cared less for his subs. I thought taking Dest off made a lot of sense, but more was needed centrally to possess the ball. Not having Pulisic was so noticeable, and in the end it's a point he'll take.|