AUSTIN, Texas – For a team desperately in need of a striker to come out on top in the run-up to the World Cup, Jesus Ferreira’s four-goal performance in the United States men’s national team’s 5-0 win over Grenada on Friday was certainly a welcome one. development.
It took a while to break the deadlock, but once Ferreira scored the first goal in the 43rd minute, the gates opened as the team kicked off their CONCACAF Nations League defense. A hat-trick came within 13 minutes – the third-fastest player in the team’s history – before he joined forces with just four other men to score four goals in a game for the United States. No one ever registered more.
CONCACAF: Everything you need to know
– Football on ESPN+: FC Daily | Football Americas
– You don’t have ESPN? Get instant pass
Earlier today, USA coach Greg Berhalter felt Ferreira was feeling the pressure. The 21-year-old FC Dallas forward was hit goalless in matches against Morocco and Uruguay, extending the team’s drought from ninth place. Berhalter reassured Ferreira that scoring goals is just part of how he is evaluated and that his work in other areas has not gone unnoticed.
“I think any time a player is under pressure, you have to look for their reaction,” Berhalter said. “That’s the important thing, no matter the level of the opponent, the player still has to perform.”
While Ferreira responded well, the level of the opponent is important. Grenada is a small Caribbean country with a population of just over 100,000. It ranks #170 in the world and features a list of players in the stratosphere as different as the United States. The sheer number of opportunities created by the US was entirely predictable, and the talent gap prevents anything that happened from serving as some kind of deciding factor. Line.
It could have erupted against Morocco or Uruguay, it’s a different thing when one of your opponents (Leon Bravoy) exits a college football season at the University of Maine in Fort Kent.
“Away from the match, I think we will be clearly happy with the result that we expected to achieve with our quality, our strength and the way we play at home,” said winger Paul Areola, who scored the team’s goal. Another goal. “But for sure there was a lot of opportunity for us – maybe it’s the heat, maybe it’s the fatigue. I don’t know what it is, but surely we can be better.”
The US made 18 chances, according to TruMedia/Stats Perform data, and finished with 4.63 xG versus 0.09 in Grenada. On the rare occasions when Grenada pushed the ball into the offensive third, it never posed a real threat on goal, giving Matt Turner one of the most accessible clean sheets ever.
The lopsided victory was the final home game for the United States before the World Cup kicks off in Qatar in November. Although Berhalter was not prepared to downplay his pre-match importance for the friendlies against Morocco and Uruguay, his starting lineup showed where that window was. Superstars Christian Pulisic and Tyler Adams were not dressed, and the tightly rotated squad included several players expected to be on the World Cup roster.
Although Ferreira’s goals will get the most attention, it was Luca de la Torre’s play that had the most impact on the match. His ability to slither forward and play his space mates was on display throughout the match.
“He’s been amazing since he’s been with the national team, really,” said Areola. “I said a lot [my goal] It was his goal. I mean, the guy is doing an amazing tour.
“He did that in the first half a few times and he got off which is funny because he doesn’t seem to run and he’s run by everyone.”
Berhalter chose to rely more on a midfield double pivot in this window after playing almost exclusively with one defensive midfielder – mostly Adams – in the playoffs. It’s a role that de la Torre said he enjoys.
“I think I’m comfortable doing either job,” he said. “I like to have the freedom to see what the other team is doing and decide for myself if I’m going to be higher or lower.”
The United States is now turning its attention to El Salvador, where it will travel before Tuesday’s second Nations League game – the last game of the summer. After that, the team will only play two friendlies in September before the World Cup kicks off.