ST. PAUL, Minnesota – Three days after beating Uzbekistan 3-0, the United States men’s national team closed out September’s international window with its second consecutive runaway win over an opponent from Asia, this one a 4-0 victory against Oman Tuesday at Allianz Field.
Folarin Balogun opened the scoring with his second career goal for the U.S. Second half substitute Brenden Aaronson doubled the advantage from a free kick and fellow sub Ricardo Pepi added a third before an own goal by the visitors completed the rout.
Here are a few quick takeaways plus reaction from the players and coach Gregg Berhalter after Tuesday’s match.
Play of the game
As was the case last game, U.S. midfielder Weston McKennie did most of the work in the buildup to the first goal:
McKennie dispossessed Oman’s Abdullah Fawaz in his own half, held him off then danced past his midfield counterpart to create enough space to find Juventus teammate Tim Weah with a pinpoint diagonal pass. Weah laid the ball off for Sergiño Dest, and Balogun knocked home the rebound of Dest’s shot, which was saved by visiting keeper Ibrahim Al-Mukhaini.
It was a poacher’s goal for Balogun. But it was made by McKennie, who was the Americans’ best player Tuesday night despite missing a late scoring chance.
“He was all over the place,” Aaronson said of McKennie. “He was doing what Weston, does hitting long balls all night.”
“He played excellent,” Weah added. “He could’ve got a goal at the end, but I’m happy for him.”
After the U.S. took the lead early in the last game, they let the Uzbeks back in the game. The scoreline was a little misleading. The visitors actually outshot the hosts over 90 minutes.
That didn’t happen this time. The U.S. didn’t let up an inch after going up by a goal and thoroughly dominated from start to finish, firing 19 shots to Oman’s seven. Afterward, coach Berhalter was asked by FOX Sports if that a point of emphasis.
“It wasn’t specifically ‘when we score don’t let up,’ it was like we need to bring more intensity than we bought last game,” he said. “And we need to threaten the backline with runs behind more than we did last game. I thought that was really poor last game, and we need to be cleaner on the ball. And there were still times where it takes a little bit too long, [we] hold on to the ball a little bit too much. But overall, it was it was a great effort by the guys.”
Pepi’s goal was his sixth in six international matches this year. That’s huge for the 20-year-old, who was surprisingly left off the USMNT’s World Cup roster in 2022 after exploding onto the scene in qualifying a year earlier.
“Coming off the bench, my job is to score some goals and I feel like I did that,” said Pepi, who found the net for the fourth time as a sub in 2023. “Obviously it builds some confidence.”
What’s next for the USMNT?
Most of the American players flew on a charter back to Europe immediately following Tuesday’s contest. The MLS-based contingent will return to their clubs on Wednesday.
It won’t be long until the USMNT reconvenes, though, with another pair of friendlies scheduled for next month’s international window.
The competition in those games will be far stiffer. Up first is four time world champion Germany, which beat France, FIFA’s second-ranked side, earlier Tuesday. After that, the Americans will meet frequent World Cup nemesis Ghana; the U.S. and Black Stars faced off at three straight tournaments between 2006-14.
Those October matches will reveal much more about where exactly Berhalter’s team stands with the next World Cup just over two and a half years away.
“We want to put ourselves against the best nations and test ourselves,” Balogun said. “Those are just two teams that are in our way.”
Doug McIntyre is a soccer writer for FOX Sports who has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at FIFA World Cups on five continents. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.
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