Jordan_morris_-_asn_top_-_isi_-_usmnt_vs_uruguay_-_goal_celebration_-_bill_barrett Bill Barrett/ISI Photos
USMNT analysis

Thoughts on the USMNT's 1-1 draw against Uruguay in St. Louis

The 1-1 result against Uruguay wasn't bad but it was a missed opportunity to create a spark of momentum because the chances were once again there for the U.S. team. Instead, it didn't take them and allowed an opponent to grow into the game. ASN's Brian Sciaretta is here with the recap
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
September 11, 2019
6:00 AM
THE UNITED STATES national team played Uruguay to a 1-1 draw on Tuesday night in St. Louis. After Los Angeles FC teenager Brian Rodriguez gave Uruguay the lead in the 50th minute, the U.S. team responded with a goal from Jordan Morris in the 79th minute.

There are two different ways to review and analyze this game. If you look at this game in a vacuum or as a single isolated event, it was a decent but not great performance. There were certainly plenty of positives to take away from it and a number of players played well. On the other hand, if you look at this result when combined with the Mexico debacle on Friday or the Gold Cup final loss back in July, this game did not do enough to either excite the fanbase or quell the concerns.

Here are some thoughts on the game

No killer instinct

Like it did in the Chile friendly in March, or the Gold Cup final, or the Mexico loss in September, the U.S. team started off strong but allowed its talented opponent to work its way back into the game. This is now the fourth game where the U.S. team started off with the bulk of chances – only to allow its opponent to dictate the pace by the second half.

This either means that the U.S. team doesn’t know how to put away its opponents when it has the chance, or that its simply easy for opponents to figure out what the U.S. team is trying to do. This game wasn’t perhaps a little different in that the U.S. generally controlled the game for the entire first half as opposed to simply the first 15-20 minutes. But still, it was 0-0 at the break. When presented with the opportunity, the U.S. team could not gain a stranglehold on the game when it had the chance.

Chances were there

This game also provided a completely different type of test. The tempo was extremely slow. The U.S. team had to be more methodical in breaking down an opponent who was defensively compact and ready to pounce on a corner.

In the first half, the U.S. team had several clear chances. Jordan Morris served up Tyler Boyd on a perfect cross but the Besiktas winger missed from close range. Cristian Roldan had a header that forced a big save. Sergino Dest had a shot go just wide. At the end of the half, the U.S. team was wrongfully denied a penalty for a clear handball.

But the quality inside the final third just needs to be better for the U.S. team. That was the biggest disappointment among American fans was the lack of sustained pressure – as opposed to occasional nice moments.

The U.S. team’s goal was obviously a direct result of quite a bit of luck. But luck like that only happens when you get the ball into dangerous positions. Nick Lima did quite well after replacing Reggie Cannon in the 75th minute. On the play, he forced Uruguay into a clearance from close range. But it deflected off Lima and fell to Jordan Morris to chest the ball into the goal from a foot away.

After that goal, the U.S. had a bit more energy and was on the front foot again. But the goal from a game like this is to create more chances, be more dynamic in the final third, and not allow opponents to regularly work its way back into control of the game.

The U.S. team needs to be more of a consistent threat over the course of 90 minutes.

Uruguay goal was a learning moment

Brian Rodriguez’s goal was beautiful and very well taken, but it should never have happened. Yes, Aaron Long was twisted inside out but when a talented player Rodriguez gets an opportunity to run at an isolated defender with momentum on the edge of the box in the middle of the field, many defenders are going to struggle. That’s a tough situation that should not have happened.

The counterattack began when the U.S. team was pressing on the attack. The fullbacks had moved forward and the central midfielders were looking to make a play in the middle on the edge of Uruguay’s box.

The turnover happened but the U.S. central midfielders had an opportunity to foul just as the counterattack began 70-80 yards from the American goal. But it was clear from the minute Uruguay came into possession that the U.S. team was very vulnerable in its defensive setup to stop Uruguay. At that moment, Cristian Roldan or Jackson Yueill have to recognize this and commit a professional foul. It will result in a yellow card, but the U.S. team would live to fight another day.

The situational awareness wasn’t there and a team like Uruguay lives for chances like that.

How did the players fare?

Here is a list of how some of the more noteworthy American players played, for better or for worse.

Jordan Morris: Morris was the best American player on the field, overall. It wasn’t a great game but he was solid. He was doing very well attacking down the left side and was bothering Uruguay’s defense in 1v1 situations. His crosses were generally effective too. The goal was easy but Morris deserved it after his effort. Combined with drawing a penalty vs. Mexico, Morris had a decent September window.

Jackson Yueill: It was a bit of a surprise that Yueill earned the start but the Minnesota native performed well in central midfield. His corner kicks, however, were poor. Still he belongs in the U.S. team picture although it’s easy to see him shifting focus to the U-23 team for the first half of 2020.

Sergino Dest: It is easy to see Dest’s upside and he has a lot of skill on the ball. It is also noted that when he has to defend a skilled attacker in a 1v1 situation, he is still prone to getting beat. If he can improve this area of his game, he has a potentially scary upside. But the big question is whether or not he stays with the U.S. program. That’s on him right now.

Josh Sargent: The hometown player was given a nice opportunity to start in his hometown. In this game, he directly wasn’t as dangerous as he could be in terms of generating attacks but he was very useful in multiple occasions in his hold up play and helping the offense that way. He still has a ways to go in his development but he adds value to the team right now.

Tim Ream: Another local player getting the start in St. Louis and Ream was one of the best American players on the day. His passing out of the back helped the midfield and his emergency defending was also on point. He might be on the older side right now, but he belongs on the team.

Aaron Long: The reigning MLS defender of the year didn’t have a great game. He looked poor on the goal although as mentioned above, he was put into a bad situation by the midfielders.

Tyler Boyd: After some strong performances early in the Gold Cup, Boyd is still looking to get going with the U.S. team. His play in Turkey shows he has talent but he hasn’t been able to deliver yet against solid opposition. He has to bury chances like he had in the first half. Against good opponents, that often will make the difference. His best moment was a cross into the box in the second half that found Morris is a nice position.

Cristian Roldan/Sebastian Lletget: The two attacking midfielders had decent but unspectacular games. Uruguay gave them far more space than they are typically given. Roldan was pretty good circulating the ball although Lletget was a bit frustrated making plays when Uruguay was compact defensively.

Reggie Cannon: The Dallas right back was solid defensively and was eager to get into the attack. He is a smart player, reads the game well, and is positionally solid on both sides of the ball. His crosses need to be better and his final delivery of an effective final pass is sometimes lacking. Still he belongs on this team and with Dest’s commitment to the team uncertain and DeAndre Yedlin’s injury still ongoing, Cannon could be asked to play a bigger role than previously thought. Like Yueill, it is also easy to see Cannon shift to the U-23 team where he could be a potential captain.

Nick Lima: The San Jose right back only played the final 15 minutes but he was very good in this game. He tracked back once to make a very nice defensive play and offensively he delivered two very nice balls into the box. Yes, he was lucky on the assist but was only in position for the luck after a nice move into the box. As the old saying goes, the better you are, the more luck you get. Lima earned his luck there.

Paxton Pomykal: He only played the last 10 minutes but he left people wishing he had played more. He took defenders on, was looking to find the winning goal, and put forth a lot of effort to track back defensively. It is easy to see something is there with Pomykal but American fans can just hope that the Texan can take the next steps to reach his potential with the help of FC Dallas and the U.S. national team and U-23 team.

Closing remarks

The game was overall lackluster and did not have nearly as much energy as many high-profile friendlies have. That is probably best for a U.S. team that is looking to find its footing. This wasn’t as brutal as the U.S. loss to Mexico on Friday or even the U.S. loss to Venezuela ahead of the Gold Cup. Given some of the U.S. players who were missing, it was a better result than either the narrow win over Ecuador of the draw against Chile back in March.

The big picture item is problematic. Fans want something to believe in with the U.S. team and it has been a very long time since its supporters felt positive about the team’s direction. This game was okay but nothing great.

It’s sometimes unfair and unwise to read too much into friendlies although a very bad result can demoralize and a good result can help create a spark that leads to momentum. At best the result against Uruguay mitigated a demoralizing performance against Mexico. At worst, it was a lost opportunity to create a spark that can only really happen against opponents outside of CONCACAF – sans Mexico.

Now the U.S. team will head into the fall for Nation’s League games against Canada and Cuba in much of the same state as it was before the September window began.

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