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What we learned in USA v El Salvador: McKennie is a force, offense falls apart

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What we learned in USA v El Salvador: McKennie is a force, offense falls apart

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It wasn’t always easy, and yet, on the whole, it was a bit.

The United States edged El Salvador 1-0 in a hard-fought game, but it was never an uncomfortable game for the home side in Columbus, Ohio on Thursday night. There wasn’t necessarily a sense of whether he would find the back of the net, but rather of when.

A frustrating first half gave way to a sharper 45-minute second, and after Antonee Robinson provided the breakthrough just after half-time, the United States were on their way to an advantageous position in the standings. CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers.

MORE: Minute-by-minute recap of USA 1-0 El Salvador

Here are four things we learned from the United States’ victory over El Salvador in January, which cemented the Stars & Stripes’ hold on second place in the octagon.

1. Weston McKennie is a treasure trove of possession

Hard to imagine that this is the same player who ran like a chicken with his head cut off with Schalke. McKennie has transformed into a calming presence on the ball but also someone who is forward thinking. His partnership with Tyler Adams turned into a first-choice lock, and that’s a great thing for the United States.

Even in the frustrating first half, McKennie was the best player for USA at building possession, creating chances and integrating teammates into the game. Adams and Yunus Musah played well, but McKennie was the real star.

2. Ricardo Pepi is the front guy

Gregg Berhalter went with Jesus Ferreira in the lead in place of Pepi. He explained that he wanted a better heist game for this match. Ferreira was involved, which is significant, but he was not the man for the job.

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Although Pepi hasn’t scored for club or country since October, he is the best option, and that was clear on Thursday night. There’s more to being a striker than finishing chances, but there’s none more important. Ferreira’s first-half miss was rated a gargantuan 0.7 xG. To give a comparison, the penalties are tabulated at 0.8. Frankly, he has to score that.

Ferreira, overall, was fine, and he provided a few moments of positivity, but he was mostly invisible after halftime, other than providing a flick in the American goal. Pepi is the most refined option at the moment.

3. Gregg Berhalter needs more answers to break down bunkered opponents

While USA eventually found the most important breakthrough and emerged victorious, their scoreless first halves are troubling. This may in part be explained by the narrow margins of CONCACAF play, but the United States have always been too calm and happy to slowly wear down their opponents rather than face weaker opposition from the whistle. ‘opening. Although this can be effective, it is also dangerous.

If Berhalter wants to make the United States a feared opponent ahead of the World Cup, there needs to be more venom in the first half rather than a see-all-90s mentality. The teams are continually racing against the United States and it’s working, at least early on.

Most notably, Berhalter will have a big job to bring Christian Pulisic back to his best. The American star was substituted after just 64 minutes.

4. Timothy Weah is healthy again

The Lille native was out for a while with a hamstring injury but came back to his senses and put in a spectacular performance at Columbus. He was electric down the right, using his familiar pace, but on top of that he was incredibly skilled and used his strength and sneakiness to leave defenders scratching their heads.

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With Christian Pulisic in a rut of poor form, having Weah to rely on more than a brave Brenden Aaronson gives the United States a wealth of talent in attack, which is essential in CONCACAF games where opponents are constantly forcing the Stars & Stripes to beat them. the ball.



What we learned in USA v El Salvador: McKennie is a force, offense falls apart

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