A point's a point, though the US men's national team certainly had a few aerial chances to start their Octagonal path with a road win Thursday night at Estadio Cuscatlán in San Salvador.
Instead, head coach Gregg Berhalter's side had to settle for a 0-0 draw against El Salvador during the first of three games during a seven-day window.
Across the lineup, here's how an altogether young USMNT fared after this summer's two trophies quickly go into the rearview.
United States Men's National Team Player Ratings
Dest’s strength is getting forward in the attack, not being forced to defend in 1-v-1 situations. Taken off in the 63rd minute, it was clear he never quite felt comfortable as El Salvador targeted his side.
Ream was a surprise inclusion in the starting XI, with the 33-year-old’s appearance drawing ire from some among the USMNT fanbase. The Fulham FC center back was solid, though, helping pitch a shutout on the road in tough conditions.
Front to back, a dependable night from the Galtassary right back. He’s now trending toward 70 caps and relied upon that experience as the USMNT trotted out their fourth-youngest WCQ lineup in the modern era.
Sporting the captain’s armband, Adams showed that he’s ready for the pressure that comes with that honor. Was the former New York Red Bulls homegrown a dominant game-changer? No, but nobody on the USMNT was as they secured a road point that’ll carry long-term importance. And Adams provided cover every time when needed.
McKennie’s header in the 72nd minute … that was the chance. The FC Dallas youth product couldn’t steer it past the Honduran goalkeeper, punctuating his otherwise influential night.
Aaronson found promising spots and produced the industrious two-way work he’s known for. Yet the former Philadelphia Union homegrown lacked the spark on an occasion where the USMNT needed it.
With Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah out, the USMNT went down their depth chart at winger. In stepped Konrad with some solid Ligue 1 form, though he was more flash than finesse in the final third.
Sargent, during his hour-plus, was at the heart of nearly every promising USMNT move. But he couldn’t land any of his four shots on target, and you only get so many quality chances during a road qualifier.
Reyna on the dribble was a constant threat. Not every daring run came off, but it always felt like the former New York City FC academy player had a chance on the horizon.
It’s a fine result for the USMNT, one where things never got too nervy at the back for Berhalter’s group. They’ll take the road point, but some questions are going to be asked about why they weren't more threatening going forward and couldn’t steal three road points to set the Octagonal’s tone.
There was nothing overtly negative about Robinson's play. Most importantly, he cooled the USMNT's temperature on the left when replacing Dest past the hour mark.
Acosta's almost like a utility infielder, capable of donning multiple roles for the USMNT. His contributions at center-mid and right back were important, and that might be underselling it.
There was a directness and threatening nature when Pefok came off the bench. At times, it seemed like he might conjure up a late winner like he did against Honduras in the Concacaf Nations League Semifinal.