The US men's national team, in Leg 1 of their Concacaf Nations League quarterfinal series with Trinidad & Tobago, produced a theatrical finish following a slow start Thursday evening at Austin FC's Q2 Stadium.
Here's how the Yanks fared in a 3-0 win over the 10-man visitors, setting the stage for Leg 2 Monday in Port of Spain. The aggregate winner advances to the CNL semifinals, set for March 2024, and books a spot in the 2024 Copa América that's hosted across the US.
Turner had virtually nothing to do as the visitors didn't register a shot on goal, and were largely content to let the USMNT set up shop in the attacking third.
The Fulham left back was instrumental to the first two US goals, assisting on Pepi’s opener before converting a fantastic distance finish that made it 2-0.
The veteran center back held down the backline plenty capably and also showed off some of his impressive long-passing skills. He's still got it at age 36.
Starting alongside Ream, there was nothing to complain about from Carter-Vickers as he and the defense wound up recording the clean sheet.
Dest was among the US’s most dangerous players, including a long-range shot in the second half that forced goalkeeper Denzil Smith into a diving save. His service was often dangerous, even if he didn't get rewarded with an assist in this match.
The talented 20-year-old nearly had a spectacular long-range golazo in the second half, only to be denied by a great save. Other than that, Musah was his usual solid self in midfield.
It’s hard to picture a USMNT starting lineup without the stalwart midfielder. McKennie drew the foul on T&T’s Noah Powder that put the visitors down to 10 men (second yellow card) and drew a penalty kick that was rescinded after Video Review.
Reyna’s late goal was a just reward for an active but somewhat frustrating shift, where he generated several dangerous chances that didn’t quite come off. The Borussia Dortmund attacker has now scored in back-to-back matches for the USMNT.
The PSV midfielder had some shaky moments in possession and fired a couple of wayward shots off-target, not making the most of his chance in the starting XI.
It feels like the USMNT are still learning how to consistently generate high-quality chances for the gifted Monaco striker, who couldn't join the scoresheet in this contest. Balogun had one golden opportunity late, but he put it over the crossbar.
Making his first USMNT start, the D.C. United homegrown product found some dangerous spots but didn’t quite have the end product.
Playing without Christian Pulisic, Tim Weah and Tyler Adams, Berhalter’s task was figuring out how to break down a low block sans those linchpins. The starting XI he selected didn’t get particularly close to doing that, but he also gets credit for making a pair of subs that helped break the dam in Pepi and Aaronson.
Pepi is proving to be quite the force coming off the bench. This latest substitute goal was sorely needed and opened the floodgates.
The former Philadelphia Union star also seems to fare well in a super-sub role. His non-stop energy and effort after coming on were key in changing the complexion of this match.