Christian Pulisic was brilliant and Alejandro Zendejas showed the undeniable quality he’ll bring to the US men’s national team, pacing a 7-1 rout of Grenada in Friday night’s Concacaf Nations League A, Group D road fixture.
Braces from Weston McKennie and Ricardo Pepi were also instrumental at Kirani James National Stadium, igniting the USMNT’s first competitive match since a Round of 16 exit at the FIFA 2022 World Cup.
Interim head coach Anthony Hudson’s group now has a 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup spot secured (held in July), and they can soon do the same vis-à-vis the Nations League Semifinals (held in June). With a Group D-closing draw or win over El Salvador on Monday evening at Orlando City SC’s Exploria Stadium (7:30 pm ET), the defending champions move one step closer to more silverware.
Turner made a first-half fingertip save on a chance that would have equalized the match at 1-1, and there wasn’t much he could’ve done to stop the one goal Grenada did score. Aside from those two chances, it was a quiet evening for the Arsenal goalkeeper and New England Revolution product.
The attack-minded right back didn't get forward a ton, but looked assured when he did. The big thing for Reynolds to prove in future appearances will be his chops on the defensive side of the ball.
Starting alongside fellow Philadelphia Union homegrown product Auston Trusty, McKenzie looked comfortable and assured after an up-and-down 2021-22 season with Belgian Pro League side Genk.
Getting his first senior cap, Trusty didn’t have any head-turning moments, which is a compliment for a center back. The Birmingham City defender (on loan from Arsenal) is an intriguing one to watch on the center back depth chart.
One of the biggest names to watch in the sweepstakes to back up Antonee Robinson at left back, Scally put in a solid shift. The appeal of his skillset as an attacking fullback is clear, even if the Borussia Mönchengladbach defender didn’t make a pronounced impact in this one.
He’s not normally tasked with carrying the goal-scoring load, but McKennie’s brace highlights just how complete a player he’s become. The finish on his first goal was a really impressive display of athleticism and body control.
Deployed by Anthony Hudson as the team’s deep-lying midfielder, de la Torre didn’t look especially comfortable with the defensive demands of the role, including on the sequence that led to Grenada’s goal. The Celta de Vigo talent did supply two assists, though, showing his eye for a pass and tempo in buildup play.
It was encouraging to see Reyna back in a USMNT jersey after most of the headlines at the World Cup came via off-field controversy. It wasn’t an especially notable match for the Borussia Dortmund attacker, though, as he didn’t make the impact commensurate with his undeniable skill level.
The Leeds United attacker’s first-half goal was a well-taken finish. Aaronson’s all-out energy is valuable in Concacaf matches like this, where the climate and field conditions can be unforgiving.
They weren’t the most difficult finishes he’ll ever convert, but Pepi gets credit for taking his opportunities in what was a necessary two-goal outburst from the young striker, who’s looking to reclaim his status as the USMNT’s perceived first-choice No. 9.
The best player on the field, Pulisic was on fire from the outset, creating danger from the left side and getting rewarded with one goal and three assists. It was simply a sizzling performance from the Chelsea man, who sported the captain's armband in Tyler Adams' injury-related absence.
The interim boss deployed a strong XI that got the job done against an overmatched Grenada side. He didn’t reinvent the wheel, but you can’t poke too many holes in a 7-1 result. The biggest question around Hudson is if he can help secure the long-term future of striker Folarin Balogun in the weeks ahead. There's an awful lot of smoke around the red-hot Ligue 1 goalscorer possibly committing to the USMNT instead of England or Nigeria.
It was a relatively standard, uneventful shift in Musah’s substitute appearance. He came on with the USMNT already way ahead, and there’s not much left to learn about a player who's already established himself as a World Cup-level starter.
Subbing on for Pepi, Dike didn’t get in on the scoring action, but the former Orlando City SC striker made good runs – the type of which he’ll get rewarded for if he keeps making them.
The recently-committed Club América attacker was perhaps the USMNT debutant fans were most itching to see, and he didn’t disappoint in a pretty electric substitute shift, curling in a wicked 72nd-minute finish to make it 7-1. Zendejas also missed two more goals by a matter of inches that were denied by reaction saves.
Another highly-anticipated debutant, Booth wasn’t as impactful as Zendejas, but you saw flashes of the technical ability that’s powered a breakout season at Eredivisie club Utrecht.
The Brazil-based midfielder is clearly rated by the USMNT coaching staff, earning his fifth cap with a late-game substitute appearance. We'll see if Cardoso pushes into higher-level games, but he's nonetheless a useful piece of the player pool.