Via one goal and three assists, Christian Pulisic’s fingerprints were all over a game that booked the USMNT’s ticket to the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup in July and has them on the precipice of reaching the 2022-23 Nations League Semifinals in June. On Monday evening from Orlando City SC’s Exploria Stadium (7:30 pm ET), a Group D-closing draw or win over El Salvador will secure that latter spot.
Pepi’s goals arrived via a 4th-minute header and 53rd-minute near-post shot, continuing his strong form while on loan at Eredivisie side Groningen. And McKennie showed his propensity for set-piece dominance, as the on-loan Leeds United midfielder acrobatically finished in the 31st and 34th minutes to create separation at Kirani James National Stadium.
Quick-snap strikes from Leeds United attacker Brenden Aaronson (20th minute) and Club América winger Alejandro Zendejas (72nd minute) were other highlights, especially the latter. Zendejas, an ex-FC Dallas homegrown winger, is now formally cap-tied to the USMNT after recruiting efforts from Mexico.
Pulisic’s goal squeezed under Grenada goalkeeper Jason Belfon in the 49th minute, making it 5-1 after halftime to essentially put the result to bed. The Spice Boyz had some punch – midfielder Myles Hippolyte’s one-time strike beat Arsenal goalkeeper Matt Turner in the 32nd minute – but this one was as one-sided as the scoreline indicates.
- BIG PICTURE: The USMNT’s first competitive game under interim head coach Anthony Hudson was of the show-stopping variety, as free-flowing attacks produced chance after chance. Grenada are ranked 173rd in the world by FIFA, so take the result with a grain of salt. But the lineup decisions and clinical final-third play were encouraging signs – maintaining good vibes in a week where the possible commitment of England/Nigeria-eligible Arsenal striker Folarin Balogun (on loan at Reims) has been the dominant storyline. The Yanks, looking to defend Nations League and Gold Cup titles this summer, have a target on their back.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Alejandro Zendejas got the USMNT's seventh and final goal, a welcomed development after he pledged his long-term future to the program instead of regional rival El Tri.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Pulisic, sporting the captain's armband in midfielder Tyler Adams' injury-related absence, stepped up big-time with one goal and three assists. Captain America also drew five fouls during his 64-minute shift, giving Grenada's backline constant fits.
- USA: Monday, March 27 vs. El Salvador | 7:30 pm ET (TNT, Universo, Peacock) | Concacaf Nations League
- GRN: To be announced