A youthful, MLS-heavy US men’s national team steamrolled El Salvador in its final game of 2020, storming to a 6-0 friendly win Wednesday night in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., at the home of Inter Miami CF. The USMNT held a 5-0 lead at halftime, scoring each goal in a 10-minute span to put head coach Gregg Berhalter’s team in cruise control.
The onslaught began with D.C. United midfielder Paul Arriola, who returned at the end of the 2020 MLS season after suffering an ACL tear. Arriola collected a Chris Mueller layoff in the 17th minute, then blasted past goalkeeper Henry Hernandez for the 1-0 lead.
That began a memorable night for Mueller, an Orlando City SC winger who made his USMNT debut. Mueller gathered a centering pass from San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Jackson Yueill in the 20th minute, then picked out his corner for a 2-0 advantage.
The 3-0 goal belonged to LA Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget in the 23rd minute, as he chipped Hernandez with a looping right-footed effort. Lletget’s shot benefitted from a deflection after a sliding challenge from an El Salvador defender.
Mueller then found his brace in the 25th minute, giving the USMNT a 4-0 lead with a diving header. He made a back-post run and acrobatically finished a cross from LA Galaxy right back Julian Araujo.
Capping the first-half blitz, Toronto FC forward Ayo Akinola pushed the scoreline to 5-0 in the 27th minute, providing a sliding finish after a USMNT counter attack. Akinola’s senior-team debut goal was created by Mueller, who was originally played through by Brenden Aaronson.
The scoring pace slowed in the second half, though Aaronson bagged his first international goal in the 50th minute for a 6-0 USMNT lead. The outgoing Philadelphia Union midfielder was picked out by Lletget near the penalty-kick spot, then calmly placed his shot.
- 17' – USA – Paul Arriola | WATCH
- 20' – USA – Chris Mueller | WATCH
- 23' – USA – Sebastian Lletget | WATCH
- 25' – USA – Chris Mueller | WATCH
- 27' – USA – Ayo Akinola | WATCH
- 50 – USA – Brenden Aaronson | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: With the 2021 international calendar promising to be jam-packed, this game served as a worthy evaluation period. There aren’t a ton of takeaways against a poor El Salvador side, but several youngsters strengthened their standing and seized the moment. Plus, the result capped 2020 with a bang, leaving the USMNT with some feel-good vibes after a wild year where games were few and far between.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Chris Mueller had two goals and one assist on his USMNT debut. The third-year pro is coming off a career year for Orlando City SC, and he carried that swagger onto the international stage.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: In a game with six USMNT goals, there’s no shortage to choose from. Yet we’re going with Brenden Aaronson’s tally in the 50th minute, which acts as a send-off before the Union Homegrown product heads to Austrian club Red Bull Salzburg.