A much better performance saw the USA run riot against Oman in Gregg Berhalter’s second game back in charge. By venturing into a fresh and distinctive tactical strategy, Berhalter orchestrated precisely the kind of transformation needed. The USMNT dominated Oman with a resounding 4-0 triumph, thoroughly overpowering their Asian adversaries.
We take a closer look at how it all went down, the context of some of the key plays within the flow of the game, and what it means for the team going forward.
Team USA (4-2-3-1): 18. Horvath (GK) — 2. Dest (D. Jones, 76′), 4. Richards (McKenzie, 71′), 12. M. Robinson, 23. Lund — 8. McKennie, 6. Musah, — 21. Weah (Paredes, 80′), 17. Tillman (Cremaschi, 71′) 10. Pulisic (Aaronson, 46′) —20. Balogun (Pepi, 46′).
Christian Pulisic wears the captain’s armband for the final September friendly match as the U.S. faces Oman at Allianz Field in Minnesota.
The U.S. has bounced back from the sluggish beginning but still hasn’t created a clear scoring opportunity. The Americans did come close in the tenth minute, as a cross from Tim Weah almost connects with an advancing Kristoffer Lund at the far post, but a defender manages to head it out for a corner just in time.
Florian Balogun’s poacher instincts give the U.S. the lead in the 13th minute! The play started with a quick series of switches that confused Oman’s defense. Weah’s cross went past Pulisic, who slipped, but Weston McKennie recovered and passed it back to Weah. From there, the Juventus wingback set up Dest for the shot. Sergino Dest’s powerful strike was fumbled by the goalkeeper, allowing Balogun to tap it in.
The ball finds its way into the back of the net courtesy of Weah five minutes later, but the goal is disallowed as he unmistakably employed his arm to guide the shot in. This play originates from a fierce cross delivered by Christian Pulisic. However, as Weah attempts to direct it with his head, it inadvertently strikes his arm and ends up in the net.
An excellent chance slips away for the Americans at minute 27 as McKennie finds Dest, who connects with a well-executed long pass to the far post. Dest attempts a one-touch cross into the box, but unfortunately, no one is there to tap it in. These switches have been causing Oman problems.
Sergino Dest’s attempt in the 33rd minute is thwarted by goalkeeper Al Mukhaini. Another significant switch from Weston McKennie reaches the U.S. attack on the right. With Dest advancing aggressively in his usual style, he finds some room and takes a shot, but Al Mukhaini is quick to deflect it away.
Tim Weah breaks free down the left after receiving a pass from McKennie. He cuts inside onto his right foot and unleashes a powerful low shot towards the near post, narrowly missing the target just past the half-hour mark. The hosts are really putting on the pressure now. It’s a relentless attack and it’s only a matter of time before we see a second goal.
The conclusion of the first half has seen a bit of a lull following an energetic 35 minutes. Oman managed to put together a rare bit of attacking possession, but Chris Richards swiftly dealt with it. On the opposite side, Weston McKennie makes a move into the penalty area but gets dispossessed. The referee would soon send the teams into the locker rooms.
Even though the scoreline stands at 1-0, much like the match against Uzbekistan at this time, the overall performance has shown improvement. This display will instill hope in U.S. fans, suggesting that Gregg Berhalter has the ability to bring creativity to the attack. Weston McKennie’s role was particularly intriguing, as he was granted significant freedom to move around. His responsibility included sending long diagonal passes from the left flank to the right, a tactic that consistently troubled Oman throughout the match. The 4-2-3-1 formation looks to be working and it’ll only get better as time goes on.
Second half begins
The United States sees a couple of changes, as Gregg Berhalter aims to give some players more playing time. Ricardo Pepi enters the field at halftime for the second consecutive match, while Folarin Balogun is preserved ahead of his move to AS Monaco. Additionally, Brenden Aaronson is brought on to take the place of Christian Pulisic. Pulisic passes the captain’s armband to Weston McKennie, who is playing out of his skin.
Brenden Aaronson is fouled at the hour mark while receiving a through-ball from Malik Tillman, earning the U.S. a promising free-kick opportunity just outside the top of the penalty area.
Aaronson takes charge of the resulting free-kick and sends it into the back of the net in an unusual manner! The ball manages to find its way through the wall, which opens up like the Red Sea. The goalkeeper struggles to track it, taking two steps in the wrong direction and failing to recover in time to make the save.
At the 70th-minute mark, Gregg Berhalter is preparing to make a few more substitutions. Benjamin Cremaschi is set to make his debut for the USMNT, taking the place of Malik Tillman. Cremaschi, who shares the field with Lionel Messi at Inter Miami, also has the option to represent Argentina on international duty, a decision he’ll have to make in the future. Additionally, Mark McKenzie will come on for Chris Richards.
The United States squander two prime chances following a sharp counter-attack! Ricardo Pepi initiates it with a remarkable tackle in midfield, setting off the break. Brenden Aaronson then puts Ibrahim Al Mukhaini to the test with a powerful shot, prompting a diving save from the goalkeeper. In the aftermath, Cremaschi gains possession, and he lays it off sideways for Dest. However, the full-back’s shot veers across the face of the goal with no one on the receiving end. This proves to be Dest’s final contribution in the match as he is substituted for DeJuan Jones.
The United States makes it look effortless, with DeJuan Jones delivering a precise cutback to Pepi positioned with his back to the goal at the edge of the 18-yard box in the 79th minute. Pepi swiftly turns and fires a shot straight through his defender’s legs, catching the goalkeeper off guard and leaving him with a late reaction. All aboard the Pepi train!
Kevin Paredes makes his USMNT debut as he replaces Tim Weah following Pepi’s goal.
It’s an instant impact for the Wolfsburg youngster as Paredes creates the fourth goal for the United States through an own-goal in minute 81! The DC academy product, who has just entered the field, charges forward and sends a cross in from the right. It was for Pepi at the near post, but a sliding Al Braiki inadvertently redirects it into his own net!
McKennie missed a phenomenal chance to add a fifth for his country in the 84th minute. After a cross from Ricardo Pepi to the U.S. midfielder on the cutback, McKennie finds himself with plenty of space at the penalty spot. However, he pulls his shot well wide of the target. He holds his head in his hands, fully aware that he’s missed a significant opportunity.
Yunus Musah picked up a late yellow card in the late stages of the match, but nothing further ensued in this match. It’s a convincing win for the Americans.
The United States emerged as the rightful victor, maintaining control of the game from start to finish. They delivered a diverse and creative performance, applying various approaches to challenge Oman.
From Weston McKennie’s precise diagonal passes to Tim Weah’s dynamic skills on the ball, and with Ricardo Pepi injecting fresh energy as a substitute, along with a late showcase of youthful prowess, Gregg Berhalter orchestrated an attacking exhibition that truly showcased the depth of talent within this team.
While the match against Uzbekistan raised concerns, this game more than compensates with an exhilarating 90 minutes of play. It should reassure fans, as the team confidently dispatched an opponent they were expected to defeat convincingly.
That’s it for the September friendlies. Up next is the October camp where the USMNT will look forward to taking on European powerhouse (although not in great form), Germany, and Ghana. These are two teams that were in the last World Cup, which marks a significant step up compared to the opposition the U.S. faced this month.