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USA vs. Puerto Rico: Final Score 3-1 as Paul Arriola Leads Yanks with Goal, Assist

In the first ever meeting between the United States and Puerto Rico, the Americans fielded some young players and still got the win.

Bobby Wood's goal turned out to be the game winner.
Bobby Wood's goal turned out to be the game winner.
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

It wasn't the prettiest of matches but the USMNT went to Bayamon, Puerto Rico and beat the host nation 3-1 in the first ever match between the two countries. Tim Ream opened the scoring with his first U.S. goal and Paul Arriola added a goal and assist in his first senior cap to lead the Yanks. Bobby Wood also scored.

With MLS players and Liga MX playoff  participants not available for selection, Jurgen Klinsmann fielded an unusual lineup.

The match began in lackluster fashion, played mostly between the boxes as the U.S. tried to acclimate to the surface at Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium. The first good chance early came in the 14th minute when Alejandro Bedoya whipped in a free kick just over the head of Michael Orozco.

But just six minutes later, the Americans found their breakthrough. Alfredo Morales fired a blazing shot that Puerto Rican goalkeeper Matthew Sanchez -- a Loyola product -- made a diving punch on, but Ream was there to score his first international goal on the rebound in the 20th minute.

Perry Kitchen fired a volley high after DeAndre Yedlin's cross for Bedoya was partially cleared in the 31st minute, but three minutes later, the Americans doubled their lead when Wood found himself in alone on Sanchez and lifted a shot over the keeper and into the net. The 34th-minute goal was greeted by a chorus of boos by the home crowd, as a pair of Puerto Rican players were down injured behind the play. Arriola slipped Wood in neatly and the budding U.S. star made no mistake.

Puerto Rico nearly got one back in the 36th after Kitchen committed a foul just above the box, yielding a dangerous free kick. Joseph Marrero fired just over Brad Guzan's bar.

Six minutes later, the hosts did pull one back. Florida International product Luis Betancur scored off a U.S. turnover on a beautiful strike over Guzan to give Puerto Rico a lifeline.

The goal seemed to wake up the USMNT who buzzed in the attacking third in the final few moments of the first half, with DeAndre Yedlin leading the way with dynamic movement down the right channel. The U.S. was unable to add a third goal before the break despite getting into the box a few times.

That moment of wakefulness disappeared at the break, as the United States started the second half on the back foot after the insertion of Tim Howard, Matt Miazga, and Emerson Hyndman for Guzan, John Brooks, and Kitchen, respectively. Puerto Rico controlled the opening minutes of the second half. Manolo Sanchez sent a volley just inches wide of Howard's goal when he was left all alone on the far side and second-half Alexis Rivera found him with a perfect cross in the 48th minute.

The Americans got back on the front foot moments later. Wood busted down the right side and chipped a cross over the keeper and across the face of goal but none of his teammates could get onto it in the 53rd minute. Just three minutes later, Arriola restored the USMNT's two-goal advantage with an easy tap-in after Bedoya beat Sanchez wide and squared a pass back across the six-yard box, making it 3-1.

The rest of the second half consisted mainly of near-misses for both teams. Hyndman spun and shot from the top of the box in the 67th minute but couldn't get any power or accuracy on the wide shot. Manolo Sanchez had two good chances in the 73rd and 74th minutes, finding himself open above the box twice. He scuffed his first shot well high and wide off the rough surface on the first try and forced a diving save by Tim Howard on the second.

Julian Green's cannon blast in the 77th was punched away by Sanchez, who also made a diving stop on Hyndman four minutes later. In the 83rd, Lichaz and Fabrice Pecault -- the latter in his first cap -- forced a pair of sprawling saves.

In the end, it was a good opportunity for players looking to find space in the USMNT program. Arriola in particular looked good, but Hyndman also had some good moments. Yedlin may have been the best player on the pitch.

Next up for the United States is a date with Ecuador in Frisco, TX, on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET.