The United States Men’s National Team remained unbeaten at Exploria Stadium with a 7-0 destruction of Trinidad & Tobago. The U.S. got braces from Jonathan Lewis, Jesus Ferreira, and Paul Arriola, and a goal from Miles Robinson, to improve to 4-0-0 at Orlando City’s home grounds, out-scoring opponents 16-1 in those matches.
Ferreira in particular had a standout game, factoring directly in five of the seven USMNT goals, with three assists to go with his two goals. Meanwhile, two Orlando City players got their USMNT debuts and one got his second career cap.
“What I really liked about the guys was the focus and the intensity,” USMNT Head Coach Gregg Berhalter said after the match. “And after three weeks of training with a relatively new group, a young group, it’s good to be able to see those elements on the game field against a real opponent. I think we know that this wasn’t a World Cup qualifying-caliber team based on who they had available, but nonetheless it was good to see the focus of the team.”
Berhalter did not start any of the four Orlando City players on his roster. New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner got the start between the sticks, earning his first cap. The back line consisted of captain Aaron Long and Robinson in between fullbacks Sam Vines and Aaron Herrera, who also picked up his first cap. Jackson Yueill, Sebastian Lletget, and Kellyn Acosta manned the midfield behind an attacking trio of Lewis, Ferreira, and Arriola.
The first half basically consisted of the United States doing whatever it wanted to offensively, torturing a T&T back line that couldn’t figure out when to step up or when to sag, and which was almost always either too narrow or too wide. The U.S. movement, pace, and passing caused a lot of confusion for the Soca Warriors and things were far too easy for the Americans.
The USMNT struck early. Left back Sam Vines sent a great ball forward to Jesus Ferreira, who beat goalkeeper Adrian Foncette to the ball and took it wide to the left. Ferreira spun and found Lewis in the middle of the penalty area for the easy empty-net goal to make it 1-0 in the second minute.
Arriola got in behind two minutes later but took a heavy first touch, followed by an unnecessary second touch, which took him away from goal. He went down easily under pressure, looking for a penalty that wasn’t — and shouldn’t have been — given. The Yanks had to wait until the ninth minute to double the lead. This time Lewis sent Vines down the left flank for the cross in and Ferreira tapped in the half volley shot at the near post to make it 2-0.
“In terms of Jonathan and Jesus, you know, we worked on a lot of combinations this camp, and I think that what we’re working on with all the guys is to develop that chemistry together,” Berhalter said of the chemistry between Lewis and Ferreira. “And today was an example of two guys just really sticking to the game plan and really executing.”
“I think it just comes with a lot of the work that we put in this camp, three weeks of working,” Lewis said.
Lewis squandered an easy point-blank header in the 16th minute, hitting it back across goal into Foncette, who knew little about his save. Two minutes later, Lletget hit a shot right at the Trinidadian keeper, making a mess of another scoring chance.
The third goal came in the 22nd minute. Arriola got in behind the defense and fired a shot that Foncette could only get a piece of. Ferreira again assisted.
Ferreira should have had a second goal in the 25th minute but couldn’t keep his header down and hit it over the bar. Ten minutes later, defender Josiah Trimmingham nearly put a ball into his own net. Seconds later, Foncette made a nice diving save on a shot from distance on the right to keep the score at 3-0. Herrera got in alone in the 38th minute but couldn’t finish the play, hitting his shot at Foncette.
The lead finally bulged to 4-0 in the 41st minute and it was Arriola again. A poor clearance attempt by right back Federico Pena ended up on Ferreira’s head in the middle of the pitch. His header fell at the running feet of Arriola, who notched his brace.
Acosta should have scored just before halftime, getting in behind the defense but hitting a soft shot at Foncette. That was the final good opportunity of the opening period.
The United States dominated on the stat sheet as well as the scoreboard at halftime, leading in shots (12-0), shots on goal (9-0), corners (2-1), possession (76.7%-23.3%), and passing accuracy (91%-58%).
Orlando City midfielder Andres Perea made his USMNT debut, starting the second half in place of Lletget.
The scoring continued in the 52nd minute. Herrera was fouled on the right side, setting up a free kick. Acosta’s delivery found Long on the far side of the box and the center back headed a cross to his counterpart Robinson, who nodded home to make it 5-0.
Three minutes later, Lewis completed his brace. He ran onto a fantastic ball from Acosta and cut in from the left, smashing home a shot from the top of the area to make it 6-0 in the 55th minute.
Ferreira was next to get his brace, making it 7-0 in the 61st minute after Arriola slipped him in behind the defense.
Orlando City’s Chris Mueller and Daryl Dike — making his USMNT debut — were among four U.S. subs that came on just moments later. With the big lead and all of the substitutions, the game got a lot choppier after that and chances were few and far between.
Trinidad & Tobago finally got an opportunity to score when Perea was called for a high boot foul in the area. The Orlando midfielder was playing an aerial ball and stuck out a foot to clear it when a Trinidadian player ran into it. A spot kick was awarded but Turner made a diving save on Alvin Jones going to his right in the 66th minute to keep his clean sheet in his first USMNT start.
“I think (Turner) did an excellent job, and not only with his feet but making the penalty save was an amazing moment in the game, and (I’m) really proud of Matt, and for what he’s done this whole camp,” Berhalter said.
Dike nearly bullied his way in behind the defense in the 71st minute but a defender got just a touch on it and it skipped away from the big striker. A minute later, Trinidad & Tobago’s first shot from open play came from long range and sailed well over the crossbar.
The next decent chance came in the 82nd minute when Mueller got the ball in the box with his back to goal. He slid it over to Dike, whose left-footed effort would have beaten the goalkeeper but was blocked behind for a corner by the defense.
That was the last decent opportunity of the match and the Yanks ran out the clock on a comprehensive victory against an overmatched opponent. The U.S. led in shots (19-2), shots on target (12-1), corners (3-1), possession (72.4%-27.6%), and passing accuracy (91%-65%).
The only down side was that hometown Orlando City winger Benji Michel did not get to make his USMNT debut.
The USMNT will play next in the March FIFA window, with the younger players taking part in Concacaf qualifying for the Olympics. Meanwhile, the USWNT will play at Exploria Stadium three times in February in the upcoming SheBelieves Cup on Feb. 18, 21, and 24.