Commentary

Northern Ireland-USA Men's Friendly Player Ratings

NORTHERN IRELAND-USA EXPRESS:
March 28 in Belfast
Northern Ireland 1 USA 2. Goals: Reyna 30, Pulisic 59 (pen.); McGinn 88.
* * * * * * * * * *

Switching to a three-man backline and four midfielders worked well for the USA, which had 61% of the possession as the Northern Irish fell victim to the playmaking of forwards Gio Reyna and Christian Pulisic in a 2-1 U.S. win.

USA Player Ratings
(1=low; 5=middle; 10=high.)

GOALKEEPER

Zach Steffen reacted well to an under-hit headed back pass from Tim Ream to the edge of the penalty area. Steffen dived quickly to make a finger-tip save on a Shayne Lavery breakaway. The goal he conceded was a well-struck rocket high into the net.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)

6
Zack Steffen (Manchester City/ENG) 21/0 (25)

DEFENDERS

Tim Ream's patience on the ball and crisp pass helped set up the first U.S. goal and he fed Bryan Reynolds on the sequence to Christian Pulisic's penalty kick. Aaron Long and Matt Miazga both made some key tackles and won headers. Miazga lapsed when it seemed he could have prevented the ball reaching Niall McGinn on Northern Ireland's consolation goal.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)

5
Matt Miazga (Anderlecht/BEL) 21/1 (25)

6 
Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls) 20/3 (28)

6
Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG) 42/1 (33) 

MIDFIELDERS

Neither Sergino Dest nor Yunus Musah sparkled as they did against Jamaica on Thursday but they helped create a cohesive American midfield before being subbed at halftime. Most of Northern Ireland's first-half threats started with Kellyn Acosta's miscues, but he improved in the second half before departing in the 74th minute. A better hit pass across the goalmouth from Antonee Robinson could have led to an earlier U.S. lead. His next good foray down the wing ended with his pass intercepted. He kept up his attacks in the second half, contributing the U.S. pressure on Northern Ireland that tamed its comeback attempt. Robinson surged late in the game, including some maneuvering out of the back through the Northern Irish that led to a Daryl Dike chance.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)

6 
Sergino Dest (Barcelona/ESP) 6/1 (20)

6 
Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP) 3/0 (18)

4
Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids) 26/2 (25)

6 
Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG) 10/0 (23)

FORWARDS

Gio Reyna's swift juke left Conor McLaughlin behind before unleashing a 23-yard shot that hit the net via a deflection to make it 1-0. Reyna floated cleverly into the right positions to take a playmaking role. He frequently entered the penalty area, such as when he smoothly controlled a long pass from Aaron Long and laid the ball off for a Jordan Siebatcheu shot. Early in the 50th minute, Reyna hit a good pass while tackled in his own half, then sprinted 60 yards to receive a Christian Pulisic pass and won a corner kick. Pulisic buried the penalty kick after getting fouled by Danny Ballard. Pulisic frequently picked up balls in the midfield, his dribbling kept the Northern Irish on their heels, and he sent a perfect through pass for a Daryl Dike chance.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)

8
Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER) 4/2 (18)

5 
Jordan Siebatcheu (Young Boys/SUI) 2/0 (24)

8
Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG) 36/15 (22)

SUBSTITUTES

Daryl Dike looked threatening upon entering in 62nd minute, was denied twice by goalkeeper Conor Hazard, and delivered a smart pass under high pressure to send Robinson on a breakaway. Bryan Reynolds passed to Pulisic before the penalty kick and after roasting Ciaron Brown delivered a pass for the Sebastian Lletget blast that went straight to the goalkeeper. Brenden Aaronson sparked swift attacks in the 71st and 73rd minutes.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)

5 
Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy) 19/5 (28)

6 
Bryan Reynolds (Roma/ITA) 1/0 (19)

5
Chris Richards (Hoffenheim/GER) 3/0 (21)

5 
Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg/AUT) 4/2 (20)

5 
Daryl Dike (Barnsley/ENG) 2/0 (20)

6
Luca de la Torre (Heracles/NED) 3/0 (22)

TRIVIA: The victory marked the USA's first away win over a European foe since beating Germany in June 2015.

March 28 in Belfast
Northern Ireland 1 USA 2. Goals: Reyna 30, Pulisic 59 (pen); McGinn 88.
Northern Ireland -- Hazard; McLaughlin, Ballard (Smith, 79), Brown; Kennedy (McGinn, 70), Thompson, Saville (McCann, 60), Evans (McNair, 60), Ferguson (Lewis, 60); Lafferty, Lavery (Charles, 60).
USA -- Steffen; Long (Richards, 62), Miazga, Ream; Dest (Reynolds, 46), Acosta (de la Torre, 74), Musah (Lletget, 46), Robinson; Reyna (Aaronson, 62), Siebatcheu (Dike, 62), Pulisic.
Yellow cards: Northern Ireland -- Saville 43. USA --- none. Red cards: none.
Referee: Robert Jenkins (Wales).

Stats:
Northern Ireland/USA
Shots: 9/9
Shots on target: 3/5
Saves: 2/2
Corner Kicks: 2/5
Fouls: 11/16
Offside: 1/1
Possession: 39%/61%

7 comments about "Northern Ireland-USA Men's Friendly Player Ratings".
  1. John Richardson, March 28, 2021 at 5:41 p.m.

    Love seeing the new look.  Glad the old guard of Altidore, Bradley, Zardes etc are gone

  2. Wooden Ships replied, March 28, 2021 at 5:53 p.m.

    Damn John, hope you didn't just jinx it. 

  3. Santiago 1314, March 28, 2021 at 6:12 p.m.

    Lots of Quick, Clever Offensive Players... Not sure about the  Defenders ... Really like De La Torre... Not sure where he fits IN ... Good Game Overall... Glad to see Coach is Flexible to the addium... Build your team around the Players you have,  not what you Want.!!!...Congrats to Team and Coach

  4. Seth Vieux replied, March 29, 2021 at 4:48 p.m.

    I'm hoping that Luca carved out a role going forward, think he's got the ability to be a big contributor in much the same way I think about Aaronson. They bring something different and useful for second half subs and situational starts.

  5. Andrew Megas, March 28, 2021 at 10:43 p.m.

    This was Northern Ireland's Reserves folks. USA looked pretty clueless for the first 30 minutes in that formation. Long balls into our back three were scary. Nice to see them figure things out as the match progressed. Reyna, Musa & Dest seem a step ahead of the others in terms of where/when to play. Hopefully Pulisic will trust his teammates more, and once McKennie is back on board the front 6 looks promising. Besides Brooks, backline 3 is iffy at best. Steffen looks stiff. That might be a problem in qualifying later on...

  6. Kent James, March 28, 2021 at 11:51 p.m.

    A decent showing against another undermanned opponent, but at least we put a dent in the idea that we can't beat even mediocre teams in Europe.  Acosta was as bad today as he was good last game.  Reyna, Dest, Pulisic are all the type of players we've been looking for.  Aaronson, Musa and Dike have also impressed.  Not the prettiest game, but you need to learn how to win the ugly ones too, so well done.

  7. frank schoon, March 29, 2021 at 9:14 a.m.

    What can I say or what can you against an Irish reserve team with a quite a few 30year olds.  What are you suppose to prove playing teams like that. Kent describes this team as a mediocre European team...that's quite a compliment for this team, and gave the word mediocrity a new meaning. To base the success of our on this by playing the likes of Jamaica, N.Ireland, I find it pathetic.

    You know who was missing in this N.Ireland game was Sargent. I think he would have done very well here. Laforde, the #9 does not impress me, one iota. I have no idea what he offers to our team other than standing around like a tree. He just doesn't have the 'skillset', LOLOLOL. I love these terminologies employed by these coaches and announcers. 'Skillset' is a word that seems often applied in discussions, but are meaningless although it sounds you really know what you're talking about. I would like just once to be there in the booth with these announcers and ask point blank, "what exactly is the skillset this player misses?" You notice they never go beyond explaining to the viewer enumerating the points of the skillset needed.

    Musah, needs to understand that he is a midfielder first and should understand the basic role of what a midfielder's role is. This kid De La Torre who plays in Holland is more what a midfielder should be like and he would give our midfield more balance, but Musah, and Acosta together is not balanced ,for they are too similar. Note how De la Torre is more positioned/ pass movement oriented where as Musah, Acosta, are strictly ball and action oriented. Did you see in minute 4 how Musah makes a runs full the speed with the ball , typical Turbo, and runs right into the right centerback standing and waiting for him and loses the ball...Musah has a habit of sort of delivering the ball UPS style, and he alway passes in the direction of his dribble which so many others do as well.

    Our defense ,especially our centerbacks, need to understand not to pass to our midfielders who have their backs facing downfield for it not only slows the game down but it can create dangerous circumstances such ball loss around midfield. Miazga is players that shouldn't have the ball, especailly when dribbles with it towards midfield...not smart.

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