Young USMNT shows edge, lacks finish in Wales draw

Nicholas Mendola
·4 min read

Wales – USMNT: The United States men’s national team hit the pitch for its first match in 10 months, controlling hosts Wales but failing to score in a goalless draw in Swansea.

Giovanni Reyna, Yunus Musah, and Konrad de la Fuente made their USMNT debuts as part of the Starting XI, while Johnny Cardoso, Richy Ledezma, and Nicholas Gioacchini came off the bench to earn their first caps.

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The USMNT next meets Panama for a friendly at 2:45 pm ET Monday in Austria.

Wales has two home UEFA Nations League matches: Sunday versus the Republic of Ireland and Wednesday versus Finland.

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Here’s everything you need to know from Wales – USMNT.

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Wales – USMNT recap

The Yanks led an early charge up the left that led to a blocked cross on a rainy night in Swansea.

Wales won a corner and Cardiff City’s Kieffer Moore boosted himself off of Sebastian Lletget’s shoulder but couldn’t turn his header on frame.

Weston McKennie hit a delightful, incisive pass to send Sergino Dest toward the right corner, but his invitation into the 18 was juggled and lost by Sebastian Lletget.

Antonee Robinson was wobbly early and needed terrific make-up speed to join John Brooks in stopping Schalke’s Rabbi Matondo in the 19th minute.

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Konrad de la Fuente, wearing ‘Konrad’ on his shirt, was taken down off a terrific turn to provide a good free kick opportunity on the left.

Zack Steffen faced his first shot when Tom Lawrence smashed a 32nd-minute shot into his arms.

The Yanks’ high press asked a lot of Wales, and Konrad’s opportunistic in-tight chance sailed over the frame.

McKennie led a charge down the right that finished with fine pass to Lletget, whose back heel was caught by Ward.

The Yanks were still in charge after the break, but Steffen needed to make a very good save when Robinson was caught on the left side.

Adams and De la Fuente left in the 71st minutes to provide chances for Uly Llanez and debutant Johnny Cardoso.

Llanez almost immediately tested Ward with a takeaway and near-post shot that was pushed out for a corner.

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Lineup breakdowns

Wales did not use Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey, and Hal Robson-Kanu while the Yanks were without Christian Pulisic and Jordan Morris.

It was difficult to diagnose Wales’ formation early, as the barely had the ball, but a 4-2-3-1 seems about right. Leicester City’s Danny Ward was in goal while Cardiff City’s Liverpool loanee Harry Wilson and Schalke’s Rabbi Matondo led the attack.

The U.S. started three teenage debutants in Reyna (Borussia Dortmund), Musah (Valencia), and Konrad (Barcelona). Berhalter opted to play his lone MLS player, Sebastian Lletget, out of position as a false nine in what looked to be a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1. Weston McKennie was given a lot of freedom in the middle of the park (and responded with his most complete game in a U.S. senior shirt).

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McKenni (Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images)

Describing the debutants

Giovanni Reyna — started, played 78 minutes — One of the best talents in the pool, Reyna’s looked a little worn down at time in recent weeks with Borussia Dortmund. He had some great moments Thursday but could use a week off.

Yunus Musah — started, played 78 minutes — Fluid and edgy at 17, if he wants to commit to the USMNT you make sure he has the paperwork and knows where to send it.

Konrad de la Fuente — started, played 71 minutes — A little too busy early but some very quick turns and smart moves.

Johnny Cardoso — 71st minute sub — A dangerous foul on Daniel James, Johnny wasn’t intimidated in his 20 minutes.

Nicholas Gioacchini — 79th minute sub — The center forward’s most notable contribution was a physical battle with Daniel James deep in the U.S. corner.

Owen Otasowie — 87th minute sub — N/A

Premier League players in action

USMNT

Antonee Robinson, Fulham — 90 minutes
Zack Steffen, Man City — 90 minutes
Matt Miazga, Chelsea (loaned to Anderlecht) — started, played 87 minutes.
Owen Otasowie, Wolves — 87th minute sub

Wales

Harry Wilson, Liverpool (loaned to Cardiff City) — started
Matthew Smith, Man City (loaned to Doncaster Rovers) — started, played 45 minutes
Dylan Levitt, Manchester United (loaned to Charlton) — started,
Daniel James, Manchester United — sub entered in 62nd minute

Men of the Match

First half: John Brooks. At least one writer argued before the game that USMNT fans might finally see the giant, ball-moving, legit center back for what he’s been at Wolfsburg the last three seasons, in which injuries limited him to just six U.S. caps. He was dynamite in the first 45 minutes, one of the Bundesliga’s top long ball artists out of the back showing just that while marshaling the back line.

Second half: Weston McKennie. The Juve man grew up a ton in these last 10 months. He was good in the first half, too, showing his Serie A stuff by driving the attack from midfield.

Young USMNT shows edge, lacks finish in Wales draw originally appeared on NBCSports.com