Pulisic rises to the occasion as USMNT now prepares for Mexico
On an odd night in Nashville, Tennessee, the United States men's national team prevailed over Jamaica 3-1 in the semifinal round of the 2019 Gold Cup via goals from Weston McKennie and Christian Pulisic. While far from comfortable, the Americans finished Wednesday's game strong and advanced to face Mexico in a much-anticipated final in Chicago on Sunday.
In spurts, the Americans showed a verve and cohesiveness that speaks to more comfort with coach Gregg Berhalter's system. Jozy Altidore showed what a quality center forward can add to the team, and Reggie Cannon emerged as a viable right back option with a very good night. Pulisic again showed that this is his team.
Jamaica exposed defensive frailties, particularly with long balls that stressed the American back line. If the Reggae Boyz had been just a little sharper in the final third, the result might have been very different. Apparent dips in concentration and an inability to connect passes from back to front provided Jamaica chances to break.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- Berhalter's task was made more difficult by the 90-minute weather delay, which robbed the USMNT of early momentum and allowed Jamaica to make tactical adjustments. Intervals where the energy dropped and the Americans failed to press the advantage might speak to a lack of clarity on how to play through the midfield. Berhalter made the smart, pragmatic choice to substitute Altidore and save him for Sunday's final.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 the best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Zack Steffen, 7 -- Made three strong saves. Confident with the ball and in distribution.
DF Reggie Cannon, 7 -- Excellent on both ends of the field, minus a few mistakes with passing. Played the perfect one-time ball across to set up McKennie's goal.
DF Aaron Long, 6 -- Better of the two center backs. Very good in the first half. Handled Jamaica's speed well but was bailed out by a foul on a Jamaica counter in the 55th minute.
DF Matt Miazga, 5 -- Struggled with distribution out of the back following Jamaica's tactical shift. Turned the ball over before losing his mark on Jamaica's goal in the 69th minute.
DF Tim Ream, 5 -- Worked hard to deal with speedy threats from the wing but was often a step slow and overly hesitant. Failed to close down Leon Bailey on Jamaica's goal.
MF Michael Bradley, 7 -- Provided the platform for the U.S. to spring forward. Did yeoman's work in defense and slowed Jamaica through the middle with regularity. Excellent playing the ball forward.
MF Jordan Morris 6 -- Struggled to get involved in the first half, improved in the second 45. Hit the shot that led to the second U.S. goal. Too reactive with runs off the ball.
MF Weston McKennie, 8 -- Played deeper to good effect, particularly with late runs from the midfield, as with the opening goal. Less influential defensively, but not a liability.
MF Christian Pulisic, 9 -- Another performance leading the attack for the USMNT. Scored both goals from rebounds but created the second with a darting dribble into the box.
MF Paul Arriola, 6 -- Work rate good but not as sharp as needed. Combined with Pulisic to good effect. Forced the save that resulted in Pulisic's rebound goal to put the game away.
FW Jozy Altidore, 7 -- Involved in most of the quality attacks created by the Americans. Earned assist on the first U.S. goal. Dropped in to pick up passes and provide focal point. Added physical edge on both sides of the ball.
FW Gyasi Zardes, 3 -- Wasted a gilt-edged chance to put the game away shortly after coming on. Failed to provide quality hold-up play. Turned the ball over leading to Jamaica's goal.
MF Cristian Roldan, NR -- Made himself available to aid holding possession down the stretch of the game. Showed a willingness to drive toward goal and open up space for teammates.
DF Daniel Lovitz, NR -- Defended in a short cameo. A step slow but recovered well.