BELFAST, Northern Ireland (March 28, 2021) – A goal in the first half from Gio Reyna and a penalty kick score in the second from Christian Pulisic helped lift the U.S. Men’s National Team to a solid 2-1 victory against Northern Ireland on Sunday evening at the National Stadium at Windsor Park.
For the 18-year-old Reyna, the goal marked his second in four career senior international matches while Pulisic became the 13th MNT player to reach 15 career goals. The goal was Pulisic’s first for the USMNT since 2019.
The win – which extends the USA’s unbeaten streak to nine (8-0-1) – was the USA’s first against a European opponent on the road since June 10, 2015, when the Americans defeated defending World Cup champion Germany. It also snapped an 11-game away winless streak dating back to a victory against Cuba on Oct. 7, 2016.
Playing with three center backs and two wing backs for the first time since 2019, the U.S nearly opened the scoring within minutes when Pulisic played left wing back Antonee Robinson into the penalty box. Robinson whipped in a cross that skidded across the goalmouth just out of the reach of two U.S. attacking players.
In a match that was at times physical, Northern Ireland caused the USA a few nervy moments on set pieces, but the defense was up to the task and prevented any clear attempts on frame.
The U.S. broke through after 30 minutes when Reyna took a pass from defender Tim Ream and ripped a shot from 24 yards out almost exactly in the middle of the field. The shot took a big deflection off a Northern Irish defender and plowed into the net past wrong-footed goalkeeper Conor Hazard.
After Northern Ireland forced a diving save from USA goalkeeper Zack Steffen, Reyna and newcomer Jordan Siebatcheu – making his first start for the USMNT – nearly combined for a goal. Reyna did well to bring down a long ball with his chest, setting up Siebatcheu’s first-time shot from 18. However Northern Ireland defender Daniel Ballard’s last second lunge blocked the blast.
The U.S. took greater control of the match in the second half with Pulisic in particular very active all over the field. The USA captain was rewarded near the hour mark when he was tripped in the area and converted the penalty kick for his first goal with the USMNT since October 11, 2019 against Cuba. His 15 goals now ties him with National Soccer Hall of Famer Cobi Jones for 12th all-time.
USA second half substitute Daryl Dike was unlucky not to extend the lead as the thundering forward was twice denied by Hazard with Pulisic the catalyst on each occasion. On the first chance, he played a seeing-eye through ball between lines to spring Dike, who close-range shot was kick-saved at the last moment by the Northern Irish goalkeeper. Pulisic then found Luca de la Torre in the middle, who helped off a defender, advanced forward with speed, and slipped a ball to Dike into the penalty area. His low shot at the near post again forced Hazard to again make a great save. Dike also barely missed on a flicked header that flew inches outside the right post.
Northern Ireland cut into the lead late in the match with a well-taken goal from Niall McGinn as his powerful strike from a sharp angle flew over U.S. goalkeeper Zack Steffen, but the USA did well to close out the match to win its third game of the year.
The USMNT will next take on No. 16-ranked Switzerland on May 30 in St. Gallen. The match will be shown live on the ESPN and Univision networks from kybunpark with the kickoff still time to be finalized.
That match will serve as a final tune up for three significant competitions, starting with the Concacaf Nations League Final Four where the USMNT will face Honduras in one semifinal while Mexico and Costa Rica will square off in the other. The winners compete for the inaugural Nations League title. The matches are scheduled for the FIFA window in the first week of June, with the venues and times still to be determined.
The following month, the U.S. will compete in the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup in search of its seventh Confederation title, followed by the start of Concacaf 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying in September.
GOAL SCORING RUNDOWN:
USA – GIO REYNA (TIM REAM), 30th minute: Having done well to keep possession up high, the U.S. broke through at the half hour mark off the right foot of Gio Reyna. Veteran defender Tim Ream settled the ball up field on the left side, and with little pressure calmly played Reyna in the center of the field. The 18-year-old lost his mark with a quick dribble to the inside to create separation and fired a shot from 24 yards out that took a deflection off defender Ciaron Brown and settled in the back of the net as goalkeeper Conor Hazard had already committed the other way. For Ream, it was his fourth career assist. NIR 0, USA 1
USA – CHRISTIAN PULISIC (PENALTY KICK), 59th minute: A quick developing play saw Reyna find Jordan Siebatcheu at the top of the box. In his first start, Siebatcheu laid off the ball to the on-rushing Pulisic, who took a touch towards center and was cut down by the foot of defender Daniel Ballard. Pulisic stepped up and hit a low shot just right of center past Hazard for his 15th career goal and first since 2019. NIR 0, USA 2
NIR– NIALL MCGINN (KYLE LAFFERTY), 88th minute: Northern Ireland spoiled the clean sheet with a blast in the dying minutes. Receiving a long ball into the box, Lafferty held off two USA defenders and slightly advanced the ball on the right to McGinn, who hit a first-time dipping volley from a tight angle over Steffen that hit the underside of the crossbar on its way into the net to cut the lead in half. NIR 1, USA 2
KEY SAVES AND DEFENSIVE PLAYS:
USA– ZACK STEFFEN, 38th minute: Northern Ireland’s Jordan Thompson’s first-time pass from midfield sprung teammate Shayne Lavery towards the U.S. end just right of center. With center back Matt Miazga in his way, Lavery was still able to get off a shot from 18 yards out across his body, forcing Steffen to quickly stretch out to his right to parry the shot away.
Christian Pulisic scored his 15th career international goal, tying Cobi Jones for 12th on the USMNT’s all-time scoring list.
Eighteen-year-old Gio Reyna recorded his second goal in four appearances.
Veteran defender Tim Ream recorded his fourth career assist on Reyna’s goal.
Roma right back Bryan Reynolds made his USMNT debut, coming off the bench to start the second half. Reynolds is the 44th player to debut in the 25 matches under Gregg Berhalter.
USMNT Starting XI Cap Numbers (including this match): Tim Ream (42), Christian Pulisic (36), Kellyn Acosta (27), Aaron Long (21), Matt Miazga (21), Zack Steffen (21), Antonee Robinson (10), Sergiño Dest (7), Yunus Musah (4), Gio Reyna (4), Jordan Siebatcheu (2)
Today’s Starting XI had an average age of 24 years, 116 days and 18 caps.
Five starters were age 23 or younger: Robinson (23), Pulisic (22), Dest (20), Musah and Reyna (both 18)
Gregg Berhalter made four changes to the starting XI from the lineup that faced Jamaica on Thursday, slotting in defenders Matt Miazga, Tim Ream and Antonee Robinson and forward Jordan Siebatcheu
The USA lineup represented clubs in five different countries: England (4), Spain (2), USA (2), Belgium (1), Germany (1) and Switzerland (1)
Christian Pulisic captained the USMNT for the fourth time tonight. He last wore the armband in the 7-0 Concacaf Nations League win against Cuba on Oct. 11, 2019 in Washington, D.C. The USMNT is now 3-1-0 when Pulisic has captained the team.
Yunus Musah earned his fourth cap tonight and is now officially tied to the United States for international competition.
After making his USMNT debut on Thursday against Jamaica, Jordan Siebatcheu earned his first international start tonight. He is the first Swiss-based player to start a match for the USMNT. Siebatcheu wears the name “Pefok” on the back of his jersey, which is his mother’s maiden name.
After partnering in central defense during the USA’s 6-2 win against Panama last November, Matt Miazga and Tim Ream returned to the lineup alongside Aaron Long in a three center back setup today. The USMNT last lined up with three in the back on June 5, 2019 against Jamaica.
Aaron Long started his fourth consecutive USMNT match, while Kellyn Acosta got the nod for a third-straight contest.
Antonee Robinson made his 10th USMNT appearance in tonight’s match.
The USMNT looks for its first away win since Oct. 7, 2016, against Cuba. It will also seek its first away win against a European opponent since June 10, 2015, against then defending World Cup champion Germany.
Gregg Berhalter has a 17-5-3 record as USMNT head coach and the team is in the midst of an nine-game unbeaten run (8-0-1) –the longest during his tenure.
The USMNT is now 1-1-0 against Northern Ireland. The first meeting occurred on Aug. 11, 1948, with the USA losing 5-0 in Belfast following the Summer Olympics in London.
– U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report –
Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Northern Ireland
Date: March 28, 2021
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: National Football Stadium at Windsor Park; Belfast, Northern Ireland
Attendance: No Fans Permitted
Kickoff: 12:05 p.m. ET / 5:05 p.m. local
Weather: 57 degrees; cloudy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 1 2
NIR 0 1 1
USA – Gio Reyna (Tim Ream) 30th minute
USA – Christian Pulisic (Penalty Kick) 59
NIR – Niall McGinn (Kyle Lafferty) 88
USA: 1-Zack Steffen; 3-Aaron Long (15-Chris Richards, 63), 4-Matt Miazga, 13-Tim Ream; 2-Sergiño Dest (19-Bryan Reynolds, 46), 23-Kellyn Acosta (12-Luca de la Torre, 74), 8-Yunus Musah (17-Sebastian Lletget, 46), 5-Antonee Robinson; 7-Gio Reyna (11-Brenden Aaronson, 63), 16-Jordan Siebatcheu (21-Daryl Dike, 63), 10-Christian Pulisic (Capt.)
Subs not used: 22-Ethan Horvath, 25-Chituru Odunze, 9-Josh Sargent, 14-Owen Otasowie, 18-Christian Cappis, 24-Erik Palmer-Brown
Head coach: Gregg Berhalter
NIR: 1-Conor Hazard; 5-Matty Kennedy (7-Niall McGinn, 67), 4-Daniel Ballard (19-Michael Smith, 78), 2-Conor McLaughlin, 22-Ciaron Brown; 15-Jordan Thompson, 6-George Saville (16-Alistair McCann, 60), 13-Corry Evans (17-Paddy McNair, 60), 11-Shane Ferguson (3-Jamal Lewis, 60); 10-Kyle Lafferty (Capt.), 9-Shayne Lavery (8-Dion Charles, 60)
Subs not used: 12-Bailey Peacock-Farrell, 23-Liam Hughes, 14-Stuart Dallas, 18-Gavin Whyte, 20-Craig Cathcart, 21-Josh Magennis
Head coach: Ian Baraclough
Stats Summary: USA / NIR
Shots: 9 / 9
Shots on Goal: 5 / 3
Saves: 2 / 2
Corner Kicks: 5 / 2
Fouls: 16 / 11
Offside: 1 / 1
NIR – George Saville (Caution) 43rd minute
Referee: Robert Jenkins (WAL)
AR1: Daniel Beckett (WAL)
AR2: Johnathon Bryant (WAL)
4th Official: Thomas Owen (WAL)
U.S. Soccer Insiders Man of the Match: Christian Pulisic