The USMNT narrowly beat El Salvador on Monday night in Orlando to book its spot in the CONCACAF Nations League Finals. Ricardo Pepi’s lone goal in the second half was all the Yanks needed to secure the win at Exploria Stadium. Now, the United States is in the final four of the competition.
Hudson makes massive changes to starting XI
Interim manager Anthony Hudson made a host of changes to his lineup that scorched Grenada on Friday. In fact, seven new players entered into the starting XI compared to the previous match. Sergiño Dest, Antonee Robinson, Miles Robinson, Tim Ream, Yunus Musah, Daryl Dike and Alex Zendejas all started against El Salvador.
The visitors nearly took an early lead on the night after Jairo Henriquez attempted a shot into the bottom corner of the net. However, USMNT No. 1 Matt Turner made a sprawling save to deny the Central Americans. The Arsenal shot-stopper was just barely able to get a fingertip on the shot and put the ball out for a corner kick.
USMNT into Nations League Finals with strong second half
After a fairly even first half, the USMNT picked up the pace in the second 45. In fact, Gio Reyna nearly put the hosts ahead straight after the start of the half. Christian Pulisic played in Reyna with a pass down the left flank. The Borussia Dortmund attacker picked up the ball near the edge of the penalty box, skipped past a defender, and put in a low shot that would beat the El Salvador keeper. The ball, however, would hit the post and go back towards safety.
Nevertheless, the hosts finally went ahead in the 62nd minute of the match. Pepi, who only just entered the fray two minutes beforehand, latched onto a gorgeous through ball by Weston McKennie and chipped the keeper to put the ball into the net. It was just the striker’s second touch of the game. Pepi now has three goals in his last two appearances for the USMNT.
With the lead now secure, the USMNT were comfortable in the remaining half an hour of the game. The Yanks now have a 22-match unbeaten streak against El Salvador. They will head to the Nations League Finals to be played in June. However, the USMNT will first face rivals Mexico on April 19th in Arizona. The upcoming fixture is the inaugural Allstate Continental Clásico.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Icon Sportswire
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