PREVIEW: USMNT facing Northern Ireland on Sunday in Belfast
CHICAGO — Following a 4-1 win against Jamaica, the USMNT meets Northern Ireland on Sunday in the last match before the summer of competition that includes the Nations League Final Four, the Gold Cup and the start of World Cup Qualifying.
The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast will be site of the first meeting in more than 70 years, set for Sunday, March 28 at 12 p.m. ET with coverage on FOX, UniMás and TUDN.
USMNT DETAILED ROSTED BY POSITION (CLUB; CAPS/GOALS):
GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge/BEL; 4/0), Chituru Odunze (Leicester City/ENG; 0/0), Zack Steffen (Manchester City/ENG; 20/0)
DEFENDERS (8): Sergiño Dest (Barcelona/ESP; 6/1), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 20/3), Matt Miazga (Anderlecht/BEL; 20/1), Erik Palmer-Brown (Austria Wien/AUT; 2/0), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 41/1), Bryan Reynolds (Roma/ITA; 0/0), Chris Richards (Hoffenheim/GER; 2/0), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 9/0)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg/AUT; 3/2), Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 26/2), Christian Cappis (Hobro IK/DEN; 0/0), Luca de la Torre (Heracles/NED; 2/0), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 19/6), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 3/0), Owen Otasowie (Wolverhampton Wanderers/ENG; 1/0)
FORWARDS (5): Daryl Dike (Barnsley/ENG; 1/0), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 35/14), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 3/1), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen/GER; 13/5), Jordan Siebatcheu (Young Boys/SUI; 1/0)
THE BIG MO
The USMNT has been building momentum towards the start of World Cup Qualifying, albeit in fits and starts due to the global pandemic. With the win against Jamaica, the United States extended its unbeaten run to eight matches, the longest during Berhalter’s tenure. The team has posted a 7-0-1 record dating back to Nov. 15, 2019, and the 4-1 win against Canada in the Nations League.
WELCOME TO THE SCORESHEET
Several players put their name on different categories on the scoresheet for the first time during the USA’s victory on Thursday night. Sergiño Dest opened his scoring account with a wonder strike in the 20th minute, tallying his third goal of the week after scoring twice for Barcelona. Meantime, all four goals included first-time providers, as Luca de la Torre, Nicholas Gioacchini, Yunus Musah and Josh Sargent recorded assists. Remarkably, the only other time this feat was accomplished in a USMNT match came just three months ago in the 6-0 win against El Salvador in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
FOUR FOR FOUR…
With a brace against Jamaica, USMNT midfielder Sebastian Lletget now has recorded four goals in his last four international matches. He came off the bench and added an insurance goal in the 6-2 win against Panama last November – also in Wiener Neustadt – then followed up with a strike in the 6-0 shutout of El Salvador. With six goals and 19 caps to his credit, Lletget is the only USMNT player in all six matches since the start of 2020.
…THREE FOR THREE
Brenden Aaronson has made the most of his three appearances for the USMNT, recording two goals and an assist so far. He set up the aforementioned Lletget on his goal against El Salvador in December, who then returned the favor by teeing up his fellow midfielder for the game’s final goal. Making the move to Red Bull Salzburg in January, Aaronson is now under the tutelage of former USMNT assistant coach Jesse Marsch, where they continue to thrive. Coming on at the start of the second half against Jamaica, he made an immediate impact when he finished off a lovely interchange with Josh Sargent just inside the six-yard box for his second international goal and second in as many matches.
USMNT head coach Berhalter has given more opportunities to new players than any other modern era USMNT head coach at this point in their tenure. To this point, 43 players have made their international debut during his first 24 matches at the helm of the program. Jordan Siebatcheu became the latest member of the USMNT cap club when he entered in the 82nd minute in the win against Jamaica this past Thursday. Three additional players have the opportunity to earn their first caps in the match against Northern Ireland: Christian Cappis, Chituru Odunze, and Bryan Reynolds.
Three players departed camp following the Jamaica match, as defenders John Brooks and Reggie Cannon were joined by forward Nicholas Gioacchini in returning to their clubs. Brooks and Cannon went the distance in Wiener Neustadt, Austria, while Gioacchini entered in the 68th minute and assisted on the first of Sebastian Lletget’s two goals.
AGAINST NORTHERN IRELAND
It’s been more than 70 years since the only meeting between the United States and Northern Ireland, a 5-0 victory for the hosts on Aug. 11, 1948, in Belfast. Led by Leicester City defender Jonathan Evans, the squad is typically comprised of players appearing in the top two divisions in England. Rangers midfielder Steven Davis serves as captain and is the leading cap-winner in team history with 124 appearances.
ACTION-PACKED 2021 FOR USMNT PROGRAMS
Sunday’s match against Northern Ireland continues a packed year for the USMNT and U-23 USMNT. The first major tournament is already underway, with the U-23s now having advanced to the semifinals of the Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship where they will face Honduras several hours after the MNT match for the right to represent the USA for its first Olympic appearance since 2008.
Following a friendly window in March, the USMNT will play in the Final Four of the inaugural Concacaf Nations League in June, its first opportunity of the year to lift a trophy. Shortly after, the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup kicks off in July, the second edition of the expanded 16-team tournament format. In September, the USA will embark on the new World Cup qualification process for Concacaf, an eight-team round robin competition that will send three teams to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
LAST TIME OUT
The U.S. Men’s National Team continued its positive run of form with a convincing 4-1 victory against Jamaica on Friday night in an international friendly played at Wiener Neustadt Stadion in Austria.
Sparked by a stunning debut goal from left back Sergiño Dest in the 34th minute that pierced the Jamaica bunker, the USA also added second-half goals from substitute Brenden Aaronson and Sebastian Lletget – who bagged his first brace in a U.S. jersey – to extend its unbeaten run to eight matches.
USA: 1-Zack Steffen (Capt.); 20-Reggie Cannon, 3-Aaron Long (15-Chris Richards, 46), 6-John Brooks, 2-Sergiño Dest (5-Antonee Robinson, 67); 8-Yunus Musah (12-Luca de la Torre, 73), 23-Kellyn Acosta, 17-Sebastian Lletget; 7-Gio Reyna (26-Nicholas Gioacchini, 68), 9-Josh Sargent (16-Jordan Siebatcheu, 82), 10-Christian Pulisic (11-Brenden Aaronson, 46)
Subs not used: 22-Ethan Horvath, 25-Chituru Odunze, 13-Tim Ream, 18-Christian Cappis, 19-Bryan Reynolds, 24-Erik Palmer-Brown
- Both Christian Pulisic and Josh Sargent made their long-awaited returns for the USMNT. Pulisic last appeared in the Concacaf Nations League away match at Canada on Oct. 15, 2019. Sargent’s last run-out for the USMNT came about a month later, when he bagged two goals in the team’s 4-0 win against Cuba to round out Nations League group play on Nov. 19, 2019 in the Cayman Islands.
- Zack Steffen captained the USMNT for the fourth time. He last wore the armband in the 0-0 draw with Wales on Nov. 12, 2020 in Swansea.
- John Brooks and Aaron Long partnered in central defense for the third time tonight. The veteran defenders also helped the USA win each of their previous matches together – a 1-0 win against Ecuador on March 22, 2019 and 4-1 Concacaf Nations League win against Canada on Nov. 15, 2019.
- Kellyn Acosta, Sebastian Lletget and Aaron Long have played in the USA’s first two matches of the year, including the 7-0 win against Trinidad & Tobago on Jan. 31 in Orlando.
- The youngest player on the roster, 18-year-old midfielder Yunus Musah earned his first career assist and third cap in his first game since committing permanently to the USMNT on March 15.
- Fellow 18-year-old Gio Reyna also earned his fourth cap. Late last year, the Borussia Dortmund attacker scored his first international goal at Stadion Wiener Neustadt, putting home the USA’s opening goal via a direct free kick in the 6-2 win against Panama on Nov. 16, 2020.
- Jordan Siebatcheu, wearing his mother’s maiden name “Pefok” on the back of his jersey, made his first career appearance for the USMNT.
- Chris Richards now has two career caps, with both appearances coming at Stadion Wiener Neustadt. He made his debut off the bench to close out the 6-2 win against Panama last November.
- Substitutes Luca de la Torre earned his first career assist and second cap in his first USMNT appearances in nearly three years. He made his debut off the bench in a 2-1 loss to Ireland in June 2018.
- With the USMNT dressing 23 players, three players did not dress tonight: defender Matt Miazga, midfielder Owen Otasowie and forward Daryl Dike.
USA ROSTER NOTES
- Following the Jamaica match, defenders John Brooks (Wolfsburg) and Reggie Cannon (Boavista), as well as forward Nicholas Gioacchini (Caen) all returned to their respective clubs.
- Veteran center back Tim Ream (41 caps) is the most experienced international player on the roster, followed by Christian Pulisic (35), Kellyn Acosta (26), Aaron Long, Matt Miazga and Zack Steffen (20 each).
- All other players hold less than 20 caps, with 15 appearing nine or fewer times for the USMNT.
- Thirteen players are age 22 and younger.
- Players ply their trade in 10 different countries. England leads the way with seven, followed by Germany (4), USA (3), Austria, Belgium and Spain (2 each) and Denmark, Italy, Netherlands, and Switzerland (1 each)
- Twelve players have been part of a final U.S. roster at a FIFA Youth World Cup: Acosta, de la Torre, Dest, Miazga, Odunze, Palmer-Brown, Pulisic, Reyna, Reynolds, Richards, Sargent and Steffen
- Erik Palmer-Brown earned his first USMNT call-up under Gregg Berhalter. The Austria Wien center back has two caps to his name, last appearing in the USMNT’s 1-1 draw with France on June 9, 2018, in Lyon.
- Fresh off his Italian Serie A debut, defender Bryan Reynolds received his first senior-team call-up while a member of Roma.
- Reynolds joins midfielder Christian Cappis, and goalkeeper Chituru Odunze as the three uncapped players on the roster.
- Four players took part in this year’s January camp – the MLS based trio of Kellyn Acosta, Sebastian Lletget and Aaron Long, as well as Daryl Dike, who is currently playing on loan with Barnsley in the English Championship.
- Dike has collected five goals in 11 games since arriving in England, helping Barnsley to a 9-1-1 record in matches which he has appeared. Barnsley are currently fifth in the English League Championship table, occupying the second-to-last promotion playoff spot.
NORTHERN IRELAND ROSTER BY POSITION (CLUB; CAPS/GOALS)
GOALKEEPERS (4): Nathan Gartside (Derry City/IRL; 0/0), Conor Hazard (Celtic/SCO; 1/0), Liam Hughes (Liverpool/ENG; 0/0), Bailey Peacock-Farrell (Burnley/ENG; 19/0)
DEFENDERS (10): Daniel Ballard (Blackpool/ENG; 5/0), Ciaron Brown (Cardiff City/WAL; 1/0), Craig Cathart (Watford/ENG; 57/2), Stuart Dallas (Leeds United/ENG; 52/3), Jonny Evans (Leicester City/ENG; 89/4), Shane Ferguson (Millwall/ENG; 46/1), Jamal Lewis (Newcastle United/ENG; 18/0), Paddy McNair (Middlesbrough/ENG; 42/4), Conor McLaughlin (Sunderland/ENG; 42/1), Michael Smith (Hearts/SCO; 14/1)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Steven Davis (Rangers/SCO; 124/12), Corry Evans (Blackburn Rovers/ENG; 64/2), Matty Kennedy (Aberdeen/SCO; 1/0), Ali McCann (St. Johnstone/SCO; 2/0), Niall McGinn (Aberdeen/SCO; 62/5), George Saville (Middlesbrough/ENG; 26/0), Jordan Thompson (Stoke City/ENG; 12/0)
FORWARDS (6): Liam Boyce (Hearts/SCO; 27/2), Dion Charles (Accrington Stanley/ENG; 0/0), Kyle Lafferty (Kilmarnock/SCO; 79/20), Shane Lavery (Linfield; 5/0), Josh Magennis (Hull City/ENG; 57/8), Gavin Whyte (Hull City/ENG; 15/2)
IN FOCUS: NORTHERN IRELAND
Northern Ireland plays the friendly in between its first two qualifying matches for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The Green and White Army opened with a 2-0 loss on March 25 away to Group C top seed Italy and will follow with a home date on March 31 against Bulgaria in Windsor Park. They narrowly missed out on qualifying for the 2020 European Championship, falling to Slovakia in extra time of the Playoff Finals last November.
- Northern Ireland are coached by Ian Baraclough, who took over last year after serving as the U-21 coach.
- Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis – former club teammate of USMNT GM Brian McBride – will hope to break British international caps record, after equaling it with his 125th appearance against Italy. The record is currently held by former England goalkeeper Peter Shilton.
- Led by Leicester City defender Jonathan Evans, the squad is comprised of players appearing in the top two divisions in England and the Scottish Premier League