The U.S. men's national team got its CONCACAF Nations League campaign off to a winning start with a commanding 7-0 victory over Cuba on Friday night at Audi Field in Washington.
Weston McKennie scored a hat trick inside 13 minutes, including the second-fastest goal in USMNT history, while Jordan Morris netted one of his own and added three assists. Nineteen-year-old Josh Sargent got his name on the score sheet, Christian Pulisic converted a penalty and Dario Ramos turned in an own goal off his face.
The U.S. will continue its Nations League slate Tuesday against Canada in Toronto.
The U.S. men's national team was in need of a convincing victory to restore any sense of enthusiasm around the program, and a 7-0 score line is nothing if not that. McKennie and Morris were active and opportunistic going forward, and Jackson Yueill was very bright from the base of midfield.
With a 4-0 lead after 13 minutes, the U.S. took its foot off the gas. Two goals in three minutes as the first half wound down obscured the notion that the Americans looked largely content for the final half-hour of the period. Between that and the quality of opposition, it's difficult to learn much about the U.S. from this outing.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- It's hard to find fault in management that yielded a 7-0 victory. Gregg Berhalter had Morris and McKennie primed to exploit a Cuba defense that had set up in a compact shape, conceding width, and it was play on the flanks that enabled the U.S. to race out to that 4-0 lead. His faith in Sargent and Yueill looked particularly prudent.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
DF Reggie Cannon, 8 -- Had little to occupy him defensively, but regularly got forward to work in tandem with Morris, twice sending his flankmate in behind the Cuban defense and leading to goals.
DF Matt Miazga, 6 -- Won his aerial duels but did little else of note in a match during which he was never seriously challenged.
DF Tim Ream, 7 -- Progressed the ball well from the back, which was his most telling contribution of the evening.
DF Daniel Lovitz, 6 -- Like the rest of the back line, was never troubled by Cuba's attack, but didn't have the same impact going forward as Cannon.
MF Jackson Yueill, 8 -- Routinely found McKennie and Morris with long balls from deep, demonstrating a vision and range of passing that could make him a unique asset at the base of the American midfield.
MF Cristian Roldan, 6 -- The least impactful midfielder by some distance, Roldan struggled to find pockets of space in the middle of the park or play incisive passes, but he circulated the ball well enough.
MF Weston McKennie, 10 -- Scored the second-fastest goal in U.S. men's national team history, after just 32 seconds, en route to a hat trick inside 13 minutes, while adding an assist and orchestrating Cuba's own goal. An impressive 45 minutes of work in an advanced role from the Schalke midfielder.
FW Christian Pulisic, 6 -- Decision-making was suspect, frequently was dispossessed in one-on-one situations and his creation was slightly off the mark. Converted a penalty to put his name on the score sheet, but was otherwise the weak link of the U.S. attack.
FW Josh Sargent, 8 -- Put Cuba's defenders under pressure at every opportunity, took up intelligent positions and took his goal extremely smartly. Did the groundwork to put his fellow attackers in promising positions.
FW Jordan Morris, 9 -- Had acres and acres and acres of space to exploit on either flank, and used the opportunity to register a hat trick of assists and score a goal of his own. Given the rest of the night off after the interval.
FW Paul Arriola, 6 -- Replaced McKennie at the interval and regularly pumped in balls from the left flank and looked for combination play in the channel.
FW Tyler Boyd, 5 -- Came on for Morris at halftime, but couldn't find the same joy that was on offer on the right wing in the first half.
MF Sebastian Lletget, 5 -- Took Pulisic's place with 22 minutes remaining, but couldn't make his mark on the contest.