For ten minutes, the United States men's national team reminded everyone of the struggles they've had in 2015. Then their qualifying match against Saint Vincent and the Grenadines became the rout we all expected.
The USA recovered from an early opening goal from St. Vincent's and turned a calamity into a dominant performance that was expected of them as five players scored in a 6-1 victory from Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
But despite the scoreline, it was St. Vincent's who scored the opener in just the 6th minute and deservedly celebrated their effort. A bad turnover from Gyasi Zardes in the midfield led to a quick counter attack, easily the one thing the US needed to avoid against a weaker opponent. Oalex Anderson from USL's Seattle Sounders 2 beat DeAndre Yedlin one on one in the box and fired home past Brad Guzan.
It wouldn't take long for the US to restore order, and it's was in-form striker Bobby Wood who continued his fine form internationally with his fourth goal of the calender year and his career. DeAndre Yedlin sent in a cross from the right side and Wood used a flick header to guide the ball over St. Vincent keeper Winslow McDowall and level the scoreline.
Then the US started to pile on the pressure, but they were unable to break through on the run of play against the Vincy Heat. Michael Bradley fired a good shot from inside the box right to McDowall and Wood and Zardes both had good chances go wide. It would be set pieces that the US would finally capitalize on.
In the 29th minute Fabian Johnson, starting at left midfield in his first game since being sent home by Jurgen Klinsmann after the Mexico loss, fired in a free kick that took a slight deflection off the wall past a wrong footed McDowall. Two minutes later in the 31st, Jozy Altidore did an "around the world" routine on a corner kick, running inside the back of the goal to an unmarked back post to finish a flick on from Jermaine Jones.
The USMNT dominated the first half following the St. Vincent opener with 84% possession and 91% passing on a total of 453 attempts. The US attempted 11 shots putting 5 on target with St. Vincent's only shot attempt being the Anderson goal.
The US started the second half much as they ended the first, using set pieces to score goals against an overmatched team. The fourth goal for the US in the 51st came off another corner, this time Massachusetts native Geoff Cameron powering home a flick on from Bobby Wood. It was Cameron's third international goal, and second of 2015 including his goal against Mexico in the CONCACAF Cup. It appears he has established himself as the top centerback for the US going forward in qualification.
Gyasi Zardes, lined up at right midfield, notched the American's fifth goal. A good nutmeg through ball from Altidore put Zardes one on one with keeper McDowall and the LA Galaxy attacker finished five-hole into the side netting. It was a good recovery from a lackluster first half for Zardes, one of the few noticable players who struggled in this game.
One of the most important moments of the game happened in the 64th minute when Darlington Nagbe and Matt Miazga entered for their international debuts. The dual internationals are now cap tied to the United States since World Cup qualifying is an official FIFA competition, though judging by his reaction coming onto the field, Nagbe seems okay with that.
Awwww Darlington Nagbe is so happy pic.twitter.com/BNQ0tyl6IX— Ryan Rosenblatt (@RyanRosenblatt) November 14, 2015
Jozy Altidore completed the scoring with a tidy turn and finish inside the area following a feed from Jones in the 74th minute. Overall the US took 20 shots, putting nine on target, and completed over ninety percent of their passes and maintained an 83-17 possession edge. St. Vincent keeper McDowall made four saves in a valiant but losing effort while the relatively untested Brad Guzan made one save on two shots.
Set pieces and overwhelming talent carried the day for the US in a game where they were always destined to win by a large number. This game however should be remembered for what it is, a warm up for a tougher test on Tuesday against Trinidad and Tobago. Hopefully the US can carry this momentum and confidence on the road to Trinidad in what will be their toughest game of the semifinal round.
Jermaine Jones had an active 90 minute shift with two assists, both to Jozy Altidore. He was also hobbled for the final minutes of the game, switching to center back with Matt Besler going to midfield to see out the game.
The United States moves to the top of Group C in CONCACAF qualifying with the win. They'll face Trinidad and Tobago on November 17th in Port of Spain.