With only eight players available for the United States on their Copa America roster, this friendly was a chance for some fringe players to make their way back into the USMNT fold or get their debuts.
Many of them did not disappoint, as the USA survived the heat and humidity in Bayamon, PR to defeat the Blue Hurricane 3-1 with goals from Tim Ream, Bobby Wood and debutante Paul Arriola.
The game started very slowly for both sides, before Alfredo Morales fired a shot on goal in the 20th minute that forced a save from Puerto Rico keeper Matt Sanchez, a two-year starter at Loyola (MD) University. Sanchez parried the first effort but right into the path of Tim Ream, who smashed the rebound into the back of the net for his first international goal before the keeper could recover.
Bobby Wood would double the USA's lead in the 34th, taking a nearly wide open feed from Arriola before carrying into the box and finishing over an onrushing Sanchez. Puerto Rico protested as they had a player down at midfield, but the center referee allowed play to continue as the US transitioned up field.
Right before the half however, Puerto Rico would end any chance of a blowout, as Luis Betancur hit a spectacular goal into the top corner that gave Brad Guzan no chance to save. Just after halftime, former NY Red Bulls player Manolo Sanchez had a wide open left footed volley that went just wide of Tim Howard's post and could have been a vital equalizer for Puerto Rico.
Paul Arriola would all but seal the game in the 56th minute when he tapped in a centering pass from Alejandro Bedoya into a wide open net. The rest of the second half would be a mad scramble, as Matt Sanchez would be credited with six saves on the night in an overall solid effort from the rising Caribbean team.
Fafa Picault and Paul Arriola made their full international debuts with Arriola becoming the first American to score on his debut since current New England Revolution striker Juan Agudelo in 2010. Picault became the second player with ties to the reformed NASL to play with the MNT joining Miguel Ibarra in that club. Eric Lichaj and Julian Green made appearances after long absences from the international team.
Overall, it was a day for the US to gain fitness ahead of Copa America and get some new and familiar faces some minutes. With two friendlies against Boliva and Ecuador in the next week we might learn more about possible starters when the bulk of the roster are released from MLS and Liga MX.