Back on the sidelines for the second time since returning as U.S. coach, Gregg Berhalter watched his team labor at first — as it had in Saturday’s 3-0 victory against Uzbekistan — before pulling away late in the game.
Clear-cut chances were hard to come by, but Falorin Balogun’s put-back in the first half and a second-half free kick from Brenden Aaronson helped make it two wins from two with Berhalter back in charge of the USMNT.
“It’s important that they both [Balogun and Pepi] scored. And as far as we see the competition, it’s twofold, right? It’s what they do for their clubs each and every week and what they do for us when they’re in camp,” Berhalter said.
“We needed to learn from this camp how to play and how to beat opponents of this caliber”, Berhalter said after USMNT two victories over Oman and Uzbekistan. “Next camp’s going to be a different proposition. How do you beat two world top 25 teams? Germany just beat France today. So it’s going to be different type of games and we’ll get everyone ready and prepared to step up and meet this competition.”
Tim Weah started the move toward Balogun’s goal with a cross that bounced all the way across the field. Weston McKennie picked up the ball, turned and beat Abdullah Fawaz, then crossed back to Weah on the far side of the penalty area. Weah laid off the ball to Sergiño Dest, who one-timed a shot that goalkeeper Ibrahim Al Mukhaini parried. Balogun knocked in the ball with his left foot from just outside the 6-yard box for his second international goal.
Aaronson, who had replaced Christian Pulisic at the start of the second half, earned the free kick when he was shoved by Ahmed Al Khamisi. Aaronson put his kick through the wall and past Al Mukhaini on a hop from 27 yards. It was Aaronson’s eighth goal in 34 international appearances.
Pepi scored his ninth international goal, his sixth in six games this year, from just inside the penalty area after settling a DeJuan Jones cross.
Benjamin Cremaschi, an 18-year Inter Miami midfielder, entered in the 71st minute and was followed by Kevin Paredes, a 20-year Wolfsburg defender. There have been 59 debuts under Berhalter.
“His [Cremaschi’s] performance today did nothing to change my opinion. I think he’s a highly, highly talented player, exciting potential, and I think he showed that today. So overall, pleased with him,” said the U.S. coach.
The game time temperature was about 58 degrees, up from 5 degrees for the February 2022 World Cup qualifier against Honduras held in St. Paul.
The U.S. made four changes from Saturday’s win over Uzbekistan. Ethan Horvath started in goal in place of Nottingham Forest teammate Matt Turner, Kristoffer Lund at left back for Antonee Robinson, Miles Robinson in central defense for Tim Ream and Malik Tillman in midfield for Luca de la Torre.
Horvath played his first international match since June 2022.
Information from ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura and The Associated Press was used in this story.