Ferreira and Mihailovic taking advantage of their USMNT opportunity


scheduled tribe. LOUIS — In international soccer parlance, Wednesday night’s Gold Cup match between the United States and St. Kitts and Nevis was technically a contest. Anyone who saw the Americans’ 6–0 victory can appreciate the irony of that designation.

Not that whatever happened was surprising. Ever since the teams were drafted together two months ago, the game has never had serious potential to deliver anything more than a glorified exhibition. Even when the United States’ first-choice players were holidaying all over the world, it was not realistic to allow for the possibility that Saint Kitts and Nevis – a Caribbean country of about 50,000 people – would be a major handicap. will work as ,

For the Sugar Boys, ranked 139th in the FIFA world rankings, qualifying for the group stage of the tournament was a significant achievement. They reached the qualification stage through their performances in the 2022-23 CONCACAF Nations League C – made up of the 13 lowest-ranked teams in the confederation – and advanced after beating both Curaçao and French Guiana on penalties earlier this month. And while they have made great strides in recent years, including a respectable showing in 2022 World Cup qualification when they won their first round group, both sides understand the reality of the gap in talent.

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Under different circumstances, the United States could have been satisfied to secure the three points and call it out, but a goal difference in the game was an incentive after they drew with Jamaica on Saturday. That factor, combined with a US roster made up of less established players, made for an even longer night time for St. Kitts and Nevis to improve their status with the national team.

The Group A winner will play the second-place finisher from Group D – Canada, Cuba, Guatemala, Guadeloupe – on July 9 in Cincinnati, while the second-place finisher will play the Group D winner. Perhaps more importantly, the second-place finisher would be on the same side of the bracket with Mexico in the knockout rounds.

Midfielder Djordje Mihailovic said, “With the result against Jamaica, we knew we had to score some goals because it is an important tiebreaker if we get things done in the next match.” “But it’s something we talked about before, when someone tries to move as much as possible.”

Prior to the USA game, Jamaica scored three first-half goals against Trinidad and Tobago to win 4–1, putting the USA ahead by a three-goal margin in their final group match against Trinidad. Tobago in Charlotte on Sunday. The Americans have outscored T&T 13-0 in their last two meetings since the infamous 2-1 defeat that knocked them out of World Cup qualifying in 2017.

There’s no point in using Wednesday’s performance as a possible indicator of the future of this American team. However, there were several promising performances to look forward to, with perhaps the most meaningful performance coming from Mihailovic. After scoring in his debut in 2019 – which doubled in coach Greg Berhalter’s first game as head coach – and making five appearances that year, Mihailovic has the following years to lead the tournament in assists. There was only one cap (El Salvador in December 2020). , Against Saint Kitts and Nevis, he was the United States’ most impressive player, scoring twice and assisting twice in a strong 90-minute performance.

Interim US coach BJ Callaghan said, “I thought he showed his quality.” “He’s a player who’s really comfortable between the lines and as soon as he gets close to the penalty box, he becomes a real threat, whether it’s running behind the line, getting into the penalty box. So, I thought the performance we saw from Jordje was what we expect from him.”

Both his assists set up Jesus Ferreira, whose hat-trick catapulted him into historic USMNT company. Following his four-goal game against Granada in the Nations League last year, Ferreira is the fifth player on the team with multiple career hat-tricks, joining Landon Donovan (3), Jozy Altidore (2), Peter Miller (2) and Clint. Dempsey (2). He also became the fastest ever to reach double digit goals (20 games).

“It means a lot,” Ferreira said. “Of course, growing up you always want to be among the big names and be among the elite lists and be among the lists that hardly anyone touches. And for me to do that here in the US shirt while scoring goals means a lot.

“It is a national team that gave me the opportunity to represent a country on the biggest stage and a country that gave me the pleasure of playing at the highest level. So, I am just excited and happy that I can give back to the fans.” Excited for and for what’s to come.”

As impressive as the scoreline showed the victory, Callaghan and several players later admitted that it easily could have been – and perhaps should have been – even more one-sided.

Right-back Brian Reynolds, who had his first goal for the US, said, “I think it was important that we scored one goal early and many goals early, but with our quality, I think we could have scored more than 10 goals.” Could have scored.” Scored 2-0 from outside the box. “It’s good that we won, but we always want to see things we can improve on.”

One obvious area of ​​improvement is on the wings. Cade Cowell and Alex Zendejas were both able to get into some dangerous areas, but their play in the final third — finishing, passing, touching — was mostly substandard. Again, there is little to be learned in the long term, but playing poorly in this type of game can be more instructive than playing well.

Callaghan said, “With Alex, I was very proud of how hard he worked over the 90 minutes and yes, of course he will be disappointed that he wasn’t able to execute his chances.” “But still, we continue to send the message that we will try to get better every time. So that is one aspect that we will work on with Alex and try to get better, but he did a great job with all the pressure and some Defensively with short passing combinations that you saw in the middle of the field.

“So, he’s still made an impact on our team, even though he might be disappointed.”