AUSTIN (KXAN) — It was only a matter of when the United States would start scoring in bunches against Grenada on Friday at Q2 Stadium.
After controlling the match the entire first half with just one goal to show for it, the US put four more in the net to run away with a 5-0 victory to open CONCACAF Nations League play.
Jesus Ferreira, who plays for FC Dallas in Major League Soccer, scored the lone first-half goal, and then tacked on three more for good measure in a brilliant performance. He’s now tied for the USMNT all-time lead in goals scored in a match with the legendary Landon Donovan, Buff Donelli and Joe-Max Moore. Donavan scored four goals against Cuba in 2003 during a Gold Cup match in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
“Lately, I’ve been trying to work on my mind and not performing to the level I’m supposed to,” he said. “I have a group of people around me that support me and let me know what I bring to the team.”
Ferreira said he shifted his focus to the finer aspects of the game, good touches and when and where to make runs, and it paid off. His second goal was a prime example of that, and it helped that his FC Dallas teammate Paul Arriola was the guy to feed him. Ferreria’s second tally came from a terrific Arriola through ball down the middle of the 18-yard box in the 53rd minute. Scoring with his left in the first half, Ferreira hit it with the right foot for No. 2, and the rout was on from there.
“It’s a special connection,” Ferreira said playing with his teammate on the national team. “I know every movement he can do, and he knows all of mine. It makes it easier to connect and score goals.
It clearly didn’t matter that US star midfielder Christian Pulisic didn’t make the trip as the US dominated every facet of the match. The No. 15-ranked team in the world smothered just about every attacking move from Grenada and didn’t allow a shot on goal, and also held a 67%-33% possession advantage. The US racked up 25 shots and Grenada took just three.
Grenada head coach Michael Findlay said that simply qualifying for the tournament’s top tier was an accomplishment for the tiny island nation just north of Venezuela, but he’s pushing the players to think bigger.
“We’re obviously disappointed with the result, but I think we were admirable in our performance in the first half,” he said. “We had trouble handling the pace of the game in the second half.”
Findlay, a former Canadian national team assistant and interim head coach, said he’s not using it as an excuse, but the reality is that teams like the US have a vast amount of resources compared to teams like Grenada. He said it’s his job to figure out where he can try to “close the gaps.”
“There’s about $200 million worth of players on the other side of the pitch from us,” he said. “It’s one of the realities where we try to shrink that divide was spirit, and I think we displayed that tonight. At times, we attempted to play and apply the things we’ve been working on.”
Grenada was playing its third Nations League match this week, and the US began its title defense with its first match Friday. The US will travel to El Salvador, the other team in the group, and play Tuesday.
Grenada earned a 2-2 draw June 7 with El Salvador after a 3-1 loss to them June 4.
The match was the last for the US on home soil before the FIFA World Cup begins in Qatar in November. While he’s trying to figure out who will wear the Stars and Stripes in the small but affluent Middle Eastern nation, he was impressed with the FC Dallas connection between Ferreria and Arriola.
“He’s shows up in big games with his intensity,” Berhalter said about Arriola. Arriola had a goal and an assist in the match.
The US moved its home unbeaten streak to 26 matches, and that ties the team record set from 2013-2015. The US won the Nations League tournament last year.
After taking on El Salvador on Tuesday, they’re off until the World Cup when they open group play November 21 against Wales.