United States throttles Grenada in World Cup sendoff

Jun 11, 2022, 1:20 PM | Updated: 1:37 pm

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Jesús Ferreira had a night to remember against an overwhelmed opponent in the United States’ World Cup sendoff.

The 21-year-old forward tied the U.S. international record with four goals that included a hat trick in a 13-minute span Friday night during a 5-0 rout over Grenada. The hard-to-evaluate performance against the world’s 170th-ranked team came in a CONCACAF Nations League match played 164 days before the Americans’ opener in Qatar.

Just three warmup matches remain before U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter picks his World Cup roster.

“I think I’m in a good spot,” said Ferreira, a son of former Colombian national team midfielder David Ferreira, the 2010 Major League Soccer MVP. “I’m not going to focus on the goals because I know they will come. Just having a good game will do the job.”

Ferreira is competing for a roster spot and playing time with Ricardo Pepi, Haji Wright, Josh Sargent, Jordan Pefok and Daryl Dike.

After an array of misfires, Ferreira put the 15th-ranked U.S. ahead in the 43rd minute, then added goals in the 54th, 56th and 78th to give him seven in 12 international matches. His four goals matched Landon Donovan (2003), Joe-Max Moore (1993), Buff Donelli (1934) and Archie Stark (1925).

“There’s a certain validation that you get as a striker when you do hit the back of the net,” Berhalter said.

Paul Arriola added a goal in the 62nd as the Americans stretched their home unbeaten streak to 26 games since a September 2019 loss to Mexico, matching the team record set from 2013-15.

On a 96-degree evening, stars Christian Pulisic and Tyler Adams didn’t dress for the Americans, who faced a Spice Boys team winless since beating the U.S. Virgin Islands in March 2021. The Americans had 67% possession and outshot Grenada 25-3, including 10-0 in the first half.

Ferreira got the first goal when Arriola crossed and the ball deflected off Kayden Harrack. Ferreira cut to the center and beat goalkeeper Jason Belfon inside the far post with a left-foot shot from 8 yards. The U.S. had entered with just one goal from the run of play by a forward in 13 games.

Ferreira doubled the lead with a right-footed shot inside the far post when he sprinted behind the defense as Arriola fed him, then beat Belfon to the far post with a 14-yard right foot shot after Kellyn Acosta played a corner kick on the ground.

Second-half sub Brenden Aaronson pulled Belfon off his line for Ferreira’s fourth, leaving him a 6-yard tap with his left foot into an open goal.

Arriola, Ferreira’s Dallas teammate, scored from inside the 6-yard box from Luca de la Torre’s pass, his 10th international goal.

Cameron Carter-Vickers started in his international competitive debut and joined Aaron Long to become the 20th center back pairing in 53 games since Berhalter was hired in December 2018. The U.S. made eight changes from Sunday’s 0-0 exhibition draw against Uruguay.

Malik Tillman, a 20-year-old attacker who switched to the Americans from Germany last month, made his competitive debut at the start of the second half when he replaced Weston McKennie.

The unusual prep schedule was caused by FIFA’s 2010 decision to stage the tournament in Qatar, a vote the U.S. Justice Department said was impacted by bribes paid to executive committee members of soccer’s governing body.

In 2015, FIFA moved the tournament to winter from its traditional June/July slot, a shift into the middle of the European club season that will limit pre-tournament training to one week and eliminated the U.S. Soccer Federation’s usual sendoff series.

The Americans play at El Salvador on Tuesday in the Nations League and plan exhibitions in Europe on Sept. 23 and 27, likely against Asian opponents. The U.S. opens the World Cup against No. 18 Wales on Nov. 21, faces No. 5 England in a Black Friday matchup four days later and finishes the first round against No. 21 Iran on Nov. 29.

Notes: GK Ethan Horvath and Wright didn’t play, perhaps leaving them to start at El Salvador. … MF Gio Reyna, sidelined by a leg injury since April 8, was at the training camp though not on the roster. His father, former U.S. captain Claudio Reyna, is sporting director of Austin’s MLS team.

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