Insiders Man of the Match Chris Mueller Bags Brace in Five-Minute Span to Become Sixth USMNT Player with Two Goals in Debut
Paul Arriola Tallies in First Start Back from ACL Injury Suffered in February
Ayo Akinola Also Scores in Debut
FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Dec. 9, 2020)—The U.S. Men’s National Team finished its 2020 schedule with an emphatic exclamation point as it topped Concacaf foe El Salvador 6-0 at Inter Miami CF Stadium.
An explosion of five goals in 10 minutes broke the game open for the USA midway through the first half and the USMNT dominated down the stretch to add another in the second and record a shutout.
Debutant forward Chris Mueller became just the sixth player to bag a brace in his first USMNT cap, netting two goals in five minutes, while fellow debutant forward Ayo Akinola added a goal of his own. Midfielder Brenden Aaronson also opened his international account with the final goal in the second half.
Following his recovery from a torn ACL suffered in February, forward Paul Arriola opened the scoring in his first start since the injury, while midfielder Sebastian Lletget tallied a goal in his second-straight match for the USA.
While the COVID-19 pandemic turned the international soccer calendar on its head in 2020, the USMNT finished undefeated in its four matches this year, going 3-0-1 and outscoring opponents 13-2.
Half of head coach Gregg Berhalter’s starting XI made its first or second appearance with the USA. In addition to Akinola and Mueller, defender Julian Araujo picked up his first cap as the starting right back. With Araujo providing the assist on Mueller’s second goal, every starting debutant got their name on the scoresheet.
After some promising early action, the USMNT found its breakthrough in the 17th minute off some nifty play by Mueller. On the run up the left wing, the Orlando City SC forward leapt over a defender attempting a tackle and slid a pass between two more onrushing Salvadorans to find Arriola near the penalty spot. Arriola rocketed a shot past El Salvador goalkeeper Henry Hernandez for his sixth international goal in the 17th minute.
Arriola’s goal sparked the USMNT’s hunger for more goals and catalyzed a number of more attacking opportunities, and the floodgates opened quickly thereafter. When a cross from Lletget deflected off El Salvador, Jackson Yueill put it quickly back in the box where Mueller fired it home in the 20th minute for his first of the evening.
Lletget found a goal of his own three minutes later on an impressive individual run. Driving downfield after receiving a well-placed pass from midfielder Brenden Aaronson, Lletget drove past a number of Salvadoran defenders and chipped Hernandez from the top of the box.
Mueller bagged his brace in just five minutes of play off of a beautiful ball sent in by defender Julian Araujo in the 25th minute. The young right back took a moment to settle the ball just beyond the corner of the box before delivering a lovely looping pass to the far post, where Mueller met it with a diving header.
Another breakaway capped the USMNT’s first-half scoring frenzy. As three U.S. attackers charged down the field, Mueller unselfishly laid the ball off for an onrushing Akinola, who arrived with a first-time sliding shot tucked into the near post.
The offensive onslaught continued in the second half when Arriola found Aaronson with plenty of space at the top of the box in the 50th minute and he sent a hard-hit shot to the back of the net.
In the second half, two more players made their international debuts in outside backs Marco Farfan and Kyle Duncan. They formed part of a U.S. defense that also held strong down the stretch as the USA outshot Los Cuzcatlecos 20-3.
On a relatively quiet day, goalkeeper Bill Hamid was called upon to make a pair of saves midway through the second half and recorded his third solo shutout in his eighth international appearance with the help of some rock-solid play from his back line.
The USMNT will return to action in January 2021, kicking off a year that will feature the Concacaf Nations League Finals, the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup and the start of qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
GOAL SCORING RUNDOWNUSA – Paul Arriola (Chris Mueller), 17th minute
After a number of promising early chances for the U.S. attack, the breakthrough came from Paul Arriola following an impressive run by Chris Mueller, making his first appearance for the USA at any level. Cutting towards goal from the left wing, the forward leapt over a slide-tackle and maintained possession before dishing between two more defenders to Arriola near the penalty spot. In his first start since recovering from a torn ACL, Arriola fired a rocket of a shot through the defense to the top right corner of the net. USA 1, SLV 0
USA – Chris Mueller (Jackson Yueill), 20th minute
After setting up the first, Mueller found a goal of his own just three minutes later. Sebastian Lletget sent in a cross from the left side that deflected off the defense beyond the 18-yard-line. Jackson Yueill collected the loose ball and sent it to Muller at the top of the box, who made a move and rifled a shot to the far post. USA 2, SLV 0
USA – Sebastian Lletget (Brenden Aaronson), 23rd minute
From midfield, Brenden Aaronson found Lletget in stride as he sprinted past three El Salvador defenders. As another came in to make a tackle, Lletget spotted El Salvador goalkeeper Henry Hernandez off his line and chipped a shot over his outstretched reach for a goal in his second consecutive USMNT appearance. USA 3, SLV 0
USA – Chris Mueller (Julian Araujo), 25th minute
The second goal of Mueller’s debut brace came thanks to excellent service from fellow first capper Julian Araujo. As the USMNT worked the ball around the El Salvador half, Araujo had space beyond the top right corner of the box to settle the ball and tee-up a booming cross to the far post. Mueller was well-positioned to meet it and dove to head it past Hernandez. USA 4, SLV 0
USA – Ayo Akinola (Chris Mueller), 27th minute
Sprung by a nice pass from Paul Arriola, the U.S. attack had El Salvador on its heels as three attackers bared down on goal. Aaronson found Mueller across the box on the run towards the net and when Hernandez came out to meet him, the Orlando City SC winger unselfishly laid the ball off for a charging Ayo Akinola. The striker beat his mark with a sliding finish that he tucked just inside the near post. USA 5, SLV 0
USA – Brenden Aaronson (Paul Arriola), 50th minute
The USMNT put another on the board just after the break, as Brenden Aaronson netted his first international goal. Driving towards the end line, Arriola sent a ball to the top of the box, where the Philadelphia Union midfielder had plenty of space to gather the ball and hammered a shot on goal, which deflected off the El Salvador defense and into the back of the net. USA 6, SLV 0
With the result, the USMNT has scored six goals in back-to-back matches for the first time since 2013 -- the 6-0 friendly win vs. Guatemala on July 5, 2013 and 6-1 win against Belize on July 9, 2013 in the opening match of the Concacaf Gold Cup.
Forward Chris Mueller became the sixth player to score two goals in his USMNT debut. He follows teammate Sebastian Soto who did so in last month’s 6-2 win vs. Panama, Peter Millar (two goals vs. Israel on Sept. 15, 1968), Otto Decker (two goals vs. England on June 8, 1953), Aldo Donelli (four goals vs. Mexico on May 24, 1934) and Andy Auld (two goals vs. Canada on Nov. 6, 1926).
With his 27th minute striker, forward Ayo Akinola became the 57th USMNT player to score in his international debut.
Scoring the game’s opening goal, tonight’s match marked Paul Arriola’s first start for club or country since suffering a torn right ACL in a preseason match with D.C. United on Feb. 15. Arriola had started in the USA’s 1-0 win against Costa Rica on Feb. 1, 2020, then returned to action in United’s MLS regular season finale on Nov. 8, playing 21 minutes as a substitute.
Set to join Red Bull Salzburg in January, 20-year-old Brenden Aaronson registered his first international goal and assist in tonight’s match.
Defender Julian Araujo served a picture-perfect cross for Chris Mueller’s 25th minute header to register his first assist in his USMNT debut.
Defensive midfielder Jackson Yueill also registered his first assist in his eighth international appearance.
Today’s Starting XI had an average age of exactly 24 years and nine caps.
Five players made their USMNT debuts: forwards Akinola and Mueller and defenders Julian Araujo, Kyle Duncan and Marco Farfan. The five first-timers take the total number of debuts to 34 players in 22 matches under Gregg Berhalter – the most of any modern era USMNT coach at this point in their tenure.
With the start, Araujo became the 11th member of the USA squad at the 2020 FIFA U-20 World Cup to earn a cap with the USMNT.
Sebastian Lletget scored in his second-straight appearance and also added an assist as he became the only player to appear in all four USMNT matches in 2020.
Aaron Long captained the USMNT for the fourth time tonight. The USMNT is 4-0-0 with Long as captain.
Earning his eighth cap tonight, Bill Hamid recorded his third career shutout in his first match since a 2-1 defeat to Ireland on June 2, 2018 in Dublin.
Ten of 17 players who took the field tonight are eligible for next summer’s 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo: Brenden Aaronson, Ayo Akinola, Julian Araujo, Mark McKenzie, Sam Vines and Jackson Yueill.
Though part of the training camp roster, because they represented other countries in official youth competition, forward Efrain Alvarez (Mexico) and midfielder Andrés Perea (Colombia) were ineligible to represent the United States.
The USMNT is in the midst of a six-game unbeaten run (5-0-1), a stretch that dates back to the USA’s 4-1 defeat of Canada on Nov. 15, 2019, in Orlando. The current streak is the longest under Berhalter.
The USMNT is now 18-1-5 all-time against El Salvador and 15-0-2 against Los Cuzcatlecos on U.S. soil.
- U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report -
Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. El Salvador
Date: December 9, 2020
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Inter Miami CF Stadium; Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Attendance: 2,500 (limited attendance)
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Weather: 58 degrees; Clear
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 5 1 6
SLV 0 0 0
USA – Paul Arriola 17th minute
USA – Chris Mueller (Jackson Yueill) 20
USA – Sebastian Lletget (Brendan Aaronson) 23
USA – Chris Mueller (Julian Araujo) 25
USA – Ayo Akinola (Chris Mueller) 27
USA – Brendan Aaronson (Sebastian Lletget) 50
USA: 1-Bill Hamid; 2-Julian Araujo (16-Kyle Duncan, 74), 4-Mark McKenzie, 3-Aaron Long (capt.) (5-Walker Zimmerman, 83), 13-Sam Vines (15-Marco Farfan, 46); 6-Jackson Yueill, 8-Brenden Aaronson, 17-Sebastian Lletget (10-Kellyn Acosta, 68); 7-Paul Arriola (19-Sebastian Soto, 58), 9-Ayo Akinola (14-Djordje Mihailovic, 74), 11-Chris Mueller
Substitutes: 12-JT Marcinkowski, 21-CJ Dos Santos, 18-Mauricio Pineda, 20-Cole Bassett
Head coach: Gregg Berhalter
SLV: 1-Henry Hernandez (capt.), 3-Roberto Dominguez, 4-Ican Mancia, 6-Narciso Orellana, 7-Darwin Ceren, 8-Denis Pineda (10-Duston Corea, 70), 9-David Diaz (5-Alexander Mendoza, 38), 11-Joaquin Rivas (14-Andres Flores, 52), 12-Marvin Monterrosa (20-Pablo Punyed, 52), 15-Jonathan Jimenez (13-Alexander Larin, 57), 17-Ruben Marroquin (21-Bryan Tamacas, 38)
Substitutes: 16-Rodrigo Rivera
Head coach: Carlos de los Cabos
Stats Summary: USA / SLV
Shots on Goal: 9/3
Corner Kicks: 6/0
SLV – Roberto Dominguez (caution) 61st minute
Referee: Jose Raul Torres Rivera (PUR)
Assistant Referee 1: Wasnah Barnarde (ATG)
Assistant Referee 2: Limanuel Sola Morales (PUR)
4th Official: William Rene Anderson Abrams (PUR)
U.S. Soccer Insiders Man of the Match: Chris Mueller