ST. LOUIS (Sept. 9, 2023) – The U.S. Men’s National Team kicked off the September international window with a 3-0 victory against Uzbekistan in front of 15,569 at CITYPark as head coach Gregg Berhalter returned to lead the USA for the first time since he was re-hired this June. Forward Tim Weah got the USA on the board early, while forward Ricardo Pepi scored a second-half stoppage time insurance goal and forward Christian Pulisic added a penalty at the death to boost the USA to victory, its third against Asian competition under Berhalter.
The USMNT returns to action on Tuesday, Sept. 12 against Oman at Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minn. (TNT, Universo, Peacock, FDP Radio). The pair of September friendlies provides a rare opportunity for the USA to challenge itself against competition from the Asian Football Confederation, which will qualify eight teams to the expanded 2026 FIFA World Cup.
The USA got off to a fast start against the White Wolves, currently preparing for the AFC Asian Cup following a strong run of form in Central Asia. In the aftermath of a throw-in, a lovely touch and bit of ball-handling from Weston McKennie found his Juventus teammate Weah on the run into the box and he drilled a ball to the far back corner for the game’s opening goal in the fourth minute.
The USA continued to threaten in the early going, teeing up a number of dangerous chances for center forward Folarin Balogun. The newly-transferred Monaco striker nearly doubled the lead in the 16th minute as McKennie headed the ball across goal to Balogun and the forward narrowly struck it off the post.
As the half wore on, Uzbekistan continued to grow into the game and the Central Asian nation’s defense proved well-organized and a challenge to break down. The White Wolves found their best early chance in the 23rd, as Khojiakbar Alijonov, who was dangerous all day on the right wing, dribbled forward and took a hit from the top of the box that hit off the crossbar and went out of bounds.
Uzbekistan ended the half strong, forcing U.S. goalkeeper Matt Turner to step up and make a save in the first minute of first-half stoppage time. Captain Eldor Shomurodov pounced on a pass back to his counterpart captain Tim Ream and had a chance one-on-one with Turner, but the ‘keeper stood tall and came out to make the save, preserving the lead before the USA headed to the locker room.
The White Wolves carried their momentum and continued to threaten after the break, while a series of substitutes attempted to find an insurance goal for the U.S. Forwards Brenden Aaronson and Ricardo Pepi entered the match early in the half looking to build the American advantage.
The USA found a number of good looks midway through the second frame. A nifty dribble from defender Sergiño Dest through the Uzbek defense resulted in a solid opportunity, but Odiljon Hamrobekov got a foot on the attempt to deflect it out of bounds. Another good spell of possession came just three minutes later, as McKennie teed up Aaronson, whose shot was deflected and fell to Pepi. The Texan striker played to Pulisic, but his shot was swallowed by Uzbek ‘keeper Utkir Yusupov. Defender Kristoffer Lund was the USA’s final substitute of the day, becoming the 57th player to debut for the USMNT under Berhalter and the 857th overall in USMNT history.
The U.S. finally broke through on the attack again in second-half stoppage time, netting two late goals. In the first minute following regulation, Aaronson, a spark off the bench throughout the second half, played to Pepi at the top of the box, where the forward sent it to the left side of the net to double the U.S. lead.
Three minutes later, midfielder Malik Tillman was taken down in the box and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Pulisic, making his 61st appearance for the USMNT, stepped up to take the penalty and drilled it to the left side to cap off the scoring with his 26th international goal and sixth career penalty for the U.S.
GOAL SCORING RUNDOWN
USA – Tim Weah (Weston McKennie), 4th minute: Off a throw-in from defender Antonee Robinson on the left side, forward Christian Pulisic sent a cross into the box for McKennie, who controlled it with a deft touch before playing it out of a throng of four Uzbek defenders to Weah streaking into the box. With a running start from the top right corner, the winger drilled it to the far side of the net past Uzbek goalkeeper Utkir Yusupov to open the scoring. USA 1, UZB 0
USA – Ricardo Pepi (Brenden Aaronson), 90+1st minute: Two second-half substitutes combined to net a late insurance goal for the U.S. Defender Sergiño Dest dribbled up the right side and played to Aaronson just inside the penalty area. The Union Berlin winger took a touch and centered it to Pepi at the top of the box, where the PSV Eindhoven striker first-timed a shot to the left side past the diving goalkeeper for his eighth international goal. USA 2, UZB 0
USA – Christian Pulisic (Penalty Kick), 90+4th minute: In the final minute of second-half stoppage time, midfielder Malik Tillman was taken down in the box by an Uzbek defender to earn a penalty kick. Pulisic stepped up to the spot and sent a hard-hit shot to the left side to put an exclamation point on the afternoon. His 26th international goal is good for sixth-most in USMNT history. USA 3, UZB 0
- Tim Weah’s opening goal in the fourth minute was the fifth of his international career and also his first since tallying against Wales in the opening match of the FIFA World Cup on Nov. 21, 2022.
- Weston McKennie registered his fifth career assist on his Weah’s opening goal and his second of 2023.
- The Juventus pair of Weah and McKennie linking up for the opening goal marked the first time in 15 years that European club teammates combined for a goal with the USMNT. The last instance came when Carlos Bocanegra set up his Fulham teammate Clint Dempsey for the opening goal in the 8-0 win against Barbados in World Cup qualifying on June 15, 2008.
- Ricardo Pepi’s goal in the first minute of second half stoppage time was his fifth goal in as many appearances in 2023 and eighth of his international career.
- Brenden Aaronson provided his seventh career assist on Pepi’s goal and first since June 10, 2022 against Grenada in a Concacaf Nations League group stage match.
- Christian Pulisic’s tally from the penalty spot in second-half stoppage time was his 26th career goal and sixth converted penalty kick for the U.S. Pulisic also earned his 50th career start for the USMNT against Uzbekistan.
- Making his first appearance since the 0-0 draw against Saudi Arabia on Sept. 27, 2022 in Murcia, Spain, midfielder Malik Tillman earned the penalty leading to Pulisic’s goal.
- Making his team-leading ninth appearance of 2023, goalkeeper Matt Turner made three saves to earn both his 21st win and 21st clean sheet in his 33rd career cap. Turner has started 15 of 16 USMNT matches played during FIFA international windows dating back to the friendly against Japan on Sept. 23, 2022 in Düsseldorf, Germany.
- Turner will depart camp following the match in order to return to England in preparation for the birth of he and his wife Ashley’s second child. Inter Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender is scheduled to join the USMNT in St. Paul, Minn., on Sunday.
- Veteran defender Tim Ream captained the team in his hometown of St. Louis. It was Ream’s eighth time wearing the armband and came in his third USMNT appearance in the Gateway City.
- Today’s Starting XI had an average age of 25 years, 140 days. The lineup also averages 30 caps.
- Nine of the Starting XI are age 26 and younger: Antonee Robinson (26); Luca de la Torre and Weston McKennie (25); Christian Pulisic (24); Chris Richards and Tim Weah (23); Folarin Balogun and Sergiño Dest (22); Yunus Musah (20).
- Ream and Chris Richards partnered in central defense for the first time.
- Days after having his one-time change of association request approved by FIFA, defender Kristoffer Lund earned his USMNT debut when he replaced Antonee Robinson in the __th minute. Lund is the 857th player to earn a cap for the U.S. Men’s National Team and 57th player to debut in Gregg Berhalter’s 61 matches as head coach.
- Tanner Tessman earned his second career appearance when he replaced the injured Luca de la Torre in the 35th minute. Tessmann last appeared in the USA’s 7-0 win against Trinidad and Tobago on Jan. 31, 2021 in Orlando.
- In the first match of his second cycle leading the U.S. Men’s National Team, Gregg Berhalter’s record improved to 38-11-12 in 61 games. He also moves to 3-1-1 against opposition from the Asian Football Confederation.
- This was the first meeting between the USMNT and Uzbekistan at senior international level. The White Wolves are the USMNT’s 101st all-time international opponent and 11th different team from the Asian Football Confederation.
-U.S. MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM MATCH REPORT-
Match: United States Men’s National Team vs. Uzbekistan
Date: September 9, 2023
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: CITYPARK; St. Louis, Mo.
Kickoff: 5:37 p.m. ET (4:37 p.m. local)
Weather: 80 degrees; mostly cloudy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 2 3
UZB 0 0 0
USA – Tim Weah (Weston McKennie) 4th minute
USA – Ricardo Pepi (Brenden Aaronson) 90+1
USA – Christian Pulisic (Penalty Kick) 90+5
USA: 1-Matt Turner; 2-Sergiño Dest, 4-Chris Richards (3-Mark McKenzie, 64), 13-Tim Ream (Capt.), 5-Antonee Robinson (23-Kristoffer Lund, 81); 8-Weston McKennie (17-Malik Tillman, 81), 14-Luca de la Torre (16-Tanner Tessmann, 35), 6-Yunus Musah; 21-Tim Weah (11-Brenden Aaronson, 64), 20-Folarin Balogun (9-Ricardo Pepi, 46), 10-Christian Pulisic
Substitutes not used: 18-Ethan Horvath, 7-Cade Cowell, 12-Miles Robinson, 15-Benja Cremaschi, 19-Joe Scally, 22-Kevin Paredes
Head coach: Gregg Berhalter
UZB: 1-Utkir Yusupov; 23-Khusniddin Aliqulov, 15-Umarbek Eshmurodov, 5-Rustam Ashurmatov (6-Aziz Ganiev, 68); 3-Khojakbar Alijonov, 9-Odiljon Xamrobekov, 7-Otabek Shukurov (8-Jamshid Iskanderov, 82), 4-Farrux Sayfiev (19-Aziz Turgunboev, 68); 11-Oston Urunov (13-Sherzod Nasrullaev, 68), 10-Jaloliddin Masharipov (21-Abror Ismoilov, 86); 14-Eldor Shomurodov (Capt.) (17-Bobir Abdikholikov, 82)
Substitutes not used:12-Umidjon Ergashev, 16-Botirali Ergashev, 2-Shahzod Azmiddinov, 18-Abdulla Abdullaev, 20-Akmal Mozgovoy, 22-Dilshod Saitov
Head coach: Srečko Katanec
Stats Summary: USA / UZB
Shots: 13 / 15
Shots on Goal: 6 / 3
Saves: 3 / 3
Corner Kicks: 5 / 3
Fouls: 10 / 11
Offside: 2 / 2
USA – Chris Richards (caution) 49th minute
UZB – Khojakbar Alijonov (caution) 63
Referee: Nelson Salgado (HON)
Assistant Referee 1: Limanuel Sola (PUR)
Assistant Referee 2: Jairo Morales (PUR)
4th Official: Melvin Matamoros (HON)
Bud Light Man of the Match: Matt Turner