International Soccer: The United States defeats Uzbekistan 3-0 in the nation’s soccer capital  


The United States started head coach Gregg Berhalter’s second season with a 3-0 win against Uzbekistan in Saint Louis. 

After a Round of 16 exit in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, controversy surrounded head coach Berhalter after reports of a feud between himand the parents of USA star Gio Reyna surfaced. This drama included the parents’ unhappiness with Reyna’s lack of play time in the World Cup and revelations of past conduct by Berhalter. These issues resulted in the coach’s temporary leave from the U.S. team. After his departure, a hunt began for a head coach who would lead the Stars and Stripes to the 2026 World Cup. Since then, the United States defended their Nations League title in June and made it to the Semi-Finals of the Gold Cup with a young squad. During those international tournaments, it was revealed that Behalter would remain coach for another cycle. This international friendly was the first opportunity for Behalter to silence critics. 

While the 3-0 win seems like this was a triumphant return for Berhalter, the performance of the national team paints another picture. In the opening minutes of the game, it appeared that the U.S. was heading towards a dominant win against their opponent, Uzbekistan. In the 4th minute, after American Weston McKennie was swarmed by the Uzbekistan defense, he managed to pass the ball to Timothy Weah who scored the opening goal of the match. After the goal, the pressure the Stars and Stripes wanted to apply began falling apart. The rest of the first half was full of missed opportunities and a U.S. side that seemed to lose their spark. From Yunus Musah’s missed attempt, to Folarin Balogun’s weak shot that went straight to the goalkeeper, the plays coming from the Americans felt uninspired and left the audience with a feeling that clear opportunities to score were being wasted. In fact, if it wasn’t for U.S. goalkeeper Matt Turner’s saves, Uzbekistan would have evened the score. 

The second half of the match was a continuation of the first half. The U.S. defense was put to the test after a relentless Uzbekistan offense. Turner had to clear many shots from Uzbekistan players as they desperately sought an equalizer. It wasn’t until the final minute of regulation time that the U.S. extended their lead through a shot from Ricardo Pepi. After the U.S. attack scrambled to get a touch on the ball, Pepi got to it first and shot it in the middle of the penalty box. A few minutes after that, a penalty was called in favor of the Stars and Stripes. AC Milan’s Chrisitan Pulisic stepped up and converted it into a goal.  

This game was anticipated to be a blowout victory for the United States. Their roster is filled with players who play the best leagues in the world. The team also played in a city that has embraced soccer given the success of the recent Major League Soccer expansion team St. Louis FC. All of these factors should have led to a perfect storm for the United States to showcase their talent and to prove to fans that they can be competitive in the upcoming 2026 World Cup, which they are hosting.  

In the end, in a stadium with thousands of seats left empty, it was only fitting that the performance was lackluster. 

The United States will finish international play this month on Tuesday against Oman in a friendly in Minnesota. They will return in October to play against European giants Germany at Connecticut’s own Rentschler Field.  

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