FOOTBALL: U.S. men do better, manage a 1-1 tie with Uruguay in St. Louis

American striker Jordan Morris

The U.S. men’s national team played a lot better in Tuesday night’s friendly against Uruguay at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Less porous on defense, better play close to the opponent’s goal on offense.

And they got a goal!

The 1-1 tie with Uruguay was certainly not an emphatic statement of quality, but it was better than the lackluster performance against Mexico on 6 September in New Jersey.

The U.S. started the match well on offense, with a brilliant Jordan Morris cross early in the game that almost resulted in a score from Josh Sargent. He had a good header as well, but Uruguyan keeper Fernando Muslera was equal to the challenge.

Over a scoreless first half, the U.S. had 59% of the possession and a 6-5 edge in shots, but still no scoring for the third straight game.

Uruguay was more energetic to start the second half and took the lead on a brilliant individual effort by Brian Rodriguez (who plays for LAFC in Major League Soccer). Moving in transition, Rodriguez dribbled down the left side, faked outside and then moved inside defender Aaron Long and launched a laser across the goal and into the right side of the net past keeper Brad Guzan. It was Rodriguez’s first goal for Uruguay.

But the Americans were not deterred and kept attacking … although without much effect. Finally, a play near the Uruguay endline saw sub Nick Lima launch a cross that was blocked and ricocheted off his body and flew over the head of Muslera to the far side of goal. And there was Morris to head it into an essentially empty net in the 79th minute for a 1-1 tie.

The U.S. mounted a couple of other attacks, but getting goal after 262 minutes was a relief and the crowd of 20,625 was delighted to leave with the game at 1-1.

Uruguay out-shot the U.S. by 15-11, but the American squad had 59% of the possession time. The U.S. hasn’t a game since 3 July, but perhaps this is a start. The next games for the U.S. men are in the new CONCACAF Nations League, starting on 11 October vs. Cuba and then 15 October against Canada.