The United States Men’s National Team recorded a resounding 3-0 friendly win over Morocco on Wednesday night as they step up their preparations for the 2022 World Cup.
Goals from Brenden Aaronson, Tim Weah, and Haji Wright secured the victory for the Stars and Stripes in front of 19,512 fans at FC Cincinnati’s TQL Stadium.
Gregg Berhalter named a strong starting XI for the visit of Morocco – one of five African teams qualified for Qatar 2022 – with the likes of Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams, and new Leeds United man Aaronson all taking to the field.
It didn’t take long for the US to assert their dominance with Aaronson opening the scoring on 26 minutes following some excellent work from Pulisic behind the Moroccan defense. Lille forward Weah doubled the USMNT’s lead just six minutes later, unleashing a powerful shot from outside the area to beat Sevilla goalkeeper Yassine Bounou.
And after riding some pressure either side of half-time, the United States finished the job, with senior debutant Haji Wright scoring from a penalty won by Pulisic.
Morocco, whose starting line-up included the likes of Achraf Hakimi, Roman Saiss, and Adel Taarabt, had their moments and outshot their hosts 22-2, forcing eight saves from future Arsenal goalkeeper Matt Turner.
But in the end, they lacked the attacking quality to make a breakthrough, while the United States were far too clinical.
Brenden Aaronson is riding the crest of a wave right now.
The former Philadelphia Union man will be full of confidence after sealing a big-money move from RB Salzburg to Leeds United, reuniting with former boss and fellow American Jesse Marsch in the process.
Aaronson celebrated in the perfect manner on Wednesday, making a late run into the box and firing home to open the scoring for the US after Pulisic had bamboozled the Morocco defense.
But his goal aside, Aaronson enjoyed a lively night in Ohio. The 21-year-old created three chances against Morocco and was unlucky not to grab an assist of his own, while he was successful with all three of his dribbles, and posted a 90% pass completion rate.
As always, Aaronson was active in winning the ball back for the USMNT, too, making four tackles and four recoveries.
This was the sort of high-intensity, two-way performance that earned him a move to Leeds in the first place. Whites supporters will now be dreaming of him producing the goods at Elland Road.
Though friendly wins should always be taken with a pinch of salt, Berhalter believes he was able to learn a lot from the USMNT’s 3-0 win over Morocco – both good and bad.
“I felt like the group went out and showed exactly how good we can be but also at times vulnerable,” Berhalter said. “For us, I think we’re very happy with the result. We still know that we need to keep improving, and that’s why this game was so good for us.”
The moment of the match was undoubtedly Pulisic’s assist for the opening goal, expertly bringing down a long Walker Zimmerman pass and turning the Moroccan defense inside out before setting Aaronson up to score.
Berhalter believes contributions like this show exactly why Pulisic is ‘at the next level.
“The ability of players to control the ball at high speed and change direction at high speed with the ball is what really separates players at the next level, and Christian definitely has that,” he said.
Up next for the USMNT is another friendly match, this time against Uruguay in Kansas City on Sunday.