EAST HARTFORD, Conn.– The young players with the United States men’s national team held up well against Peru, but one of the program’s veterans cost the Americans a victory Tuesday night.
The USMNT tied Peru 1-1 at Pratt and Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field due to a defensive lapse by DeAndre Yedlin that allowed Peru’s Edison Flores to slide into the penalty area and net an 86th-minute equalizer.
Eighteen-year-old U.S. forward Josh Sargent bagged the only goal for the USMNT in the 49th minute, and until Yedlin’s mistake, it appeared the home side would walk away with its second victory in three matches.
After a first half in which neither side produced any significant chances, the USMNT came out strong in the second half, producing a string of advances into the final third that resulted in the free kick that created Sargent’s goal.
“As expected, we faced a very good team tonight in Peru,” USMNT interim manager Dave Sarachan said. “They demonstrated pretty much what I expected: quality on the ball, quickness, speed, experience. So we were prepared for that but when the game kicks off and now decisions have to be made, it’s a whole new ball game.”
“I thought the first half, we did a lot of defending,” Sarachan said. “I thought our shape was pretty good. We didn’t really allow them too many great chances in the first half. On the flip side we didn’t create a lot, we had a few moments.”
Debutantes Jonathan Amon and Reggie Cannon combined on the right wing in one of Cannon’s first moves up the field to set up a free kick on the right flank. Acosta played a perfect ball on the ground to Sargent, who peeled back from a few defenders into open space on the right side of the penalty area.
Sargent’s first touch on the ball was a shot sent into the left side of the net for the Werder Bremen player’s second-career international goal. The first was in May against Bolivia at Talen Energy Stadium.
“I thought when we made a little shift tactically in the second half, we almost shifted in a way where it looked like a 4-4-2 it sort of confused them slightly, obviously we get the goal,” Sarachan said. “It’s something we worked on a little bit, and it paid off. Josh Sargent got rewarded.”
Peru looked more dangerous as the second half went on, but only one shot on target tested U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan before Flores’ equalizer.
The most threatening attempt from the Peruvians before the goal came from Portland Timbers midfielder Andy Polo, who struck the top-left part of the crossbar with a blistering attempt from distance in the 75th minute.
Seattle Sounders forward Raul Ruidiaz, who was silent the majority of the contest, latched onto the rebound, but his close-range header skied over the net.
After trusting his young players for most of the game — including Amon, Cannon and Aaron Long of the New York Red Bulls, who all made their debut for the U.S. — interim manager Dave Sarachan brought on veterans Michael Bradley and Yedlin to close out the game.
However, the decision came back to haunt him. Yedlin made an inexcusable mistake, standing flat-footed while marking in the box and allowing Flores to slip in for the strike.
Tuesday’s draw dropped the USMNT’s 2018 record to 3-3-3 ahead of a pair of November friendlies in Europe against England and Italy.