US beats Jamaica 4-1 in exhibition in Austria

By The Associated Press (AP) — Sergiño Dest scored his first international goal with a spectacular 25-yard shot, Sebastian Lletget added a pair of second-half goals and the United States beat Jamaica 4-1 in an exhibition Thursday night at Wiener Neustadt, Austria.

Brenden Aaronson scored for the U.S. in the 53rd minute. Jamal Lowe got Jamaica’s goal in the 70th minute on a counterattack, chipping goalkeeper Zack Steffen after Andrew Gray slipped a pass by right back Reggie Cannon.

Christian Pulisic returned to the U.S. lineup for the first time since October 2019 and played the first half. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, this was just the third match on a FIFA fixture date for the Americans since November 2019.

The 22nd-ranked Americans, preparing for a Nations League semifinal against Honduras in June and the start of World Cup qualifying in September, have seven wins and a draw in their last eight matches, and they’ve outscored opponents 23-3 in winning four straight friendlies.

They play Sunday at No. 45 Northern Ireland, which opened World Cup qualifying Thursday at Italy and figures to be cautious this weekend ahead of a qualifier against Bulgaria next Wednesday.

Dest received a pass from Yunus Musah on the left side just past midfield, took about a half-dozen touches as he advanced and cut around Adrian Mariappa and past Michael Hector, then beat diving goalkeeper goalkeeper Jeadine Whitewith inside the far post with a curling, right-footed shot from about 25 yards.

Dest, a 20-year-old making his sixth international appearance, started at left back. Dest is mostly a right back and occasional right wing at Barcelona, where he is in his first season and scored his first two goals last weekend at Real Sociedad.

Musah made his third appearance, his first since committing this month to the U.S. long-term. He had played for England’s youth national teams.

Pulisic was replaced at the start of the second by Aaronson, and Chris Richards took over at center back from Aaron Long. Aaronson played Reyna free in the 52nd minute, but Reyna took a poor first touch into the goalkeeper.

Aaronson doubled the lead in the 53rd minute with his second international goal, a 4-yard shot off a pass from Josh Sargent, who had dribbled around Ethan Pinnock. Lletget scored on a pair of one-timed shots, off passes from Nicholas Gioacchini in the 83rd minute and Luca de La Torre in the 90th.

American coach Gregg Berhalter made five changes from the last time the U.S. played on a FIFA date, starting Aaron Long and John Brooks in central defense, Kellyn Acosta in defensive midfield, Lletget in advanced midfield and Sargent at forward as part of a 4-3-3 formation.

Long and Brooks were paired on central defense for the third time after CONCACAF Nations League matches against Ecuador in March 2019 and against Canada in November 2019.

Gio Reyna joined Pulisic and Sargent in the attack. Sargent had not played for the U.S. since November 2019.

Jordan Siebatcheu replaced Sargent in the 82nd minute, the 64th debut since the October 2017 loss at Trinidad that prevented the Americans from reaching the 2018 World Cup. The total includes 41 debuts under Berhalter.

Jamaica started six players in their international debuts: defenders Amari Bell, Kiam Moore and Pinnock, midfielder Kasey Palmer and Lowe. Regulars on the 47th-ranked Reggae Boyz have been involved in a financial dispute with the Jamaica Football Federation dating to qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.

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