The U.S. men's national team's first competitive match since November 2019 went down to the wire Thursday night, but the Americans came out on top.
Jordan Siebatcheu came off the bench and delivered a diving header in the 89th minute to give the U.S. a 1-0 win over Honduras in the semifinals of the Concacaf Nations League. The win sends the U.S. to Sunday's final, which will be against rival Mexico. Siebatcheu's goal came at a perfect time, too—with no extra time in the competition until the final, the match would have gone straight to penalty kicks had it ended in a draw, just like after Mexico's 0-0 tie vs. Costa Rica, where El Tri ultimately prevailed from the spot.
The U.S. entered on the heels of a 2-1 defeat to Switzerland on Sunday, which snapped a nine-game unbeaten run. Christian Pulisic, who won the Champions League with Chelsea a day earlier, didn't play in that game, though, and both he and Man City backup goalkeeper Zack Steffen started vs. Honduras. They represented two of three changes U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter made to his lineup from Sunday's match, with left back Antonee Robinson taking the place of Reggie Cannon—and Sergiño Dest moving to his more preferred right side as a result.
The opening kick officially cap-tied three U.S. players, with Robinson (England), Gio Reyna (England, Argentina, Portugal) and Mark McKenzie (Jamaica) all technically still having the door open elsewhere prior to the night.
The USA's first foray forward came in the third minute, when Pulisic dummied a ball forward from John Brooks, allowing Sebastian Lletget to surge forward and pick out Josh Sargent, but the forward wasn't able to create much with the 1-v-1 opportunity down the left-hand side.
The first U.S. shot came off the left foot of Reyna, who had a shooting lane from 16 yards out on the right but hooked it wide of the post in the seventh minute.
Reyna had another golden chance in the 10th minute after carving his way through a few Honduran defenders, pulling his close-range shot just wide of the left post.
Moments later, the U.S. had another great chance, with Weston McKennie left unmarked on a corner kick, only for the Juventus midfielder to be unable to redirect Lletget's kick on frame.
Honduras came inches from scoring the opener in the 27th minute, when Steffen came racing off his line to try and cut off a free kick to the far post, only for Alberth Elis to beat him to the aerial challenge and head toward the vacated net. Sargent cleared the ball off the line with a tremendous defensive header under pressure, though, saving Steffen and the U.S.
On the other end, Sargent had a close-range header saved by Luis Lopez, who then denied Pulisic of another close-range chance by stuffing his shot with his legs at the half-hour mark.
Steffen came up with a massive save for the U.S. in the 51st minute. Anthony Lozano wound up onside and unmarked, with acres of space and just the U.S. goalkeeper in front of him, but Steffen closed down quickly and made the necessary block to keep the U.S. even at 0-0.
Berhalter finally went to his bench in the 78th minute, bringing Cannon, Brenden Aaronson and Siebatcheu on in a triple substitution, with Reyna, Robinson and Sargent coming off. With no extra time in the competition until the final, penalties were beckoning, with the U.S. coach hoping the changes would provide a decisive spark.
The latter two subs nearly did combine for a chance, with Brooks picking out Aaronson down the right-hand side and the former Philadelphia Union standout attempting to head across goal for Siebatcheu. He couldn't angle his header back enough, though, with Lopez making the easy gather to end the threat.
Siebatcheu did wind up making the decisive touch in the end. The U.S. took the lead on his diving header, which started on another sequence that involved a Brooks long pass. This one picked out McKennie on the right, and he headed back across goal for the forward, who connected with his header to give the U.S. the win.
More Soccer Coverage: