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USMNT vs El Salvador final score: ‘Jedi’ wills Yanks to 1-0 win

Joe Prince-Wright, Andy Edwards and Nick Mendola look ahead to the United States' next World Cup qualifying window, with big clashes against Canada and El Salvador on tap at the end of January.

Antonee Robinson scored the game’s lone goal in a Man of the Match performance at left back as the United States men’s national team continued its World Cup qualifying pace with a 1-0 win over El Salvador on Thursday in Columbus, Ohio.

Gregg Berhalter’s Yanks weren’t at their very best but were active on a frigid night with a substandard pitch (not really Columbus’ fault but the fault of playing a January game on grass in Columbus).

[ MORE: Pulisic opens up on Chelsea role, mental struggles ]

The U.S. was led by Robinson and teenage midfielder Yunus Musah as the back line allowed zero shots to reach goalkeeper Matt Turner (who appears set to move to Arsenal in the coming days).

The Yanks could finish this matchday with as high as a Ifive-point lead on the fourth-place playoff spot and as much as a 10-point advantage on fifth.

Up next is a trip to Hamilton, Ontario, for a Sunday visit to Canada. The Canadians lead 1-0 in Honduras as of post time and will hold a one-point table lead on the USMNT should the lead hold.

USMNT vs El Salvador final score, stats

USMNT 1-0 El Salvador

Scorers: A. Robinson 52'

Shot attempts: USMNT 17, El Salvador 6

Shots on goal: USMNT 5, El Salvador 0

Possession: USMNT 63, El Salvador 37


COLUMBUS, OHIO - JANUARY 27: Yunus Musah #6 of the United States controls the ball against Alex Roldan #15 of El Salvador during the World Cup qualifying game at Field on January 27, 2022 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Three things we learned from USMNT vs El Salvador

1. Ferreira’s nerves delay cruise launch as first-half woes continue: Jesus Ferreira is a promising talent but a surprise starter, and his finishing was... less than ideal in the first 20 minutes. Ferreira was cued up by Antonee Robinson will a nice square entry in the 16th minute and flashed it over the goal, then missing Tim Weah’s headed flick of a Sergino Dest-led rush and cross in the 20th. For a team that very much wanted to be rotating for Canada by the 60th minute at the latest, halftime might’ve been on the menu if he finished both of those.

The Yanks out-attempted El Salvador 8-0 in the first half and didn’t allow a shot on target over the course of 90 minutes but because of the missing finish had to play to the final whistle knowing that one mistake could doom them to a draw.

2. Gregg Berhalter most important contribution to the program might be convincing Yunus Musah to commit to the USMNT: That’s it. That’s the thing. Musah is so smooth on the ball at 19 and he’s only looking better as he begins to play more central and attacking for Valencia after spending a lot of his time in La Liga at right wing or right mid.

3. Christian Pulisic has a rare blah -- maybe very blah -- day: The man who has a chance to rival Clint Dempsey and Claudio Reyna for the honor of best American player in men’s program history showed us all that even the best players in the world can be poor on a given day. Pulisic lost all 10 of his first-half duels according to SofaScore and was limited to 42 touches. He finished the day with three key passes, showing how special talents just cannot be completely shut out of the attack, but this was a bonafide rough one for the Chelsea man.\

Man of the Match: Antonee Robinson

No, his crosses weren’t always on point but the Fulham man did his best Andy Robertson on Thursday night in Columbus right down to his clinical, smashed finish to finally put the Yanks on the board. You can see why Everton liked what they had in him, why Bolton and Wigan both liked him on loan, and why AC Milan believed he could fit in their mix before a heart issue trampled on his transfer. And despite his status in (generally) solid defensive position, Robinson is seemingly always available for an overlapping run. The USMNT program has been waiting for its next DaMarcus Beasley for some time and Robinson right now looks like a man who could have the next two World Cups right in front of him.

Clearly superior early but nothing to show for it

Dest and Tyler Adams both took poor and aggressive positions that allowed El Salvador a break in the 29th minute that left Alex Roldan, brother of USMNT midfielder Cristian, alone just inside the 18. Luckily, Roldan’s back post effort missed its mark as a flying Matt Turner held his breath.

Aside from the two Jesus Ferreira chances discusses in “Thing No. 1" above, the best chance of the first half came on a Christian Pulisic led rush through the middle of the pitch. The Chelsea man eventually got the ball to Antonee Robinson for a cross. Timothy Weah settled it but had trouble addressing it with his first or second touch and his third was a shot that was blocked over the goal.

Return of the Jedi

Antonee Robinson’s big game deservedly found the Fulham man on scene for a quality finish and the game’s first goal.

The 24-year-old -- again, always available -- was in the right spot to take advantage of terrible El Salvador defending, confident dribbling from Timothy Weah, and a strong, headed pass from Jesus Ferreira.

Follow @NicholasMendola