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USMNT vs Jamaica: 3 things we learned in World Cup qualifying

As the U.S. Men's National Team prepares for another slate of World Cup qualifying matches, Joe Prince-Wright, Nicholas Mendiola and Andy Edwards lay out their list of questions the squad needs to answer.

USA vs Jamaica: 18-year-old Ricardo Pepi bagged a second-half brace to lead the USMNT to a 2-0 victory in 2022 World Cup qualifying at Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas.

[ MORE: USMNT World Cup qualifying schedule ]

Pepi made his USMNT debut last month and scored the game-winning goal against Honduras, just when Gregg Berhalter’s side was under pressure after drawing its first two games of World Cup qualifying.

USMNT vs Jamaica final score, stats, results

Final score: USA 2, Jamaica 0

Goal scorers: USA (Pepi 49', 62'), Jamaica (None)

Shots: USA 17, Jamaica 5

Shots on target: USA 7, Jamaica 1

Possession: USA 61%, Jamaica 39%

3 things we learned, USMNT vs Jamaica

1. Adams, Aaronson set the table; guests a little late to arrive: For two-thirds of the field, the USMNT did whatever they wanted. Slow, short passing to build out of the back? No problem. Go a little quicker with vertical balls across more than one line? All good. Carry or one-two the ball through the middle third with little or no pressure? Right this way. But, ask them to do any of the above once inside the final third? A blank stare. Sure, Jamaica were sitting in deep and clogging any spaces in which the USMNT might have looked to combine, but the Yanks had absolutely no idea how to break them down for 45 minutes. In fairness, the USMNT should have been a man up for all 90 minutes and two men up for nearly 60, so they did their part to create dangerous situations which were simply not rewarded (wrongly so).

2. Patience pays off: If you’re at all familiar with Berhalter’s time as Columbus Crew head coach, you’ll understand just how pleasing the manner in which the USMNT scored its opening goal was for him (see below). Going 1-0 up with just 10 games standing between yourself and the World Cup, but have you ever watched your full back overlap all the way to the end line and clip a deftly crossed ball into the penalty area for a headed finish? It’s why the fit with Berhalter in charge — clunky as it may have been at his worst points — was so enticing: virtually every player in the current wave of European talent fits the free-flowing, wide, counter-attacking style that lifted Berhalter into the job in the first place. And the second goal? Same story.

3. Suddenly, sun shines down: With eight points from their first four games (half played at home, half away), the USMNT is suddenly miles clear of the bottom half of the CONCACAF 2022 World Cup qualifying standings. 20 points should see any and all sides through to next summer’s winter’s tournament in Qatar. At the risk of looking too far ahead and getting too excited, things are looking good.

Man of the match: Ricardo Pepi - The USMNT has — gasp — found its no. 9.

USMNT vs Jamaica recap, highlights

Arriola dragged down after 18 seconds; no red card given

If you believe Kemar Lawrence committed a foul — the referee blew his whistle, and that’s all that matters — the only logical result would be that he’s shown a red card and sent off. It doesn’t matter that it happened in the 1st minute, and it’s not the referee’s job to not “change the game” by making the call. Doing so is his job.

[ VIDEO: 5 key questions for USMNT in World Cup qualifiers ]

Aaronson wiped out from behind; no red card given

We shudder to think what level of violence would be required for referee Reon Radix to give a red card in this game.

Sergiño Dest crosses, Ricardo Pepi heads home; USMNT leads 1-0 (goal video)

The ideal Gregg Berhalter goal (see above).

Brenden Aaronson crosses, Ricardo Pepi heads home for 2-0 (goal video)

The other ideal Gregg Berhalter goal (also, see above).

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