Pulisic taking confidence from record USA away display

By Sports Desk March 25, 2023

Christian Pulisic believes the United States can take confidence from setting a record for away goals as they thumped Grenada.

In winning 7-1 on Friday in the CONCACAF Nations League, it was the first time they had scored seven goals in a match taking place outside the US.

It was USA's first competitive match since the World Cup, with Ricardo Pepi and Weston McKennie each scoring twice.

Chelsea star Pulisic also got on the scoresheet, and had a hand in four other goals too.

"We came out really strong with a lot of energy and just kind of put with them right away," Pulisic said.

"So I think they were kind of surprised by that. Took our goals well and just a great all-around performance. Definitely gives us confidence."

The game was also the first time USA played a competitive match without using a single MLS player since the league began in 1996. 

Interim coach Anthony Hudson was impressed by what he saw from his team, but urged them to finish the job as they bid to reach the Nations League final four.

USA are top of their group ahead of hosting El Salvador on Monday at Exploria Stadium in Florida.

Hudson said: "With a [good] performance and a result like this, you don't want to get carried away.

"The importance for us is just to make sure that we do all the right things between now and the next game and we finish the job off. 

"But the actual performance, I thought it was the result of just a really, really good week."

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    Christian Pulisic stole the show with an eye-catching strike and another assist as the United States opened their Copa America campaign with a 2-0 triumph over Bolivia on Sunday.

    Gregg Berhalter's side never appeared troubled in a routine victory at AT&T Stadium in Texas, thanks to the solo endeavours of captain Pulisic in their Group C opener.

    The Milan forward needed just three minutes to curl in a sublime opener before teeing up Folarin Balogun – who another strike ruled out after the interval – just moments before the break in a one-sided first half.

    Bolivia rarely seemed likely to forge a comeback as the USA managed a winning start to a Copa campaign for the first time since the 1995 edition when they defeated Chile 2-1 in Uruguay.

    Antonio Carlos Zago's side did not heed an early warning when goalkeeper Guillermo Viscarra was forced to rush out and clear in front of Balogun.

    Bolivia were caught napping just minutes later as Timothy Weah worked a short corner with Pulisic, who coasted inside before curling into the top-right corner from an acute angle on the left-hand side of the area.

    Weah – son of legendary forward George – was denied from point-blank range as the USA almost doubled their lead immediately.

    Yet Berhalter's host nation would soon add to their advantage in Arlington.

    Pulisic was afforded the freedom of midfield yet again, dropping into space before offloading for Balogun to cannon a left-footed drive into the bottom-right corner.

    That smart 44th-minute finish marked Balogun's first-ever goal at this tournament and the Monaco striker found the back of the net for a second time after the interval, only for his celebrations to be cut short.

    His routine tap-in from inside the six-yard area was ruled out for offside as Weah had rushed forward to capitalise on Weston McKennie's pass before sliding across for his attacking partner.

    Viscarra was equal to Pulisic's effort before the hour as the forward attempt to recreate his early heroics, while substitute Ricardo Pepi prodded wide from Antonee Robinson's pinpoint left-wing delivery.

    Pepi was denied by fine Viscarra reflexes late on as the USA coasted to an opening victory before their next meeting with Panama on Thursday, a day before Bolivia face Uruguay.

    Pulisic stars in rare USA win

    Pulisic was tipped by many as the USA player to keep an eye on at the Copa America, and the Milan man delivered in emphatic fashion in this opener.

    Fresh off the back of scoring 15 goals across all competitions for the Serie A giants, Pulisic's opening strike had an expected goals (xG) tally of just 0.037 – yet that was no problem for the USA captain.

    His headline-worthy effort halted a woeful run for the USA against CONMEBOL sides at this tournament as well given Berhalter's side had previously lost eight of 10 such games.

    Victory also marked the USA's first Copa triumph over Bolivia in just their second attempt, avenging for a 1-0 defeat way back in 1995 when Marco Etcheverry scored the winner.

    Bolivia wait goes on

    Bolivia were seeking a win against a CONCACAF opponent in Copa action for the first time since the 1997 edition.

    They defeated Mexico 3-1 in the semi-finals of the tournament they hosted 27 years ago, though a wait for another such victory must continue after a drab showing in Texas.

    Carlos Zago won this competition as a player with Brazil in 1999 but his side have a long way to go if they are to even escape their group in the USA.

    Bolivia have now lost their last four international outings by a concerning margin of 9-1, having suffered defeats against Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia and the USA.

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    England smashed the United States with a 10-wicket victory as Buttler powered an eye-catching 83, smashing six fours and seven sixes from just 38 balls.

    Matthew Mott's white-ball side reached their 116-run target with a huge 62 deliveries to spare, sealing their place in the last four with ease after only just sneaking into the Super 8s phase.

    Yet the convincing victory would not have been possible without Jordan, who managed four wickets from five balls – including a hat-trick – to end the USA's innings inside 19 overs.

    Rashid, who also took 2-13 from his four-over spell, lavished praise on the England bowler, as well as captain Buttler.

    "CJ's a match-winner," Rashid said in his post-match interview. "He's been doing it for a number of years, especially at the back end.

    "Jos is a world-class player and has been for many a year, and hopefully we can carry it on now in the semi-finals."

    Rashid was keen to share the credit among the entire England line-up, too.

    "All the bowlers bowled extremely well and to restrict them to 115 was very pleasing," the leg-spinner added. "Always nice to keep it tight and get an early wicket which brings the new batter in.

    "With the wind, you have to assess which end you're going to bowl. The googly's been coming out nicely, too."

    Buttler seemed intent on a one-man demolition in England's chase, crunching the United States all over the pitch, including hammering 30 runs off Harmeet Singh's ninth over.

    "I thought if we could bring our intensity we'd be too good," Buttler said. "I'm still one of the 11, I've got to do my job."

    "We've got great options. We wanted to bring Chris Jordan back, adding a bit of depth with his batting capabilities as well. A World Cup hat-trick is a great effort."

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    Aaron Jones, the star of the USA for much of the tournament, hopes to have put cricket on the American map.

    "This is our first World Cup," he said. "I don't think people would have thought we'd be playing here against the big boys.

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  • Buttler stars after Jordan hat-trick as England book World Cup semi-final spot Buttler stars after Jordan hat-trick as England book World Cup semi-final spot

    England booked their place in the T20 World Cup semi-finals after sauntering to a 10-wicket thrashing of the United States on Sunday.

    Chris Jordan excelled at the end of the USA's innings, taking a hat-trick to finish with remarkable figures of 4-10, while Jos Buttler plundered 83 off 38 balls to see England over the line with 62 deliveries to spare.

    Reece Topley, who failed to take a single wicket in the defeat to South Africa, set the tone early on as he snared Andries Gous for eight in the first over.

    Though Nitish Kumar (30) and Corey Anderson (29) looked to be finding a rhythm for the tournament co-hosts, it did not last long, with Jordan entering the fray to get four wickets in five balls and bowl the USA out for just 115 in 18.5 overs.

    England’s openers got all the work done themselves as Phil Salt scored 25, while Buttler did all the heavy lifting in his knock, smashing six fours and seven sixes, one of which hit the stadium roof.

    Matthew Mott's side are the first team through to the last four thanks to their significant net run-rate advantage over West Indies and South Africa, who meet later on Sunday.

    Data Debrief: Firing on all cylinders

    Jordan became the eighth player to take a hat-trick of wickets at the T20 World Cup, but he also broke a record out in the field; he now has the most catches by a fielder (47) in T20Is for England, overtaking Eoin Morgan's 46.

    Buttler got his first half-century of the tournament in this match, and scored 32 of his 83 runs in a single over, scoring five sixes in the ninth before getting another at the start of the 10th to seal the win for England.

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