Jordan Morris scored his first international goal in more than two years in the 79th minute, giving the United States a 1-1 tie against Uruguay in an exhibition game on Tuesday night.
Brian Rodriguez, a 19-year-old LAFC forward who made his international debut in Friday’s 2-1 win at Costa Rica, put fifth-ranked Uruguay ahead off a counterattack in the 50th minute. Rodriguez took a pass from Federico Valverde, dribbled around defender Aaron Long and beat goalkeeper Brad Guzan to the near post with left-footed shot for his first international goal.
– USMNT depth chart: What are its strengths and weak points?
– O’Hanlon: Is Sergino Dest the USMNT’s next big thing?
– Dyer: How a Nobel Prize winner helped USMNT’s Cannon break through
Morris scored after Jose Gimenez’s attempted clearance near the end line bounced of American defender Nick Lima and bounded in front of the open goal. Morris chested the ball in for his sixth international goal, his first since the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup final against Jamaica.
Morris tore his right anterior cruciate ligament in February 2018 while playing with Seattle and did not return to the national team until March 2019. Morris’ goal was the first for the 22nd-ranked U.S. since Christian Pulisic‘s 87th-minute strike in the CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal win over Jamaica.
U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter praised his side’s fight against an always tough Uruguayan side.
“I think the team did a great job on set pieces. That’s a very dangerous team on offensive set pieces,” Berhalter said in a post-match news conference. “But more importantly it was about the tenacity of our guys, the relentless next of our guys to fight. Uruguay is a team that fights for every single inch.”
The Americans have not been blanked in three straight games since 2009. The Americans have eight wins, four losses and two draws this year under Berhalter, hired in December to revive the team following its failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. They close the year with home-and-home matches against Cuba and Canada in the new CONCACAF Nations League but largely are focused on the start of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup next September.
“The challenge today was the mentality of the Uruguayans is very strong and it’s very warm out today,” Berhalter said. “Wer’e going to play qualifiers where it’s very warm. The capacity to battle through the challenge was very important.”
Joshua Sargent, an emerging 19-year-old forward from O’Fallon, Missouri, played in his hometown, where he sat in the stands for a 2015 World Cup qualifier. His header in first-half injury time when off a hand of defender José Giménez, but Costa Rican referee Ricardo Montero did not award a penalty kick. Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera made diving saves on Christian Roldan’s header in the 11th minute and Sergino Dest’s long-range shot in the 39th.
“Josh held his own and then some. He had a couple of opportinies to score,” Berhalter said. “When we talk about a future player and a future player for U.S. Soccer, he certainly fits in that category.”
Dest, an 18-year-old who has gained playing time for Ajax this season, debuted for the U.S. on Friday and made his second straight start at left back.
“Sergino is a guy who is a clever player. You talk about a player giving you solutions,” Berhalter said. “He’s a guy with a ton of confidence. It’s nice to see a young player with that type of confidence and that type of ability to get up for games and perform for games.”
Tyler Boyd had the best U.S. chance before the goal, but mishit an open right-footed shot from a Morris cross in the 22nd minute and sent the ball over the crossbar. Guzan’s spill of a cross nearly led to a goal in the 23rd minute, but St. Louis native Tim Ream, captaining the U.S. for the third time, cleared Rodrigo Bentancur‘s shot off the goal line.
A day after his 35th birthday, Guzan was in goal for the Americans for the first time since last Nov. 15 at England. Midfielder Sebastian Lletget got his first start since a Lisfranc injury in a World Cup qualifier against Honduras on March 24, 2017.
The U.S. was missing many regulars. Central defender John Brooks, right back DeAndre Yedlin and midfielder Tyler Adams are hurt, goalkeeper Zack Steffen returned to their European clubs last weekend. Pulisic had also returned to club Chelsea.
Paxton Pomykal, a 19-year-old Dallas midfielder, made his U.S. debut when he replaced Morris in the 85th.
The U.S. was making its first appearance at Busch Stadium since a 6-1 win over St. Vincent and the Grenadines in a World Cup qualifier on Nov. 13, 2015.
The announced attendance was 20,625, well under the crowd of 35,761 that watched the U.S. women beat New Zealand 5-0 in a send-off series match at Busch Stadium on May 16.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.