Jordan Siebatcheu scored his first international goal in the 89th minute, and the United States beat Honduras 1-0 on Thursday night to reach the final of the first Concacaf Nations League.
John Brooks lofted a pass to Weston McKennie, who cushioned a header into Siebatcheu’s path. The 26-year-old forward, who made his international debut in March, leaned forward for a diving header that put the ball past goalkeeper Edrick Menjivar.
Siebatcheu was born in Washington DC, grew up in France and was eligible to play for both those nations and Cameroon. He made his competitive debut as a 78th minute substitute, part of a new-look American team trying to recover from the failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. He is now tied to the US team.
The US will play the championship match of the inaugural Concacaf Nations League on Sunday, the last time the full American squad will gather before their pandemic-delayed World Cup qualifying opener on 2 September.
After losing a friendly on Sunday 2-1 in Switzerland, the US traveled eight time zones to prepare for the grueling, compacted World Cup qualifying schedule.
The US started with arguably their most-accomplished line-up ever. Five starters – goalkeeper Zack Steffen, right-back Sergino Dest and midfielders Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie and Gio Reyna – combined this season for 33 Champions League appearances. Pulisic made 10 for Chelsea, becoming the first American national team player to appear and win the final. Reyna made eight for Borussia Dortmund, Dest seven for Barcelona, McKennie seven for Juventus and Steffen one as the No 2 keeper for Manchester City.
Pulisic had relatively few touches on a night when the US created few chances.
Reyna dribbled into the penalty area and slid a shot just wide in the 10th minute. A minute later, Steffen saved Anthony Lozano’s long-range shot.
Alberth Elis headed the ball across an open goal mouth in the 27th minute after Steffen came off his line and failed to intercept a free kick, and Josh Sargent beat Anthony Lozano to head the ball away as they both crashed into the net.
Edrick Menjivar dived to his right to parry Sargent’s header three minutes later, then blocked Pulisic’s close-range shot following a pass from Reyna. Steffen made a one-on-one save in the 51st minute when Anthony Lozano raced free.