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U.S. Holds On for Scoreless Draw Against Uruguay

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Weston McKennie of the United States, right, knocked the ball away from Manuel Ugarte of Uruguay in their friendly match on Sunday in Kansas City, Kan. | Image by Kyle Rivas / Getty Images

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The U.S. men’s soccer team held on for a 0-0 draw with Uruguay on Sunday in Kansas City. It was the second of four exhibition matches this month serving as warmups for the World Cup.

The scoreless draw extends the Americans’ home unbeaten streak to 25 matches since a September 2019 loss to Mexico, one shy of the team record set from 2013-15.

The 12th-ranked Uruguayans provided a good test for the 15th-ranked U.S. team. The South American team will be at the World Cup in Qatar and is talented with a mixture of experience and youth. The Uruguayans handily defeated Mexico 3-0 in an exhibition match just three days prior.

However, the Uruguayan team that took the field against the U.S. featured all new starters from their Mexico game, except for defender Jose Gimenez.

The U.S. made four changes to its starting lineup from its victory against Morocco. Right-back DeAndre Yedlin started for Reggie Cannon, left-back Joe Scally started in place of Antonee Robinson, midfielder Weston McKennie took the place of Brenden Aaronson, and goalkeeper Sean Johnson made the start in place of Matt Turner. It was only the 32-year-old Johnson’s 10th appearance for the U.S. national team and his first since January 2020.

FC Dallas’ Jesus Ferreira had the best chances for the U.S. in the first half. The first came in the 19th minute when a pass fed through by Christian Pulisic found Ferreira in the penalty area, but his tight angle shot from about 15 yards out was blocked by Uruguayan goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.

Just moments later came another chance and another miss for Ferreira. A cross whipped in by Yedlin zoomed by too quickly for Ferreira to react and get good-headed contact, and the ball went off target.

Haji Wright, who scored a penalty in the 3-0 win over Morocco, came on for Ferreira in the 61st minute, as the U.S. continues to look for consistent forward play. U.S. national team forwards have scored just one open play goal in the team’s last 13 matches, and it was by Ferreira during a 5-1 rout of Panama in a March 27 World Cup qualifier.

In the 63rd minute, Johnson came up huge for the U.S. with a world-class save. The 32-year-old goalie used his left shin to knock away a point-blank shot attempt from Uruguay’s Darwin Nunez.

Uruguay made seven substitutes in the game, and it had a significant effect, keeping the U.S. defense under pressure for much of the second half.

In the 93rd minute, Uruguay’s Nunez found himself on a breakaway 1-on-1 with Johnson, but instead of shooting, he decided to lay a pass off to Edinson Cavani, who had a gaping net in front of him from eight yards out. The striker inexplicably put the shot wide, and the U.S. could take a deep breath as they held on to their draw.

The U.S. will now prepare to play 170th-ranked Grenada on Friday at Austin, Texas, the first of two CONCACAF Nations League matches. A meeting at No.74 El Salvador follows on June 14. The U.S. will also compete in two exhibitions in September, but their opponents are yet to be announced.

Just three hours before kickoff against Uruguay, the U.S. found out its first opponent for the November World Cup in Qatar. Wales defeated Ukraine 1-0 on Sunday to seal the last spot in Group B of the tournament. The U.S. and Wales will play their opening match on November 21. The Americans will then face England four days later and close group play against Iran on November 29.

Uruguay plays South Korea, Portugal, and Ghana in Group H of the tournament.

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