US beats Grenada 5-0 behind 4 goals from Jesus Ferreira in Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — It was only a matter of when the United States would score massively against Grenada in the Q2 stadium on Friday.

After controlling the entire first half with only one goal to prove, the USA netted four more to run away with a 5-0 win to open the CONCACAF Nations League game.

Jesus Ferreira, who plays for FC Dallas in Major League Soccer, scored the only goal in the first half and then scored three more for record in a stellar performance. He doesn’t equal USMNT’s all-time lead in goals scored in a match with the legendary Landon Donovan, Buff Donelli and Joe-Max Moore. Donavan scored four goals against Cuba in a 2003 Gold Cup game in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

“Lately I’ve been trying to work on my mind and I’m not performing at the level I should,” he said. “I have a group of people around me who support me and let me know what I bring to the team.”

Ferreira said he shifted his focus to the finer aspects of the game, good touch on the ball and when and where to make runs, and it paid off. His second goal was a prime example of that, and it helped that his FC Dallas teammate Paul Arriola was the man to nurture him. Ferreria’s second score came from a great Arriola sting ball into the center of the 18-yard box in the 53rd minute. Ferreira scored with his left in the first half, hit it with the right foot for number 2, and the defeat was from there.

“It’s a special bond,” Ferreira said when he played in the national team with his teammate. “I know every move he can do, and he knows all mine. It makes it easier to connect and score goals.

It clearly didn’t matter that American star striker Christian Pulisic didn’t make the trip as the US dominated every facet of the match. The number 15-ranked team in the world suppressed just about Grenada’s every offensive move and didn’t allow a shot on goal, also having a 67%-33% possession advantage. The US took 25 shots and Grenada only took three.

Grenada head coach Michael Findlay said qualifying for the top tier of the tournament was an achievement for the small island nation just north of Venezuela, but he challenges players to think bigger.

“We are of course disappointed with the result, but I think we were admirable in our performance in the first half,” he said. “In the second half we struggled to control the pace of the game.”

Findlay, a former Canadian national team assistant and interim head coach, said he’s not using it as an excuse, but the reality is that teams like the US have a huge amount of resources compared to teams like Grenada. He said his job is to figure out where he can try to “plug the gaps.”

“There’s about $200 million in players on the other side of the field from us,” he said. “It’s one of the realities where we’re trying to narrow the gap between mind and spirit, and I think we showed that tonight. Sometimes we tried to play and apply the things we worked on.”

Grenada played its third Nations League game this week and the US kicked off the title defense with their first game on Friday. The US travels to El Salvador, the other team in the group, and plays Tuesday.

Grenada earned a 2-2 draw with El Salvador on June 7 after losing 3-1 to them on June 4.

The match was the last for the US on home soil before the FIFA World Cup kicks off in Qatar in November. While trying to figure out who will wear the Stars and Stripes in the small but affluent Middle East, he was impressed by the FC Dallas connection between Ferreria and Arriola.

“He shows his intensity in big matches,” Berhalter said of Arriola. Arriola had a goal and an assist in the game.

The US took their undefeated run to 26 games, tying the team record of 2013-2015. The US won the Nations League tournament last year.

After playing against El Salvador on Tuesday, they are free until the World Cup, when they open the group stage match against Wales on November 21.