Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna Score as USMNT Beat Northern Ireland in Friendly

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 28, 2021

United States's Christian Pulisic controls the ball during an international friendly soccer match between Northern Ireland and United States, at Windsor Park, Belfast, Northern Ireland, Sunday, March 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
Peter Morrison/Associated Press

Make it two in a row for the United States men's national team. 

The U.S. followed up a 4-1 win over Jamaica Thursday by beating Northern Ireland 2-1 at the Windsor Park in Belfast. Gio Reyna and Christian Pulisic each found the back of the net for the USMNT.  

Ives Galarcep @SoccerByIves

FINAL- #USMNT 2, N. Ireland 1. Christian Pulisic my MOTM, a threat throughout Reyna+Musah= So good Aaron Long strong, really should be in EPL Aaronson so lively in attack, he'll keep pushing for PT Dike showed some good things Bryan Reynolds is raw, but you see potential

Stephen Meyer @StephenMeyerRDC

Could've been 5 or 6 goals for a fun #USMNT squad. But all-in-all a great camp for the group, and a lot learned. My 3 biggest winners: Brenden Aaronson Luca de la Torre Yunus Musah

An absolute golazo from Niall McGinn in the 88th minute made an otherwise comfortable advantage for the United States a bit more stressful in the final moments. 

Reyna got the USMNT on the board in the 28th minute, attempting a shot on goal from outside the box. That effort took a lucky bounce off Northern Ireland's Ciaron Brown, careening into the net past a helpless Conor Hazard. 

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Right, Gio Reyna? ⚽️💥 https://t.co/Flv22ABN3t

Northern Ireland played a big part in the second goal as well, as Daniel Ballard was given a foul for clipping Pulisic in the box as the shifty forward attempted to dribble into space.

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

Welcome back, @cpulisic_10! His first @USMNT goal since October 2019 doubles the lead 🎯 https://t.co/xDPqCoMi8G

Leander Schaerlaeckens @LeanderAlphabet

Christian Pulisic is already tied for 12th all-time in USMNT goals. And his scoring clip -- .428 goals per game -- is better than co-record holders Clint Dempsey (.40) and Landon Donovan (.36). At this rate, Pulisic will pass their record of 57 goals in about 100 more games.

McGinn's thriller cut the lead in half late, but on balance, it was another strong showing for the USMNT. 

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

🚀 OH MY, WHAT A HIT NIALL MCGINN 🚀 @NorthernIreland https://t.co/xGM1QYKguy

Pulisic yet again looked like the creative keystone of the attack, troubling Northern Ireland with his crafty dribbling, advances forward into space and incisive passes. He was the best player on the pitch. 

But youngsters like Reyna and Yunus Musa impressed yet again. Daryl Dike made several fantastic runs through on goal and was unlucky to not get on the score sheet. The USMNT, which likely will mostly run a 4-3-3 with the personnel it has, opened in a 3-4-3 and played well enough in the setup. 

Maximiliano Bretos @MaxBretosSports

Daryl Dike works really well with this system, and specifically with Pulisic. Showed you different ways he can be a threat, on ground and in air.

Men in Blazers @MenInBlazers

Dike could have had a hattrick. Love watching this kid. Hard to believe 3 years ago he was expected to be a squad player at Virginia. Wahoowa

Rob Stone @RobStoneONFOX

Daryl Dike is the future (and the present) up top for the #USMNT

Because the team has questions at center back, it's worth questioning if a 3-4-3 makes the most sense going forward. But the U.S. showed on Sunday it at least has that option in its back pocket. 

Granted, Northern Ireland didn't bring its A-squad to the match, with its top players being rested for its World Cup qualifier vs. Bulgaria on Wednesday. For all of the excitement surrounding the USMNT and its young talent, those players aren't regularly being tested against top countries in international play. 

Jimmy Conrad @JimmyConrad

Iron @MikeTyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” So though there are a lot of positives to take away this week for the @USMNT, we still haven’t seen how they will react after this happens. That’s when we’ll know what kind of team we have.

Ultimately, you play the team on the pitch. The USMNT and its young talent looked very, very promising in wins over Jamaica and Northern Ireland. 

The future is bright for the Americans. The present isn't half-bad, either.