For 88 minutes, the U.S. men’s national team’s first competitive game in 562 days appeared to be petering out with a whimper.
For 88 minutes, the USMNT’s performance in its most significant match since July 2019 was, in a word, underwhelming.
Then a 25-year-old who’d never scored a national team goal came to the rescue.
Jordan Siebatcheu’s 89th-minute header beat Honduras in the CONCACAF Nations League semifinals, sent the U.S. to Sunday’s final, where it could meet Mexico.
Siebatcheu was born in Washington, D.C., but spent much of his childhood and all of his youth career in France. He played for the French U21s and French clubs, before going on loan to Switzerland’s BSC Young Boys in 2020.
But chose to play for the U.S. internationally, and debuted in a friendly earlier this year. Thursday’s match was his first competitive one with the Yanks. He came off the bench to replace Josh Sargent in the 78th minute. And not too long after setting foot on Denver’s Sports Authority Field, he pounced on a Weston McKennie knock-down, and powered his own header into the roof of the net.
John Brooks, who was commanding as usual from his left center back position, played the delicate chip that unsettled the Honduran defense and sparked the sequence.
The goal masked an underwhelming U.S. performance overall. The Americans were fluid and at times purposeful, but wasteful and unconvincing in the final third. They were, on several occasions, vulnerable on the counter and on set pieces. In both the first and second half, Honduras crafted glorious chances to take a lead of its own.
But it squandered them, and Siebatcheu powered the U.S. to an energizing victory, a winning start to its ramp-up toward World Cup qualifying, which begins this fall.
In Sunday’s inaugural CONCACAF Nations League final, which was delayed a year by the pandemic, the Americans will meet Mexico or Costa Rica. On the line will be their first senior trophy since 2017.
More from Yahoo Sports: