Late goal lifts United States past Honduras at Mile High

Before Thursday night, Jordan Siebatcheu had never played in a meaningful match for the United States soccer team much less scored a goal.

But he checked both boxes in a 1-0 win over Honduras in the semifinals of the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League at Mile High.

Siebatcheu, who plays his club soccer in Switzerland and debuted for the U.S. in March against Jamaica, headed a crossing pass from midfielder Weston McKennie in the 89th minute.

“That’s why we put Jordan on (the field),” U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter said. “We know he’s a force on crosses and know he battles in the box and he gave us the edge we needed. To get his first taste of what these games are like was really important. Really proud of him and his effort and obviously getting the goal.”

Siebatcheu’s goal helped the U.S. overcome an underwhelming performance in which it held possession for 60%, but had few quality scoring chances.

“We advanced to a final so we’re happy,” Berhalter said. “This game is exactly what we needed when you think about the level of competition, the competitiveness of the game — some of these guys had never seen that before.… For the guys who had to compete and dig like that at altitude and (in the) heat, they did a fantastic job.”

It the largest-attended event at Mile High since the Broncos’ December 2019 home finale, a sell-out crowd of approximately 35,000 attended the double-header. In the nightcap, Mexico played Costa Rica.

It was the U.S. national team’s first appearance at Mile High since a 1-0 win over Mexico in April 2000 before a crowd of 48,476.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. was playing its first competitive (non-friendly) match in 562 days. Among the U.S. substitutes was Kellyn Acosta, who plays for the Colorado Rapids. He entered the game in the 78th minute.

In the first half, Honduras had the best scoring opportunity when U.S. goalie Zach Steffen played himself out of position and away from the goal. But forward Josh Sargent, tracking his man to the goal-line, headed the ball to safety.

“It was a great moment,” Berhalter said. “To think about (Sargent’s) focus on that play — it’s incredible. Forwards get a lot of credit for scoring goals, but that’s a play that helped us win the game for sure.”

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