Sebastian Lletget leads U.S. national team past Jamaica

Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget scored two goals in the final seven minutes Thursday, capping the U.S. national team’s 4-1 victory over Jamaica in an empty stadium in Wiener Neustadt, Austria.

Sergiño Dest and Brenden Aaronson had the other goals for the U.S., one in each half.

The game was the first of 2021 for the core of coach Gregg Berhalter’s European-based U.S. national team, which is beginning a busy and consequential year that includes the Nations League in June, the Gold Cup in July and eight World Cup qualifiers in the fall.

Dest, who’s been moved across the field from right back to the left side, opened the scoring in the 34th minute with a solo effort for his first international goal. Taking the ball at near the midfield stripe, he dribbled deep into the Jamaica end, then cut to his right to create space before unleashing a well-placed right-footed shot from 25 yards that eluded the outstretched left hand of goalkeeper Jeadine White at the far post.

Dest scored his first two La Liga goals for club team Barcelona in his last game.

Christian Pulisic, making his first appearance with the national team in 526 days, had an impressive opening half and had a chance to double the lead just before the intermission, but his right-footed free kick was too strong, bending well over the crossbar.

Eight minutes after taking over for Pulisic, Aaronson, a halftime substitute, did get the second goal, deflecting a low feed from Josh Sargent in from the edge of the six-yard box. The goal was the second in three national team appearances for Aaronson.

Jamal Lowe halved the U.S. lead in the 70th minute, chipping a soft shot over U.S. keeper Zack Steffen and into the side netting at the far post for his first international goal. It was also the first score allowed by the U.S. since November.

But Lletget, one of three MLS players on the 23-man roster, pulled that one back 13 minutes later with a one-timer from the top of the box. The assist went to second-half substitute Nicholas Gioacchini.

He then closed the scoring with another right-footed shot, this one from well inside the penalty area, in the final minute of regulation for this sixth goal in 19 games with the national team.

The U.S., which dominated from the opening whistle, outshot Jamaica 27-9, putting seven of those tries on target.

The U.S., unbeaten in its last eight games, will continue its preparations for a busy 2021 Sunday when it meets Northern Ireland in Belfast.