ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Folarin Balogun scored in the 13th minute, Brenden Aaronson converted a free kick in the 60th and Ricardo Pepi got a goal in the 79th to lead the United States over Oman 4-0 in an exhibition Tuesday night for a two-game sweep of the Americans’ first matches in Gregg Berhalter’s return as coach.
Khalid Al-Braiki added an own goal in the 81st when he deflected in a cross by defender Kevin Paredes, who had entered two minutes earlier in his U.S. debut.
The San Elizario native Pepi scored his ninth international goal in just 18 career matches with the USMNT. His sixth in six games this year came from just inside the penalty area after settling a DeJuan Jones cross. It was his fourth goal in his last five games as a substitute. Those four goals by a substitute are the most in a single year in USMNT history.
Berhalter was hired after the failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and led the Americans to the second round of last year’s tournament, where they lost to the Netherlands 3-1. He was replaced by interim coaches while the U.S. Soccer Federation investigated a domestic violence accusation brought to its attention by the Reyna family, then was rehired.
The 11th-ranked U.S. has an automatic berth for 2026 as a co-host of the 48-nation tournament, No. 73 Oman has never qualified for soccer’s top tournament.
Next up for the Americans are exhibitions against Germany on Oct. 14 at East Hartford, Connecticut, and three days later against Ghana in Nashville, Tennessee.
Tim Weah started the move toward Balogun’s goal with a cross that bounced all the way across the field. Weston McKennie picked up the ball, turned and beat Abdullah Fawaz, then crossed back to Weah on the far side of the penalty area. Weah laid off the ball to Sergiño Dest, who one-timed a shot that goalkeeper Ibrahim Al Mukhaini parried. Balogun knocked in the ball with his left foot from just outside the 6-yard box for his second international goal.
Aaronson, who had replaced Christian Pulisic at the start of the second half, earned the free kick when he was shoved by Ahmed Al Khamisi. Aaronson put his kick through the wall and past Al Mukhaini on a hop from 27 yards. It was Aaronson’s eighth goal in 34 international appearances.
Benjamin Cremaschi, an 18-year Inter Miami midfielder, entered in the 71st minute and was followed by Paredes, a 20-year Wolfsburg defender. There have been 59 debuts under Berhalter.
The U.S. made four changes from Saturday’s 3-0 win over Uzbekistan. Ethan Horvath started in goal in place of Nottingham Forest teammate Matt Turner, Kristoffer Lund at left back for Antonee Robinson, Miles Robinson in central defense for Tim Ream and Malik Tillman in midfield for Luca de la Torre.
Horvath played his first international match since June 2022.