The United States men’s national team opened up its Gold Cup participation with a 4-0 victory over outmatched Guyana as Tyler Boyd scored twice, while Paul Arriola and Gyasi Zardes each scored. It was the national team’s first competitive match under new coach Gregg Berhalter, and things took a while to get going. Fielding a starting lineup that has never played together in a game, it took a while to gel as expected, but in the end it was a result that will do the job in the standings but not enough for fans who have doubts after poor form in recent friendlies. Here are three takeaways from the match:
The score won’t satisfy doubters, but it’s a work in progress
On paper, the U.S. should perhaps be beating Guyana by more. But fans complaining that there weren’t more goals have to realize that it’s a work in progress, it’s the first time these guys have all played together, and it’s going to be a while before they hit the fifth gear.
There were rough spots and there were some bright spots on the night. For the most part the U.S. moved the ball around well in midfield, got the ball wide and played carefully. It wasn’t perfect and it felt like there were five wingers on the field at once, but they were tasked with going out and winning and did just that.
Here’s the winning goal from Arriola which was a fine finish, but peek that assist from Weston McKennie to play him through:
A good start to the tournament, that’s for sure. We might not know a whole lot about this team though until it plays some real competition, but credit to Guyana for its fight as the opponents had some moments.
The U.S. might have itself a player in Boyd
Boyd is an interesting player. The 24-year-old attacker plays in Turkey and was actually born in New Zealand to a father from there and an American mother. He grew up in California and moved back to New Zealand as a child. After five caps with New Zealand, he got the opportunity to switch to the United States and did and was called up to the Gold Cup roster. On Tuesday, he was arguably the best performer. He scored twice, he almost had an assist and was lively. With pace and smarts, he really looks like he can be a key contributor for quite a while. He doesn’t have much size but uses his body well to shield the ball, and with two goals it’s going to be hard to keep him off the field. Here’s his first goal, which was a fine hit down low:
His second was even nicer:
For a 24-year-old, he looks like has the talent to really stick. Credit to Berhalter and his scouts for finding him.
Still sloppy at the back
You can assume it was a fine defensive performance since the U.S. didn’t concede, but it is Guyana. Not much was expected from them in the final third. They had just one shot on goal, but defensively the U.S. still has a ton of work to do. Some of the passing was sloppy despite looking for low, short passes. It was hard for them at times to build properly out of the back, but more so through Aaron Long and not Walker Zimmerman. It wasn’t bad, but it was just a bit sloppy from time to time, though it’s nothing that can’t be fixed. The truth is, this isn’t the ideal backline for Berhalter. Ideally, he would have John Brooks, DeAndre Yedlin and Tyler Adams leading the way, but they all missed the cup due to injury.
In the end, it does the job but it’s far from where this team wants to be. It’s early, and patience is a must.