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Nations League recap - USA 4-0 Cuba: The Americans take Group A

Onto the semis

Soccer: CONCACAF Nations League Soccer-Cuba at USA Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The United States took on Cuba in Georgetown, Cayman Islands needing a win to seal their advance to the semi-finals in the Concacaf Nations League. An early goal for the Yanks would set the tone for the match as Cuba put forward an energetic, but fruitless effort. The performance wasn’t perfect, but with a 4-0 win on the road, the result was absolutely what the team needed.

The game had everything for the US at least. There was the surface that looked like it had recently been ravaged by goats, Aaron Long’s glistening widehawk, Cuba playing brave if not poorly executed soccer, some silly things almost happening with passes between Brad Guzan and his defenders, and a whole lot of goals for the USA.

Gifs of goals

The US scored within a minute on a goalkeeper blunder that was credited to American hero Josh Sargent.

Through the next 20 minutes, Cuba pressed for an equalizer when they were able to maintain possession as the US tried to work the ball into shooting chances as the nominal home team was mostly kept within their defensive third.

The Cubans would get a chance as a wayward shot deflected off of Weston McKennie forcing Brad Guzan to make a diving stop just before the 20 minute mark.

Though Cuba had been effective at frustrating the US attack, another defensive blunder would lead to a second score for the Stars and Stripes. This time, a Cuba defender lunged at a long cross headed to the top of the 18 yard box and missed. It fell to Jordan Morris and the forward slotted home a nice finish to beat the Cuban keeper to make it 2-0 in the 26th.

While the US dominated, there were still some unsure moments in the back. When Cuba elected to press as the Americans were organizing their buildup, the forward players in red were able to force some sloppy passes between the centerbacks and Guzan. Nothing came of it, but the sequences were oddly familiar from other matches in the Berhalter era.

Not only did Cuba not score, but the US added to their lead in the 39th minute thanks to poor clearing by Cuba and once again Jordan Morris.

And 3-0 is where the half would end as the US was comfortably in control.

The second half began with Morris making way for Tyler Boyd, but that would be the most exciting thing the US would do to open things up. Cuba continued to make the buildup difficult for the Americans and there wasn’t much of an answer from the Stars and Stripes in terms of improving their midfield play. In response, Berhalter brought in Reggie Cannon for DeAndre Yedlin at right back.

The subs would make a difference though as the US found the back of the net in the 66th minute. A nice pass from McKennie found Cannon on the right who sent a cross into the box. It looked to be going long, but Boyd backheeled it just before going out of bounds into the path of Sargent who sent a shot past the keeper to make it 4-0.

It was a nice moment for Boyd who had not made an impact in a US uniform since the Gold Cup. With the lead well in hand, Berhalter once again went to the bench to bring Alfredo Morales in for Cristian Roldan in the 69th.

The US largely was happy to continue trying to work possession and find a 5th while Cuba did their best to find a goal. A good chance came for the home team on shot created from a set piece that forced Guzan into a diving save.

In the end, the match went the way the US would have wanted with a few things to improve on. It was also the first away match the team had won since Jurgen Klinsmann was managing the team. While the opposition wasn’t near top quality and the US is coming off of a bad loss in their last trip outside of the States, it is perhaps something the squad can find a positive from for their next road game.