The second match of the Gold Cup for the USMNT was a major turnaround after an ugly win just three days prior. Gregg Berhalter made seven changes to his Starting XI on Thursday night against Martinique, and the Yanks bounced back with a dominant 6-1 win. The result sets up an exciting match vs Canada to decide the winner of Group B on Sunday.
Now, let’s just get this out of the way right at the start.
Yes, it was just Martinique. No, they are not a good soccer team. And yes, you should take those confusing feelings of optimism this match inspired with a grain of salt.
However, this was a resounding win after a disappointing opener. So I’m going to give you a few things that we absolutely did learn from this win, in spite of the weak opponent. Here they are:
The heavy changes brought us closer to finding the Best XI from this roster.
Well, what do you know! Turns out Gregg really did hear you screaming at him through you TV about what the lineup should be.
Seven changes, five players with first-ever starts, and multiple debuts on the night. The only carryovers from the first match vs Haiti were three defenders - Shaq Moore, Walker Zimmerman, & Miles Robinson - and keeper Matt Turner as well.
No analysis needed. There’s simply no way you keep that man on the bench Sunday. Gyasi Zardes came on to score a nice goal himself. But if anything he proved just proved useful off the bench. So I’m claiming a victory there also.
Gianluca Busio may not have set the stage on fire with his first start, but we saw plenty flashes of his brilliance. You know he’s going to bury the next free kick. I absolutely DARE Canada to commit a foul within 30 yards of the goal.
I’m only just now getting to Matthew Hoppe!? What a debut (and first professional game in front of an audience). It’s like when you meet someone and instantly know you’re going to be best friends. Then there was also a strong showing with an assist from the Portland Timber’s Eryk Williamson. Cristian Roldan notched an assist as well.
It’s going to be interesting to see what Berhalter decides to do with the midfield on Sunday.
We should be worried about Canada.
Les Rouges came into this Gold Cup already riding a high. Now they’ve scored eight goals in two matches and are currently atop the Group B table. Even without chosen one Alphonso Davies, the Canadians will be chomping at the bit to get a piece of the Americans.
This is where being aware of Thursday’s opponent comes in handy. The United States had several giveaways in the midfield, and some otherwise nervy moments, that went unpunished by Martinique. But Cyle Larin, who already has three goals this tournament and scored in each of their last four matches, won’t be so forgiving. Neither will the veteran from Cardiff City, Junior Hoilett (two assist, one goal).
It will take all three points against Canada to avoid an early matchup with Mexico. But the Americans will have to tighten up a few screws if they want to win the group.
This team is going to be fun to watch after all!
If you were discouraged after the 1-0 win over Haiti last Sunday, who can blame you? The roster is a far cry from the “A” squad, the attack had no bite, and the depth look very thin.
But after Thursday night, you can’t tell me you aren’t eager to see Hoppe follow up that exciting debut! He’s just getting started. If there’s even a sliver of a chance that I’ll get to see Dike do more of this... go ahead and count me in.
It’s like Varsity scrimmaging against the Freshman team.
The continued progression of Busio, Williamson, and all the young guys will be fun to watch the rest of the Gold Cup as well. No matter the outcome vs Canada. It may not be our real heavy hitters, but there is plenty of talent on this roster and several of these guys are going to play a role in the future of the USMNT.
So there you have it. You DID learn some things from this match, whether you wanted to or not. It was really great to see this response from the Americans after a rough opener. But which team will show up vs Canada on Sunday?
Let us know your takeaways from last night in the comments.