The United States have only played two of three Gold Cup group stage matches, but they've already clinched first place in Group A. The Americans topped Haiti, 1-0, on Friday to give them six points in the competition and win them the group.
The U.S. are on six points, four clear of second place Panama. Haiti and Honduras are at the bottom with a point apiece.
While the U.S. are obviously happy to get the results they needed, they can't be happy with how they've played. The Americans were sloppy in their opener against Honduras and even worse against Haiti. They had most of the possession, but rarely turned it into shots and certainly not chances. In fact, Haiti had more good chances than the U.S.
The changes to the U.S. lineup and lack of continuity can't have helped things. Jurgen Klinsmann made seven changes to his team from the first match, including an entirely new back four. It showed as the defense struggled and Haiti took them to halftime scoreless.
Gyasi Zardes entered for Jozy Altidore at halftime and immediately made a different. He bursted down the left, got in behind the defense and then dragged the ball back for Clint Dempsey at the penalty spot. Dempsey, who scored two goals in the Americans' opener, buried his shot into the back of the net and the U.S. had themselves a lead.
Things didn't get better for the U.S. just because they had a lead. Brad Guzan was called upon to make a couple good saves and the lineman's flag helped them out on one occasion -- to be fair, the U.S. had a goal wrongly disallowed for offside in the first half.
In the end, the U.S. isn't trying to peak in the group stage. They certainly wish they were playing better, but they got the results they needed to top the group and have gotten nearly everyone's feet wet so it's a fine start to the Gold Cup.
The U.S. will return to action on Monday when they take on Panama in their group stage finale. From there, it's on to Baltimore and the quarterfinals, where they will get a team that finished third in Group B or C.