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USA vs. Haiti, 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup: Scouting Haiti

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The USMNT opens the competition against an always challenging opponent.

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Haiti v Bermuda: Preliminaries Second Round - 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images

The journey to a seventh CONCACAF Gold Cup begins for the United States Men’s National Team. Gregg Berhalter’s squad starts the tournament at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas against Haiti, which registered a third-place finish in 2019. Three points is the desired result, but the opponent is not always so amenable to the idea.

This is the 19th all-time meeting between the two nations, sharing a 6-6-5 record. Haiti was forced to go through a preliminary tournament after finishing third in League A, Group D of the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League behind Costa Rica and Curaçao. Les Grenadiers, the highest ranked team in this qualification stage, reached the final competition by easily dispatching of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, 6-1, and Bermuda, 4-1.

Haiti is managed by Jean-Jacques Pierre, who earned 64 caps as a player and is a mere three years removed from retirement. The 40-year-old native of Léogâne was appointed to the position in March after two years of vacancy. In seven matches, he compiled a 5-2 record. The only blemishes are consecutive losses against Canada in last month’s 2022 World Cup qualifying, disappointing results that will keep the country from playing meaningful competition for a few years.

“We’ve learned many things from those games,” the manager said. “We had to change systems, players had to adapt to a more competitive level. We learned much from this. We were three or four players short but since then we have taken all measures available to make sure we arrive today with better preparations”

Pierre named a 23-player squad for the preliminary tournament. The overwhelming majority of the team competes abroad, with only two call-ups from the domestic Ligue Haïtienne. Star young attacker Gamael Dorvil was not included due to alleged paperwork issues. Veterans Mechack Jérôme, Johny Placide, and Wilde-Donald Guerrier will also not be appearing. Injured midfielder Steeven Saba was removed from the roster and will be replaced by one of Soni Mustivar, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, or Hervé Bazile.

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GOALKEEPERS (3): Josué Duverger (Vitória de Setúbal), Isaac Rouaud (J3S Amilly), Brian Sylvestre (Miami FC)

DEFENDERS (8): Kevin Lafrance (AEK Larnaca) Alex Júnior Christian (Atyrau), Carlens Arcus (Auxerre), Jems Geffrard (HFX Wanderers), Ricardo Adé (Mushuc Runa), Stéphane Lambese (Orléans), Francois Dulysse (New England Revolution II), Martin Experiénce (US Avranches)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Derrick Etienne (Columbus Crew), Bryan Alceus (Gaz Metan Mediaș), Zachary Herivaux (Birmingham Legion), Dutherson Clerveaux (Cavaly), Leverton Pierre (USL Dunkerque)

FORWARDS (6): Duckens Nazon (Sint-Truiden), Frantzdy Pierrot (Guingamp), Roberto Baggio Louima (Violette), Louicius Don Deedson (Hobro), Ronaldo Damus (Orange County SC), Carnejy Antoine (Orléans)

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Under Pierre, Haiti has not committed to a single formation but used an intense 4-2-4 as of late. The strength of the squad is in the attacking group, featuring two of the better strikers in CONCACAF. The back line is experienced, although there has been an attempt to incorporate younger players. This team can score goals, while stopping them is a constant challenge.

Projected Haiti Starting XI (via Lineupbuilder.com)

Haiti appears to be moving on from long-term number one goalkeeper and captain Johny Placide, instead relying on the younger Josué Duverger. The 21-year-old was born in Canada and has spent his youth and senior career at several Portuguese academies and reserve teams. Now at Vitória Setúbal, he is a capable shot stopper and thrives in possession, outside of the rare catastrophic mistake. Veteran Brian Sylvestre could also start after a solid appearance against Bermuda.

The center back pairing will likely be Ricardo Adé and Jems Geffrard. The former is a serviceable veteran and served as captain. At 31 years old, the physical defender is known as Le Gladiateur, a battler who will chase the ball to the corner and throw his body into opponents. The latter competes in the Canadian Premier League with Halifax Wanderers. A more stoic player, his game is methodical, reliant on positioning and winning aerial duels.

The left back position is a toss-up, with Pierre having rotated players. Alex Júnior Christian is more of a veteran and has made 31 appearances for Haiti. His crossing can be accurate and there is a natural comfort during possession under pressure in the defensive third. Newcomer Martin Experiénce was added to the program during Olympic qualifying and was immediately promoted to the senior team. Born in France, the 23-year-old competes for Avranches in the Championnat National. Against the USMNT, expect the older option.

Right back is another difficult decision, a true position of depth. Carlens Arcus has been the first choice for the past three matches and was a solid performer at the 2019 Gold Cup. The Auxerre defender is a patient player who will drop back and wait for attackers to make the first move. Back-up Stéphane Lambese has also featured heavily over the past month and contributed two assists against St. Vincent and Bermuda.

If Haiti deploys the attacking 4-2-4 lineup, then Pierre will opt for the familiar pairing. Leverton Pierre of Ligue 2 side Dunkerque made his international debut last month, featuring in the crucial fixtures against Canada. His hard tackling and distribution provide a steadying presence, but his aggression can sometimes lead to danger. His partner, Bryan Alceus, has earned 25 caps since debuting in 2018. Dispossessing him of the ball is a challenge, as he brings a composed nature to the position. Veteran defender Kevin Lafrance could also slot into a midfield role.

Winger Derrick Etienne Jr. is, in a word, dynamic. The 24-year-old typically receives the ball close to the sideline and will attempt to run at defenders before passing or shooting. On the other side of the field is Carnejy Antoine, a competent finisher who can surprise opponents with his speed and is attracting transfer global transfer attention. Capable of lining up at striker or a wide role, the 6’3” native of Paris recently competed his first professional season with Orléans in the third tier of France, a rare feat for the then-28-year-old. His international debut came last month, and he’s already contributed four goals and two assists in five caps.

The Haitian striker pairing is a dangerous duo, one that can keep pace in a back-and-forth match. Duckens Nazon, most recently at Sint-Truiden, has always been more dominant at the international level than with his clubs, scoring an impressive 26 goals in 46 caps. The 27-year-old is always looking to dribble at defenders, regardless of his field location. On the other side of the coin is the physically imposing Frantzdy Pierrot, a 6’4” attacker currently with Guingamp in Ligue 2. He is the biggest target in the box and possesses an understandable, entertaining habit of bullying defenders, equally comfortable of playing with his back to the goal and running with the ball.

Being forced to enter qualifying to reach this Gold Cup is irrelevant, a scheduling quirk due to a tough Nations League draw. Matches against Haiti are usually a war, a team that plays to the level of the opponent. This competition has been referred to by the players as the nation’s “World Cup,” indicating a high energy to start the match. The USMNT should be expected to win, although this could be a necessary challenge to begin the tournament.

The match is scheduled for Sunday, July 11th at 8:30 p.m. Eastern, 5:30 p.m. Pacific. Viewing options include Fox Sports 1, TUDN, Univision, and FUBO TV (free trial).