Haiti 0-0 — 0
United States 0-1 — 1
That didn’t take long. The U.S. men’s national team won Group A and booked its ticket to the Gold Cup quarterfinals on Friday night, defeating Haiti 1-0 at Gillette Stadium.
It wasn’t a particularly well-played game and the USMNT looked out of sorts and unsure in the opening 45 minutes of play but a win is a win and this win keeps the team completely in control of its tournament destiny.
Although he’s not wearing the captain’s arm band, Clint Dempsey continues to, at least statistically, lead the United States, netting his third goal of the tournament in the 47th minute of play. Dempsey has scored all of the USMNT goals in the opening two games of the Gold Cup. The United States has one more pool play game left, taking on Panama in Kansas City on Monday night. The squad will then advance to the quarterfinals next week, facing off against the third place team out of either Group B or C.
Click here for a full box score and recap of the USMNT victory over Haiti.
Clint Dempsey Scored the Game’s Lone Goal in the 47th Minute
All Clint Dempsey had to do was kick.
Thanks to a near-perfect pass by second half sub Gyasi Zardes, the USMNT forward got his team on the board in the 47th minute, putting the ball in the back of the net on a short shot just inside the box. Zardes was an incredible sparkplug for the squad, igniting the offense and allowing Dempsey to move back to front line after spending much of the first half on the midfield.
It’s Dempsey’s third goal of the Gold Cup. The United States has scored three goals this tournament, so far.
The US Back Line Stood Tall Against Haiti’s Offensive Attack
Haiti more than doubled the United State’s shot total throughout the match, out-shooting the stars and stripes 21-to-6, but while the pressure was certainly on, the USMNT back line stood tall, particularly in the final minutes of the match.
Brad Guzan, a social media sensation after his save in the 57th minute, was aggressive between the pipes and the U.S. defense looked almost like a hockey line, taking blocked shots consistently and with ease.
It took a little while for the group, which saw a lineup shift before the match, to gel but once the United State’s defense settled into its roles during the second half, Haiti’s offense could not find a clear line to the goal. Brad Guzan finished the game with four saves, despite Haiti controlling just 36 percent of the game’s ball possession.
Brad Guzan Made a Tremendous Attacking Save in the 57th Minute
Haiti’s counter-attack had been the United State’s biggest weakness throughout the match but goalie Brad Guzan was strong in net and, most importantly, aggressive. Guzan made the save in style in the 57th minute, taking on Haiti’s Duckens Nazon one-on-one and attacking out of the box to keep it zeroes on the scoreboard.
The USMNT Started to Attack Late in the Half But it Was 0-0 at the Break
Well, it wasn’t exactly pretty but the United States seemed to find some of its rhythm in the final minutes of the first half and went into the break tied 0-0 with Haiti.
Per ESPN, at the break, Haiti had out-shot the United States nine-to-three with neither team recording a shot on goal in the first 45 minutes of play. The USMNT controlled 69 percent of the game’s possession. Overall, the U.S. under achieved in the first half and U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann was less-than-thrilled with his team’s performance:
Aron Johannsson Got the Best USMNT Chance in the First Half
…He was offsides. Or at least he was called offsides.
Michael Bradley got the USMNT moving in transition, for the first time all match, putting the ball directly on Jozy Altidore’s feet in the box who then tried to control possession by centering it to Johannsson in the 34th minute. He was called offsides.
At that point in the game, the United States had just two shots total and no shots on goal. Haiti, which also picked up two early yellow cards, had seven.
Haiti Attacked Earlier But Could Not Connect
Donald Guerrier, who dazzled with some on-field gymnastics in the sixth minute and finished the game with seven shots, shot just wide of the net in the 21st minute, unable to get Haiti on the scoreboard early.
The underdogs simply kept coming in the first half of play, taking advantage of a sloppy field at Gilette Stadium and even sloppier play by the USMNT. Haiti had also earned the game’s first free kick after USMNT Mix Diskerud was whistled for a foul when he lost possession of the ball, but Mechack Jerome’s kick bounced off the cross bar and up over the goal.
Preview: USA Looks For Second-Straight Gold Cup Win
Former USMNT captain Clint Dempsey scored a pair of goals on two different United States set pieces to lift his team to a 2-1 victory over Honduras in the Gold Cup opener earlier this week. Both goals actually came off headers as Dempsey was able to find some serious ups against Haiti. He basically flies towards the net on his second goal.
Haiti, meanwhile, is primed for an upset against the USMNT after years of fielding less-than-talented squads, snagging a point against Panama when Duckens Nazon netted the equalizer in the 86th minute. The United States may be the favorite in the match, definitively, but the team refuses relax.
That’s a “JK” for Jurgen Klinsmann, not for “just kidding.” As if to prove how serious he is about this match, which would send the US to the Cup quarterfinals, Klinsmann said he plans to use the game as a bit of a tryout for future playing time.
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