On the grass-over-turf field at Gillette Stadium, the United States eeked out another nervous one-goal win in Gold Cup 2015 play, beating Haiti behind a Clint Dempsey goal early into the second half.
The win clinches the top spot in Group A for the United States, moving to six points ahead of both Panama and Honduras.
The U.S. began with most of the possession, and Haiti predictably looked to press hard and force counter-attacks. They did just that as Mix Diskerud lost the ball at midfield and fouled James Marcelin looking to recover. The resulting free-kick presented the game’s first opportunity, as Mechak Jerome thundered his attempt against the corner of the bar.
Haiti continued to be the more impressive side, and aside from a beautiful flick to free Aron Johannsson that the surface gobbled up, the U.S. had very little going forward through the first 20 minutes. Haiti, meanwhile, continued to have a cutting edge, with Wilde-Donald Guerrier’s shot from space barely clipped wide by Greg Garza.
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The U.S. had its first big chance on 34 minutes when Michael Bradley countered down the middle and found Jozy Altidore on the left. Altidore had an opening but instead cut back onto his right foot and the weak shot deflected to Aron Johannsson who put the ball in the back of the net but the flag went up to rule out the score, although replays showed the goal should have counted.
This triggered a spike in aggressiveness by the United States, and they began to push harder as the first half wound down, but Haiti continued to frustrate them. Hey Jurgen, what’d you think of the first 45 minutes?
Klinsmann made a halftime substitution bringing off Altidore for Gyasi Zardes, and it paid immediate dividends. Zardes got the ball on the left edge of the box, and after he cut back brilliantly to Clint Dempsey in acres of space, the U.S. veteran slammed home the opening goal just two minutes into the second half.
Following the goal, things exploded open and became a track meet. Guerrier had a massive opportunity just past the hour mark, rising above Brad Evans to meet a cross, but he put a powerful header just wide. Haiti continued to produce solid opportunities using speed and shifty moves, but their shooting continued to fail them.
Both sides had some chances get away, including a near-miss for the US from Johannsson on an overhead kick just out of his reach, and a one-on-one for Zardes against the goalkeeper that trickled over the end line. Kyle Beckerman came on to help close things out, which the U.S. did successfully to win the group.
United States: Guzan; Evans, Gonzalez, Ream, Garza (Johnson 67′); Zusi, Bradley, Diskerud; Dempsey; Johannsson (Beckerman 83′), Altidore (Zardes 45′).
Goals: Dempsey 47′
Haiti: Placide; Jerome, Jaggy, Bertin, Goreux; Lafrance (Thuriere 71′), Guerrier, Marcelin, Alexandre, Maurice; Nazon (Louis 66′).