Despite winning both of their matches and clinching first place in Group A, the United States has been far from their best at the Gold Cup.
[ RECAP: USMNT 1-0 Haiti ]
The USMNT was outshot 16-6 in the opening match against Honduras and 21-6 last night against Haiti, but still managed to take all six points.
While there have been some obvious struggles, one of the few bright spots for Jurgen Klinsmann’s side has been the play of Gyasi Zardes.
Zardes didn’t look too confident as a winger against Honduras as the 23-year-old has his troubles on the defensive side of the ball, but when he came on at halftime as a striker last night against Haiti, he was the difference-maker.
The Los Angeles Galaxy forward was on the pitch for just 61 seconds before he assisted on Clint Dempsey’s goal, which turned out to be the game-winner. Throughout the rest of the second half, Zardes looked dangerous on the attack and was one of the better players in a poor overall performance from the USMNT.
After the match, Klinsmann applauded Zardes’ play, saying the striker has great talent and potential.
Gyasi has this special talent to take people on and also with his speed and surprising elements.
It’s a process that we are watching, that we are helping with. He’s doing a tremendous job. He has a lot of talent, a lot of potential … It’s a real joy to work with him.”
U.S. captain Michael Bradley also spoke on Zardes’ strong play, calling the Cal-Bakersfield product “dynamic,” and saying he will play a big part in the national team picture moving forward.
The match against Haiti was Zardes’ tenth cap for the USMNT, making his debut earlier this year in January. After some early stuggles, he has recently enjoyed a surge of form under Klinsmann. He tallied his first international goal against the Netherlands in June, and continues to improve on the biggest stage.