USMNT hammered by Venezuela in final pre-Gold Cup tune-up

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images
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The U.S. men’s national team’s preparations for the 2019 Gold Cup — a tournament which kicks off in six days’ time — are complete with many more questions than answers following a 3-0 defeat to Venezuela at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Sunday.

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Head coach Gregg Berhalter made five changes to the team that was beaten by Jamaica on Wednesday, but the outcome wasn’t just the same — it was actually worse, just in some of the same ways.

Goalkeeper Zack Steffen made another grave error that handed Venezuela the game’s opening goal on a silver platter. Salomon Rondon, who’s still on the books at West Bromwich Albion but scored 11 Premier League goals while on loan to Newcastle United this season, was more than happy to use that opportunity to draw level with Juan Arango as Venezuela’s all-time joint-leading goal scorer.

Jefferson Savarino doubled Venezuela’s lead in the 30th minute, tapping home the rebound after his initial effort struck the post.

Six minutes later, Rondon grabbed his 24th international goal made the record his own with a minor assist from some more passive defending — both in midfield and at the back.

After mustering just five shots (one on target) against the Reggae Boyz, the Yanks were on pace to put up similar numbers until they fell three goals behind in the first half of Sunday’s game. Game states dictating possession and chances as they do, chances were easier to come by in the second half — in part due to Venezuela sitting deeper, and in part due to the introduction of Jozy Altidore as the no. 9.

The Americans’ best chances at a goal came late in the second half. First, in the 68th minute, Nick Lima whipped a curling ball into the six-yard box from the right flank. Duane Holmes couldn’t get an outstretched toe to it at the near post, and Paul Arriola could get on top of it at the back post and sent it high and wide of goal.

Then, in the 80th, another dangerous ball found Altidore inside the six-yard box. This time, solid contact was made and Altidore’s header was on target, only for Wuilker Fariñez to throw his body in front of the ball to preserve the clean sheet.

The USMNT will begin its Gold Cup campaign against Guyana on June 18.