Injuries, early inefficiency, and a newcomer making a statement were the biggest talking points of the United States men’s national team’s first match of the 2019 Gold Cup.
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Christian Pulisic was back, but not on the score sheet, and was able to be rested over the final half hour or so, and the USMNT scored its 1000th goal in program history.
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Beyond that, here’s what we’re thinking after the 4-0 win.
Ouch, ouch, stop that, ouch: Injury worries
Weston McKennie started slow but eventually played a series of sensational passes en route to an assist on the night.
His industry moving forward and backward were remarkable on the night, but Schalke’s Swiss army knife had to leave the match with a leg injury with a quarter hour to play.
That’s a problem for a side which also saw Tyler Boyd pull up following his bid for a hat trick and is also without Tyler Adams, Sebastian Lletget, and Duane Holmes in the midfield alone.
John Brooks and DeAndre Yedlin are also missing from a U.S. side hoping to make a serious bid for another final at the Gold Cup.
Berhalter said the injury that cost McKennie the final 16 minutes was a cramp. Let’s hope so.
Tyler Boyd shoots his shot
No, he’s not the Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver.
Yes, he’s inspiring a bit of hope for the American Outlaws.
The New Zealand-born 24-year-old likes to shoot, and boy did he in bagging a brace on Wednesday.
Capped five times by New Zealand but now cap-tied to the USMNT by participating in this match, Boyd scored twice and could’ve probably scored two or three more on the day.
The son of an Kiwi father and American mother, Boyd delivered the goods in front of both of them in Minnesota.
“It’s for my family,” Boyd said on Fox after the game. “I’m really proud to be able to represent this country. To do it on this stage is an honor and a blessing. Just a dream come true. It’s been years and years and years of work. It’s been my dream since (I was) a kid. I don’t have the words to describe it.”
Boyd was injured — more on that later — but it looked like it could’ve been minor. His creativity and desire for the ball will be needed moving forward, as he was a fine complement to Paul Arriola in industry and desire.
It still wasn’t good enough
Do not forget that Guyana is the 177th ranked team in the FIFA rankings — a lofty 166th in EloRatings — and the Yanks simply didn’t have the quality or understanding to pile up the goals.
The Guyanese held the U.S. in check for the first half hour before Weston McKennie and Paul Arriola teamed up for a classy goal, and Bradley’s link up with Tyler Boyd for the second was even better.
But Zardes’ goal was a blocked shot that unknowingly pinged off his pace to the point that the American striker appeared dazed for the duration of the celebration. And Boyd’s good-looking second goal took a turn off a Guyanese defender on the way into the net.
As it stands, this looks like a team that wouldn’t beat Panama and might struggle against anyone should Pulisic go down (and especially if McKennie stays down).