USMNT kicks off Gold Cup with underwhelming win vs. Haiti (video)

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The USMNT kicked off its 2021 Gold Cup campaign with a narrow 1-0 victory over Haiti at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kan., on Sunday.

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Gregg Berhalter’s side, which is made up almost exclusively of MLS players and youngsters from European sides hoping to make their case for a roster spot ahead of 2022 World Cup qualifying in September, was far from sharp in its first outing. Alas, a much stronger Mexico side drew 0-0 with Trinidad & Tobago on Saturday.

The Yanks wasted little time as they threatened the Haitian goal early and often, eventually breaking through when Sam Vines bagged his first USMNT goal in the 8th minute. The cross from Shaq Moore wasn’t particularly dangerous or accurate, but Haiti failed to clear it at multiple times of asking and Vines made them pay.

There were a few worrying issues defensively, though, and Haiti did everything in their power to not equalizer in the 20th minute. Stephane Lambese, who had all day down the right wing, perhaps should have gone for goal himself or crossed into the six-yard box, but elected to cut the ball back for Derrick Etienne, who thumped a first-time effort just wide of the target.

Nicholas Gioacchini went inches from making it 2-0 in the 66th minute, as he got on the ball just outside the penalty area and laced a low strike toward the far post, well out of reach of the goalkeeper. The only problem: he struck the front of the post, not the inside, sending the ball back into the field of play and denying the 20-year-old his third career USMNT goal.

Sporting Kansas City midfielder Gianluca Busio, who looks increasingly likely to head to Europe this summer, made his USMNT debut midway through the second half and nearly marked the occasion with a spectacular goal on his home field. Another half-cleared cross bounced to Busio outside the box and the 19-year-old took it on the half-volley with something behind the strike.

Somewhat disappointingly, it ended 1-0 with the USMNT unable to bag a second goal in 82 minutes of action. In a vacuum, it’s not a great results. I reality, for the first game of a tournament and a roster full of newcomers and B-teamers, it’ll just about suffice.

Up next is a clash with Martinique, who were beaten 4-1 by Canada on Sunday, also in Kansas City on Thursday (9:30 pm ET).

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