The U.S. men’s national soccer team played its first competitive match in more than 20 months on Tuesday night in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Its opponents, Guyana, were ranked No. 177 out in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings, out of 211 teams; but, the Americans labored for 45 minutes before pulling away for a 4-0 win.
Tyler Boyd scored two goals, Gyassi Zardes managed to deflect a mishit clearance into the goal for the Americans third and Paul Arriola opened the scoring with creative interplay with Weston McKinnie in the 28th minute.
No one with Florida ties, either through their hometown or club situation, appeared for the USMNT in the contest. But, that won’t stop us at Official Florida Football Club from rendering a verdict on the first competitive USMNT match since the Comeuppance in Couva.
Here are five thoughts on the team’s performance:
- Defenders Nick Lima, Walker Zimmerman and Tim Ream each gave the ball away in their own defensive third in the first 20 minutes. Against better teams, teams whose attackers don’t play in the USL, the Americans would have been punished by such sloppiness.
- The three brightest talents in the USMNT pool — McKinnie, Christian Pulisic and Tyler Adams—have never completed a full 90 minutes together for the full national team. (Adams pulled out of the Gold Cup with a groin injury and McKinnie came off in the 74th minute of Tuesday’s match holding his hamstring.)
- Pulisic was energetic in his 62 minutes on the pitch. He started in the middle of a 4-1-4-1 system; but dictated the game centrally and through combinations on the edge of the penalty area, as well as out wide with Boyd and Arriola.
- The USMNT has played seven matches under Gregg Berhalter. Arriola has appeared in all of them. His consistent running has been an asset for years. If he can begin to create chances for teammates, and finish chances himself he may become a write-in-ink starter for the team.
- Zardes scored a goal, Michael Bradley provided an assist and central defender Aaron Long helped the Americans record a clean sheet; but, there were circumstances where each of the three took too much time in possession, or were a half-second late with their delivery, positioning or alertness to dangerous situations. Against better teams, those small details will be magnified.