Group B: USA 1 -Haiti 0; Canada 4 – Martinique 1
July 11 – The United States opened their Gold Cup campaign in Kansas City with an unconvincing 1-0 win over a combative Haitian team. It was a scrappy start for the Americans but who at then end of the game rode their luck against an improving Haiti.
The US fielded a very different looking starting line up with only one player who started the Concacaf Nations League final against Mexico in June, Colorado Rapids’ Kellyn Acosta.
Despite their inexperience the US began well and on eight minutes went one ahead. Sam Vines arrived at the back post to head in a cross deflected by Gyasi Vardes.
Haiti, whose squad had been reduced to 18 players due to a covid outbreak, were themselves readjusting to a reshaped line up.
In a match that was short on quality but strong on muscularity, the Haitians began to find a rhythm that the US were desperately striving for. If the US were missing the mercurial talents of Christian Pulisic and Gio Reyna, with the engine room of Weston McKennie also absent (they had been returned ti their clubs in Europe prior to the tournament), so Haiti were missing the explosive forward power of Frandzty Pierrot who had scored four goals in qualifying.
The second half was disjointed but the US could not be faulted for lack of effort or a preparedness to meet the Haitian physical challenge head on. Haiti could easily have equalised at the end but the US win is important in the group standing with a strong looking Canadian side also looking to progress.
Haiti face Canada next, a team improved from the last Gold Cup who they beat in the quarter finals. The US have what on paper looks like the easier task of overcoming Martinique, and an opportunity to find their own pace and style ahead of the big games to come.
Earlier in the day Canada had rolled over Martinique 4-1, despite having gone behind to an early Emmanuel Rivere goal. However, by the 20th minute Canada were 2-1 up with goals from Cyle Larin and Jonathan Osorio.
Canada dominated possession and scored a third through Stephen Eustaquio, before Theodor Corbeanu completed the evening’s work with a goal in the 89thminute. Even without Bayern Munich’s Alphonse Davies and Lille goalscorer Jonathan David, Canada look to be an early contender for the late round knockout stages.
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