By Samindra Kunti in Charlotte
July 2 – The United States and Jesus Ferreira stormed past Trinidad and Tobago with a second-consecutive 6-0 victory and a new hattrick for the striker to clinch top spot in Group A on goal differential and avoid a potential clash with Mexico in the semi-finals.
The Americans enjoyed an almost perfect night to dispatch their Caribbean opponents with ease, Ferreira (pictured) once again starring with three goals before the break and substitute Cade Cowell lighting up the second half.
After the group stage, the hosts remain unbeaten on 7 points and the result means they will not face Mexico before the final, pipping Jamaica, who defeated St Kitts and Nevis 5-0, to first place because of a better goal difference.
Arsenal goalkeeper Matt Turner returned to the side among three changes interim coach BJ Callaghan made to take on Trinidad and Tobago, a side that eliminated the United States from qualification for the 2018 World Cup. Up front, Callaghan retained his trust in Ferreira, keeping Brandon Vazquez on the bench.
The FC Dallas forward thanked Callaghan for his confidence with a second-consecutive hattrick, the first player to achieve the feat in Gold Cup history.
Ferreira had scored a hattrick against Saint Kitts & Nevis and his fourth Gold Cup goal meant the goal differential with Jamaica was now four, crucial in the battle for Group A’s top spot. The Jamaicans took the lead against St Kitts, but it mattered little – in a one-sided first half, Ferreira doubled the United States lead converting a cross from Alejandro Zendejas in the 38th minute. With a splitting pass and pre-assist, Djordje Mihailovic, who had four goal contributions against St Kitts, carved open the opponents’ defence. On the stroke of half-time, the home side seized total control when Ferreira completed his hattrick from the penalty spot after Mihailovic has been badly tackled by Alvin Jones in the box.
The US were cruising and well on their way to the last eight. Jamaica got a second, but simply couldn’t keep up with Ferreira and the US. It was only a question of how many more goals they’d grab in the second half. Near the hour mark, Ferreira should have grabbed a fourth with a header from close range and Trinidad and Tobago responded with a bullet by Shannon Gomez that ricocheted off the post.
In the 65th minute, substitute Cade Cowell got his first international goal by stealing a back pass and he impressed with his cameo, cutting in from the left to strike the near post and forcing Trinidad’s goalkeeper into a low save Marvin Phillip. In injury time, he set up Vazquez for a sixth to complete the rout. In between, midfielder Gianluca Busio connected with a pullback cross from Julian Gressel to get a fifth.
In the quarter-finals, the defending champions will meet the runners-up of Group D which could be any of Canada, Guadeloupe or Guatemala.
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