While it was never comfortable, the United States opened up its Gold Cup defense on Tuesday night in St. Paul, Minnesota, with a 4-0 win over tournament debutants Guyana. After taking a one-goal lead into halftime, the Americans put in three more goals in the second half to secure maximum points.
Following two warm-up friendlies that ended in losses and no goals scored, the clean sheet and the offensive output are significant positives for Gregg Berhalter’s team. The needed confidence boost on both ends of the field will serve the team well moving forward into the tournament.
Both wingers stood out, with Tyler Boyd putting in a particularly impressive showing. The newly minted U.S. international scored twice and was a constant menace on the right side of the Americans’ formation.
It took too long for the United States to get going against the 177th-ranked nation in the world. The lone goal in the first half was a good one, created through the work of Weston McKennie and finished by Paul Arriola, but Berhalter’s team struggled to create clear-cut chances through the first 45 minutes.
A couple of dodgy defensive moments nearly allowed a breakthrough from Guyana, a warning sign for future matches against better competition. The late injury to McKennie is a cause for concern.
Manager rating out of 10
6 – The choice to start Gyasi Zardes over Jozy Altidore is hard to defend in a vacuum, but it appears that Altidore was not fit enough to be in the first XI. With the U.S. up 3-0 after the first hour, Berhalter was able to pull two key players in Christian Pulisic and Michael Bradley. Tactics were of a secondary concern against an overmatched opponent, which means that judgment will have to be reserved for games against the stronger teams in the group.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Zack Steffen, 6 — Forced into one reasonably difficult save and made it. Made no obvious errors with distribution, an improvement over recent matches.
DF Nick Lima, 5 — Occasionally dangerous up the field, overlapping with Boyd on the right side. Crossed effectively. Exposed in one vs. one defensive situations a few times.
DF Aaron Long, 4 — Showed signs of rust. Slow to respond to two crosses in the box, unnecessarily complicating what should have been simple defending.
DF Walker Zimmerman, 5 — Far from perfect but provided the passes from the back needed to help spark the U.S. going forward. Part of a back line that wasn’t clean enough for comfort.
DF Tim Ream, 5 — Mixed a number of competent defensive moments in with intermittently poor passing and a bad moment 10 minutes from halftime scrambling to deal with a Guyana cross.
MF Michael Bradley, 4 — Struggled in the first half, committing several giveaways after getting caught in possession. Provided a patented diagonal to set up the second goal.
MF Tyler Boyd, 8 — Best of the Americans on the night. Aggressive and dangerous going forward. Scored twice and could have had a third.
MF Weston McKennie, 5 — Provided a pair of key passes in the first half. Sloppy with possession and close control with the U.S. pushed up and vulnerable.
MF Christian Pulisic, 5 — Frustrating night for the best American attacker. Showed ability to dribble through defenders, but lacked the final ball or shot to make those moments count.
MF Paul Arriola, 7 — Scored an excellent goal to relieve the pressure on the U.S. in the first half. Consistently good with first touch and decision-making.
FW Gyasi Zardes, 4 — Made good runs but was let down time and again by a bad first touch. Scored, but not intentionally.
MF Wil Trapp, NR — Smart and in control with the U.S. well ahead in the final half-hour.
MF Christian Roldan, NR — Got off a shot and helped spray the ball wide into space after coming on for Pulisic.
MF Djordje Mihailovic, NR — Made one clear poor decision with the U.S. pushing for more goals late in the game and had a limited impact because of it.