CONCACAF Gold Cup 2015Sports

Americans advance to Gold Cup knockout stage despite lackluster performance

Courtesy of CONCACAF
Courtesy of CONCACAF

The United States men’s national soccer team booked its ticket to the knockout stage of the Gold Cup with a 1-0 win over Haiti Friday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

After an underwhelming 2-1 win over Honduras to begin the tournament, U.S. Head Coach Jürgen Klinsmann shook up the starting lineup with seven different starters for the Haiti match.

The Americans’ new starting lineup failed to impress in the early going, turning the ball over several times in the middle of the field. Haiti converted those turnovers into several dangerous scoring chances, but could not find the finishing touch.

Haiti’s first chance came 10 minutes into the match when they earned a free kick. Mechack Jerome fired from 30 yards out and nearly gave the Haitians an early lead, but his shot rattled off the crossbar and stayed out.

Haiti threatened again 10 minutes later with a counter attack after another miscue by the U.S. in the midfield. Wilde-Donald Guerrier streaked up the right side, cut back toward the center, but his left-footed shot sailed wide left.

With Haiti in complete control of the game, the Americans almost seized the lead against the run of play in the 34th minute. U.S. striker Jozy Altidore cut back and took a shot that was blocked by a Haiti defender. The deflection found the feet of Aron Jóhannsson, who poked it in.

However, the linesman incorrectly raised his flag for an offsides to deny the Americans the breakthrough and send the game into halftime scoreless.

A lackluster U.S. attack in the first half forced Klinsmann to insert Gyasi Zardes coming out of the locker room, a move that paid dividends instantly.

Zardes made a run down the left side of the Haiti box in the 47th minute and laid it off to the trailer, Clint Dempsey. The hero from the Honduras match came through again, calmly one-timing the ball into the back of the net for his third goal of the tournament.

Haiti nearly grabbed the equalizer in the 57th minute when Duckens Nazon broke free on the right side. U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan came out to challenge and denied Nazon to keep the clean sheet.

Haiti was back on the attack six minutes later. Kim Jaggy’s cross found the head of Guerrier, who hit it with pace, but not on target.

The Americans found a way to win despite being outshot 21-6. Although this wasn’t a convincing win for the U.S., the defending Gold Cup champions have one more game to find their groove before the knockout stage.

The U.S. will close out Group A play against Panama in a rematch of the 2013 Gold Cup final. The match will take place Monday at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas with a 6:30 p.m. scheduled kickoff. Haiti will face Honduras prior to the U.S. and Panama match with both teams still fighting to advance to the next round.

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