The U.S. Men’s National Team kick off their 2021 Gold Cup campaign against Haiti on Sunday night. As usual, the USMNT enter the tournament as a major favorite, along with reigning champions Mexico. Haiti, meanwhile, enter the tournament in the midst of tremendous political unrest after the recent assassination of their president.
What to watch for
1. Keep a high tempo. The United States will control the bulk of possession in this one. They’ll be the protagonists, and will be tasked with the bulk of the chance creation. Slowing the tempo down plays to Haiti’s favor, though. If they give Haiti time to get organized in defense and keep the ball in front of them, they’ll be tough to break down. Head coach Gregg Berhalter will need to ensure that his team switches play quickly and is aggressive with their passing in behind to keep Haiti unbalanced and get good looks on goal.
2. Lock down set pieces. Without a lot of the ball, Haiti will emphasize the counter and dead ball situations. A single mental lapse could give Haiti an unlikely lead and flip the game plan on its head. The USMNT will need to ensure that they’re tight to their men in the box and are first to the ball every time.
3. Who plays in the front line? Paul Arriola should be a lock to start, but the rest of the front line isn’t certain. Gyasi Zardes is a favorite of Berhalter, but Daryl Dike has been a goalscoring machine over the last few months and probably deserves the start. On the opposite wing, does Jonathan Lewis get the start despite hardly playing for Colorado Rapids? Or does someone like Matthew Hoppe slide out of his preferred position to give a different look?
The US have a massive talent advantage. They should be able to take care of business and get their tournament off to a positive start with a 4-0 win.
Date: Sunday, July 11
Time: 7:30 PM Central
Location: Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, Kansas
Television: FS1 (English), Univision (Spanish)