The United States men’s national team put together an uninspiring yet victorious performance in their Gold Cup opener on Sunday, beating overwhelming underdogs Haiti, 1-0. Defender Sam Vines scored his first goal for the national team, heading home an effort eight minutes in to give the U.S. all three points.
With the U.S. using their top players during last month’s Concacaf Nations League, the squad at the Gold Cup largely features players who are looking to play their way into coach Gregg Berhalter’s plans for upcoming World Cup qualifying, though many of the intriguing talents didn’t see a lot of the field.
Here’s a look whose stock is rising and whose is falling after this match:
Shaq Moore: The Tenerife man plays right back, where the U.S. is well stocked, but this is a guy to keep an eye on. The Georgia Native, who has played in La Liga, looked pretty darn good against Haiti. His speed, ability to get forward and the confidence in which he plays will surely impress Berhalter. While he is well on the outside looking in, he will at least give Berhalter something to think about.
Walker Zimmerman: He’s clearly the best defender on this team and could very well play himself into an important reserve role moving forward. He was calm on the ball, strong in the air and nearly always felt like a sure thing when going against an attacker.
Gianluca Busio: The 19-year-old Sporting Kansas City talent came on as a sub and instantly looked more creative than any other player. He had a good look on goal with 15 minutes to go, showing his ability to quickly pull off a rocket shot. Most fans wanted him to start in this one, and while they were disappointed that he didn’t, they got a good look at him. He surely earned a start in the next match, bringing that quick creativeness the team needed.
Vines: But, wait. He got a goal, right? It’s true, and he’ll probably earn more minutes as a result, but this is a left back who didn’t look to sharp defensively. He had issues with some of Haiti’s attackers. The effort was there, but the comfort level was not. It’s a great building block, and there are a lot of improvements needed in attack.
Jackson Yueill: Quite a boring display. He looked a bit weak at times, he always seemed eager to play the ball backward instead of forward, and that contributed very little to the team in terms of building. He’s a decent player, but this wasn’t a game for him. Busio should have started.
Gregg Berhalter: Look, winning the Nations League is fine and dandy, but certain selections continue to be questionable. This is a competition in the Gold Cup that doesn’t mean a whole lot this time around with nearly all of the region’s top players missing. Berhalter is doing a solid job, but fans are going to want to see more from him and the team. A predictable display with questionable selections — like not starting Busio and once again going with Gyasi Zardes in attack — aren’t exactly fueling up the fan base. Start Busio and Daryl Dike, and you’ll quickly win them back.