Sometimes in soccer, teams just have to get through a game with a result. That was the case for the United State’s Men’s National Team on Sunday night in a Gold Cup quarterfinal match against Curaçao. Despite being out-possessed and out-shot, the U.S. managed a 1-0 win.
The Americans certainly started the contest brighter, dominating possession and creating chances early.
In just the second minute, creative midfielder Christian Pulisic made a dazzling run through the heart of the Curaçao defense and got off a shot from just inside the penalty area. His effort was wide but it was an indication that the USMNT weren’t messing around early.
Two minutes later and Pulisic had another great chance to score. This time, he made a run into the middle of the penalty box to get on the end of a Paul Arriola cross. The pass was a little behind the U.S. No. 10 but he got enough on it to put a shot on frame. Curaçao goalkeeper Eloy Room reacted quickly, punching the effort over the crossbar.
Twenty-five minutes into the match was when the Red, White and Blue opened the scoring, and, you guessed it, Pulisic was again involved. This time, the Hershey, Pennsylvania native beat his defender out wide before sending in a cross that found fellow midfielder Weston McKinnie at the back post. The Schalke player jumped up and headed his effort into the net for the 1-0 lead.
Following the goal from the U.S., Curaçao began to find its footing. The island nation created a couple of decent opportunities before halftime — one from long range that was deflected wide and a header from a corner — but neither effort troubled Zack Steffen.
Early in the second half, both country’s created some decent opportunities but couldn’t get a good look on goal.
The Americans will be disappointed not to score in the second half, or really generate much in the way of good chances. Gyasi Zardes got on the end of an Arriola cross in the 80th minute but put his shot over. Second half substitute Jordan Morris found the ball bouncing to him in the penalty box two minutes later but also skied his half volley.
Steffen preserved the shutout in the 84th minute when Curaçao fired one of their many shots from outside the penalty box. But the Columbus Crew SC goalkeeper was at full extension to make the save.