The United States Men’s National Team began its CONCACAF Gold Cup with a 1-0 victory against Haiti at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City. The winner came eight minutes in from Sam Vines with the assist from Columbus Crew striker Gyasi Zardes, one of five Crew players at the Gold Cup. Zardes’ teammate, Derrick Etienne Jr., played all 90 minutes for Haiti in the loss to the USA.
The U.S. got off to a fast start and the Black & Gold’s star striker made an early impact. In the eighth minute, the Americans generated a good attack when fullback Shaq Moore sent a cross from the right. The cross deflected to Zardes who instinctively lofted the ball behind him to an open Sam Vines who headed home his first career goal for the senior national team goal.
Haiti had its best chance of the first half in the 20th minute as Etienne found an opening for a shot at goalkeeper Matt Turner. The Crew winger’s strike hit the side netting as he immediately screamed in frustration.
The star of the first 45 minutes was Moore, who provided great attacks from the right and looked strong in defense. Moore is 24 and plays for Spanish club Tenerife in the second division.
The second half was relatively even but the United States had the bulk of the good chances to score. Nicholas Gioacchini had three chances to score within the first 20 minutes of the second half with his best chance coming in the 65th minute from an open shot that hit the post. The end of the game turned more physical with harder tackles but the United States held on and got the victory to kickstart its Gold Cup.
Gyasi Zardes makes USMNT history
The Columbus striker’s early assist made some United States soccer history. In his 57th cap, that assist to Vines was Zardes’ 10th for his country to add to his 12 goals scored. With that pass, Zardes became the second-fastest player in USMNT history to reach double-digit goals and assists. The fastest? Landon Donovan, who achieved the feat in 50 caps.
Derrick Etienne plays as free-roaming No. 10 well
When he is in Columbus, Etienne wears the No. 22 shirt and plays on the wing with the versatility to go on the right or left side. For Haiti, he wears the No. 10 shirt and plays as a central attacking midfielder. Etienne played well in that role and has been effective for Haiti in these recent months.
Etienne saw space to run in the midfield and looked to run in transition and play direct passes towards goal. He succeeded and created for Haiti with his shot in the first half being one of the Grenadiers' best chances. His direct running and form with Haiti certainly gives him a case to get more minutes when he returns to the Crew.
The United States will stay in Kansas City and play its second group game against Martinique on Thursday for a 9:30 p.m. ET kickoff. If the USMNT wins, the team likely books its place in the quarterfinals. Etienne and Haiti will look for revenge against Canada on Thursday, just one month after Canada beat the Haitians in World Cup qualifiers.
Group B Standings
1. Canada (3 pts, +3 GD)
2. United States (3 pts, +1 GD)
3. Haiti (0 pts, -1 GD)
4. Martinique (0 pts, -3 GD)