The 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup is underway with five Columbus Crew players already making appearances in the tournament. The Black & Gold was supposed to have six representatives in the Gold Cup but goalkeeper Eloy Room is back with the club after his nation of Curaçao was forced to drop out due to a COVID-19 outbreak right before its first match.
Here is a quick look at how the Crew players did to start the Gold Cup.
Gyasi Zardes (United States)
Zardes played all 90 minutes for the Red, White & Blue in a 1-0 victory against Haiti. The striker provided the assist for the lone goal on a nice backward flick to the goalscorer, Sam Vines. The Crew striker was among the best performing U.S. players to start the Gold Cup, complementing his assist with a pass accuracy of 92 percent.
The United States will face Martinique on Thursday in a game the Americans should win incredibly comfortably. It’s possible manager Gregg Berhalter starts Daryl Dike at striker in that match and gives Zardes a rest.
Derrick Etienne Jr. (Haiti)
On the opposite side of Zardes was his teammate, Etienne, and Haiti, who suffered the loss to the Americans in Kansas City. Like his Crew teammate, Etienne played the full 90 minutes for the Haitians as a free-roaming central attacking midfielder. It was a good showing from the Black & Gold winger who got off two good shots and won all four of his duels.
Haiti now faces a must-win match on Thursday against Canada. The Grenadiers are playing with heavy hearts with the recent assassination of Haiti’s president Jovenel Moïse.
Kevin Molino (Trinidad & Tobago)
The new Columbus winger, Molino played the second 45 minutes for Trinidad & Tobago in its 0-0 draw with tournament favorites Mexico in Arlington, Texas. The Soca Warriors started a very defensive lineup against El Tri with Molino on the bench to begin the game. Molino entered the game at halftime and helped defensively to earn a big point for T&T with six duel wins out of eight.
Molino and Trinidad & Tobago will next face Group A leaders El Salvador on Wednesday to begin the second round of group games. The Crew winger should likely start for the Soca Warriors as they push for a quarterfinal berth.
Liam Fraser (Canada)
The Columbus loanee from Toronto FC played the last 15 minutes for Canada in a 4-1 thrashing against Martinique in Kansas City. Fraser did receive a yellow card in the time he was on to go along with 23 touches in his stint that led to 13 completed passes. Despite Canada missing its two biggest stars in Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David, the Canucks are still contenders to make a run at a Gold Cup title.
Canada plays Haiti on Thursday in its second group game with a chance to clinch a spot in the quarterfinals. The two sides met in the quarterfinals of the 2019 Gold Cup with Haiti upsetting Canada 3-2 in Houston.
Luis Diaz (Costa Rica)
Zardes wasn’t the only Crew player to contribute an assist in the Gold Cup this week. Winger Diaz was a late call-up for Costa Rica with his fitness back to 100 percent and he provided an assist in the 3-1 win against Guadeloupe in Orlando. Diaz was subbed on in the 63rd minute and sent in a left-footed cross in the 70th minute to Celso Borges who smashed home Los Ticos’ third goal.
Diaz and Costa Rica have a great chance to advance to the quarterfinals with a Friday match against Suriname. With his fitness back, Diaz could start in this match.
Notes from first group games
- Mexican fans continued homophobic chants during the country’s match on Saturday and open the possibility of harsh punishments if it doesn’t stop.
- The most entertaining first group match was Tuesday night in Houston as Qatar and Panama played to a 3-3 draw.
- El Salvador, Jamaica, and Honduras all got convincing wins to start group play.
Schedule for second group games
WED July 14: Trinidad & Tobago vs. El Salvador (7:30 p.m. - FS1)
WED July 14: Guatemala vs. Mexico (10:00 p.m. - FS1)
THU July 15: Haiti vs. Canada (7:30 p.m. - FS1)
THU July 15: Martinique vs. United States (10:00 p.m. - FS1)
FRI July 16: Guadeloupe vs. Jamaica (6:25 p.m. - FS1)
FRI July 16: Suriname vs. Costa Rica (9:00 p.m. - FS1)
SAT July 17: Grenada vs. Qatar (7:30 p.m. - FS1)
SAT July 17: Panama vs. Honduras (10:00 p.m. - FS1)