USA looking to begin Gold Cup campaign by stopping in-form Haiti

By Concacaf.com July 11, 2021
USA looking to begin Gold Cup campaign by stopping in-form Haiti concacaf.com

The United States will aim to put a halt to Haiti’s flow when the teams meet in Group B of the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup on Sunday night at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

The U.S.'s overall record against their opening opponent is 7W-6D-9L might surprise some, but U.S. fans shouldn't be surprised by Haiti's ability to challenge on the pitch. Two of the Stars and Stripes' legends, Joe Gaetjens and Jozy Altidore, have Haitian heritage. Former player, Gaetjens played for the U.S. in the 1950 World Cup and scored the stunning game-winner in his team's historic upset over England. Altidore is currently third place for all-time USMNT goals (42) and ninth in international caps at 115.

The U.S. comes in as the defending Concacaf Nations League winners after an impressive 3-2 extra-time win over Mexico in June. Aside from a few holdovers, the team chosen to represent in the Gold Cup is mostly different. This is an opportunity for several players to make an impression on head coach Gregg Berhalter.

This U.S. team still boasts star power from abroad, namely in forwards Matthew Hoppe and Nicholas Gioacchini, who play for Schalke and Caen in Germany and France, respectively, while defender Shaquell Moore plays in Spain for Tenerife. There are a number of MLS stars featured on the roster as well. Between DC United’s Paul Arriola and the Columbus Crew’s Gyasi Zardes, they account for 20 U.S. goals and will look to add to that number in Gold Cup action.

However, Haiti has hit the ground running in the tournament, having already seen game action in the Prelims. Duckens Nazon scored three goals in the Prelims and now has seven overall goals, making him not only Haiti’s top Gold Cup scorer but also for the Caribbean.

Strikers are often more effective as a duo, so it is ideal for Haiti that Frantzdy Pierrot is also rounding into great form, scoring a hat trick in the final Prelims game. Pierrot is now right behind Nazon in overall Gold Cup goals with six. Pierrot working beside Nazon on the field means that the U.S. faces a pair of extremely effective strikers. Goalkeeper Matt Turner’s shot-stopping skills, which have proved to be the best in MLS this season, will now be tested in international action.

The tasks are set for both teams, with the U.S. looking to stop Haiti’s flow and get a good start of their own in a tournament the U.S. have won six times. Haiti will try to maintain their momentum, especially their scoring streak, to build on the semifinal finish the team produced in 2019.

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