The USA men’s team made a perfect start to the defence of their CONCACAF Gold Cup title when they beat Guyana 4-0 in their opening game. DC United forward Paul Arriola was the star of the show as he scored and set up another two en route to the comprehensive victory. Tyler Boyd grabbed a brace and Gyasi Zardes diverted in Arriola’s shot in a very one-sided contest. It leaves the USA well placed to top their group and surge through into the knockout stage, where sterner tests will await them.
Leading sportsbooks such as Bovada are offering soccer odds this summer and the bookmakers make the USA the second favourites to win the CONCACAF Gold Cup. They beat Jamaica 2-1 in last year’s final to wrap up a sixth title, and they will move level with Mexico on seven apiece if they can triumph again on home soil this year. Yet El Tri will provide the greatest threat to Gregg Berhalter’s men achieving that goal. Mexico is the outright favourite to win the tournament after picking up a 7-0 victory over Cuba in the opening game and they look to be in fine form right now.
They may be missing key players like Javier Hernandez, Hirving Lozana and Hector Herrera, but they still boast an extremely strong team. It blends youth and experience to devastating effect, and the arrival of former Barcelona and Atlanta United manager Gerardo Martino is a real coup for El Tri. They have a real talent on their hands in Uriel Antuna, the Man City youngster currently on loan at LA Galaxy. He hit a hat-trick in that 7-0 win over Cuba, while Wolves striker Raul Jimenez scored twice. It was supremely comfortable performance, as they enjoyed 72% of the possession and had 30 shots on goal.
It is hard to see anyone else mounting a serious challenge. Jamaica, beaten finalists at the last two tournaments, are a decent team and they have a great player in Leon Bailey, but they are not at the same level overall as the USA and Mexico. Costa Rica picked up a 4-0 win over Nicaragua, and they should go to the latter stages of the competition, but the USA would expect to beat them.
It was 20 months since their last meaningful competitive match, and the new-look team responded well to the challenge. Christian Pulisic will be the main man during this tournament and he showed flashes of his brilliance in the opening stages of the match against Guyana. He has just moved from Borussia Dortmund to Chelsea in a £58 million ($73 million) deal, shattering the record fee ever paid for an American player. He has the ability to go on and become the best player in US history and Berhalter will have to harness his talent correctly if the USA is to vanquish Mexico in this tournament.
Yet this is by no means a one-man team. Arriola was full of danger throughout the contest and he was a worthy man of the match. Boyd’s movement and finishing was strong, and the defence held firm. There will be much tougher games ahead for this team, but it was a morale boosting victory that sets them up well for the rest of the tournament. Berhalter took Pulisic and Michael Bradley off with plenty of time to spare in the game, and keeping star players fit and rested could be key. It is shaping up to end in a showdown with Mexico, and if they can win the midfield battle then the USA could well land a seventh CONCACAF Gold Cup title at Soldier Field on July 7.