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US Men's National Team Plays Poorly in Gold Cup Opener

14 July 2017

Panama was always going to be the toughest matchup of this group stage, and the United States will now hunt for two emphatic victories against Martinique and Nicaragua to ensure that they finish in first place, the reward for which is a quarterfinal meeting with one of the other groups' third-place finishers.

The U.S. sits on top of its group after two games, thanks to the goals scored tiebreaker, but it will need more of the good in its game to emerge in order to achieve the goal of winning the Gold Cup.

Bruce Arena made eight changes from last Saturday's 1-1 draw with Panama, with only Brad Guzan, Omar Gonzalez, and Kellyn Acosta keeping their starting spots. He may have made just as many changes regardless of the competition after the poor showing the Yanks put in against Panama last Saturday. Arena took a chance, though, believing they could provide the qualities that helped earn them regular roles under Jurgen Klinsmann before injury sidelined Zardes and a sophomore slump slowed down Morris.

Martinique are third with three following Nicaragua who have lost both of their matches so far.

Despite a suffocating defense, the American's inconsistent offense couldn't find the back of the net against Martinique.

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The USMNT also failed to cover itself in glory in the win.

76th minute, 2-2: Uh oh, the US has blown a 2-0 lead after Kevin Parsemain scored his second goal of the game for Martinique.

Gyasi Zardes continues to look out of place on the national team.

Arena juggled his lineup to get a look at almost all the players on his 23-man group stage roster (all teams can add and subtract up to six players for the knockout stage). The service from the flanks has been good for the Americans.

Lichaj showed his ability to get forward as well. Two of the goals came within seconds of each other in the 49th and 50th minutes. And how is it that the US coughs up an equalizer that started with a three-on-three counter-attack?

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A warn out Martinique couldn't produce any chances in the final stages of the contest, and the US killed the game that was closer than most would have expected.

Davies is the talk of the tournament so far; at 16 years old, he is the youngest player to score in Gold Cup history and the first player, worldwide, born after 2000 to score in a full global game.

Juan Agudelo (Off 86′) - 6 - Brighter than his compatriots in the first half, his work out left in the second was significant. Guzan had been the Gold Cup MVP before his second-half mistake. He seemed to put the game away after his first goal, a tidy poacher's finish at the near post.

"We not only have to plan for two games this week, but we have to win both games", the coach added.

You can watch the CONCACAF Gold Cup matches online or offline.

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After all, given they are comfortably the two strongest sides in the group, whoever emerges victorious will nearly certainly top the pool and ensure what should be a more routine fixture in the knockout stages.