The United States defeated Haiti 1-0 in a hard fought match at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The victory guaranteed that the U.S. will finish first in Group A and advance to face whichever third place team from Group B or C finishes with more points.
The USMNT once again started sluggishly, with Haiti looking dangerous early. While the Haitians were easily able to progress into the U.S. defensive third, they had trouble putting shots on target.
Mechack Jerome of Haiti had a beautiful free kick hit the crossbar 10 minutes into the game. However around the 25 minute mark the U.S. started to gain more possession, although Haiti still posed a clear threat on the counter.
Throughout the game Haiti created chances; they outshot the U.S. 21-6 but only put four shots on target. The U.S. had an excellent chance in the 34th minute that Aron Johannsson buried in the back of the net, however he was incorrectly ruled offside. A teammate was ahead of Johannsson near the goal in an offside position but whether or not he was "active" in the play was up for debate.
In the 40th minute, the USMNT had one of its few first half chances, which Jozy Altidore sent over the net from the top of the box. The U.S. and Haiti went into the half tied 0-0, but with better finishing the Haitians could have lead at the break.
The second half saw Gyasi Zardes subbed in for Altidore and Zardes had an instant impact assisting on Clint Dempsey's 47th minute strike. The Zardes subsitituion was a great move by Klinsmann as Altidore once again had a disappointing match.
After Dempsey's goal, until the end of the match, Haiti had the better of the chances. Unlike the Haitians, the Americans failed to create chances and Dempsey's goal was one of two shots on target the entire match for the team. Brad Guzan deserves a lot of credit as he had to make several saves to preserve the USMNT shutout.
After ninety minutes, the U.S. narrowly escaped with a 1-0 win. Jurgen Klinsmann cannot be pleased with such a lethargic performance, although he can now rest players for the meaningless match against Panama.
Possession Without a Purpose
The USMNT had a majority of the ball with 64% possession, although ultimately this meant little. A lot of the U.S.' possession was in its defensive half and posed little threat to the Haitians. The U.S. only had six shots all game, two of which were on target.
No disrespect to Haiti, but it is amazing the U.S. had more goals against the Netherlands than shots on target against Haiti. Possession is an important part of the game but the U.S. did not possess the ball well in the attacking third. Players need to pass the ball and attack with speed and purpose.
Altidore Struggles, Icelandic Kevin Bacon Impresses
Another Gold Cup game, another bad performance from Jozy Altidore. Altidore has always performed better for the national team than his club, but he looks to be in quite a slump right now.
Jozy is clearly lacking confidence and is not aggressively running at defenders like he should be. He didn't put a single shot on target tonight and his chemistry with Johannsson and Dempsey was essentially nonexistent. While Jozy was a disappointment, Aron Johannsson was impressive.
Critics may question how a forward can impress without scoring or assisting on any goals, but Johannsson's runs were dangerous and created important space for Dempsey, Zardes and Altidore.
Johannsson was also unlucky to miss making contact by inches on a bicycle kick attempt that looked promising. After tonight's performance, Aron Johannsson should start over Jozy Altidore in the USMNT's quarterfinal match.
Backups Fail to Impress
Backups Greg Garza, Brad Evans, Graham Zusi and Mix Diskerud all failed to impress given the opportunity to start. Zusi hardly touched the ball playing out on the wing and provided little defensive cover. Also his lack of speed was quite apparent and continues to limit his effectiveness on the international level.
Mix Diskerud had far too many turnovers and unnecessarily conceded the 10th minute free kick that nearly lead to a Haiti goal. Mix also failed to create attacking chances for the team.
Greg Garza and Brad Evans both struggled mightily trying to contain the speedy Haitian wingers and forwards. Garza in particular committed several terrible defensive errors. Evans and Garza also never truly became involved in the attack.
Evans is more a stay at home defender then Garza so deserves less criticism for his failure to overlap, however it is clear both players bring far less to the attack than Timmy Chandler and Fabian Johnson.