KANSAS CITY, Kansas (July 11, 2021) – The U.S. Men’s National Team earned a 1-0 shoutout against a spirited Haiti side to start Group B play of the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup on Sunday evening in front of a festive crowd at Children’s Mercy Park. Left back Sam Vines did the damage with a first-half header from seven yards out, scoring his first international goal in his first official competitive match.
Three players made their USMNT debuts: James Sands, Eric Williamson and Sporting KC’s Gianluca Busio, with Busio earning his first cap in his home club stadium to the delight of the fans in attendance.
Vines, Sands, Williamson and Busio were among the nine players who made their USMNT debuts in official competition tonight, joining goalkeeper Matt Turner, defenders Shaq Moore and Miles Robinson, midfielder Nicholas Gioacchini and forward Daryl Dike. Turner, Moore, Giaocchini, Dike and Busio are all now cap-tied to the USMNT.
The U.S. started on the front foot and nearly got on the board after six minutes when defender Walker Zimmerman put his attempt off the crossbar and a shot by Zardes off the rebound was saved. The winning goal came minutes later with Zardes setting up Vines on a play that started two passes earlier by Zimmerman.
Zimmerman nearly doubled the U.S. lead late in stoppage time of the first half when he jumped over two defenders at the far post to head down a Sebastian Lletget cross on goal from a tight angle. However, Haiti goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre was well-positioned to make the save.
Haiti struggled to develop much of an attack in the first half, with winger Derrick Etienne having a couple half chances that failed to test Turner in goal.
The teams made a number of changes throughout the second half, and the U.S. had the better of the few clear chances either side developed. The two best chances came from substitutes, with Gioacchini clanking a shot off the left post and Busio hitting a one-time strike from the top of the box that Sylvestre was able to rise and deflect.
Haiti threatened to find the equalizer with a last-minute scramble in front of Turner, but the U.S. defense did well to hold on to the three points.
The USMNT will remain in Kanas City and face Martinique on Thursday, July 15 (10 p.m. ET, FS1, UniMás, TUDN) before closing out Group play next Sunday against Canada.
GOAL SCORING RUNDOWN:
USA – SAM VINES (GYASI ZARDES), 8th minute: USMNT center back Walker Zimmerman stepped forward and advanced a nice ball to Kellyn Acosta on the right edge of the box. Acosta quickly played the on-rushing Shaq Moore who hit a first-time cross. The ball took a slight deflection before Zardes - back to goal - flicked it over a defender across the six where Vines had run in from his left back spot to easily head the ball in for his first goal. USA 1, HAI 0
KEY DEFENSIVE PLAYS AND SAVES:
HAI – BRIAN SYLVESTRE, 6th minute: Sebastian Lletget sent a corner from the left side to the back post where Jackson Yueill knocked the ball back towards the middle. Amid a sea of bodies, defender Walker Zimmerman’s half-volley from just outside the six clanked off the crossbar. The quick rebound fell to Zardes, who was able to redirect the short-hop towards goal by Sylvester reacted quickly, diving to his left on the line and parried the ball wide.
USMNT Starting XI Cap Numbers (including tonight’s match): Gyasi Zardes (57), Paul Arriola (36), Kellyn Acosta (32), Sebastian Lletget (25), Walker Zimmerman (15), Jackson Yueill (13), Jonathan Lewis (8), Shaq Moore (6), Miles Robinson (4), Sam Vines (4), Matt Turner (2).
Tonight’s Starting XI had an average of 17 caps and average age of 25 years, 360 days.
Sebastian Lletget captained the USMNT for the first time tonight. The 28-year-old midfielder is the 12th different player to wear the armband under head coach Gregg Berhalter.
Nine players made their USMNT debuts in official competition tonight: goalkeeper Matt Turner, defenders Shaq Moore, Miles Robinson, Sam Vines, James Sands, midfielders Nicholas Gioacchini, Eric Williamson and Gianluca Busio, and forward Daryl Dike.
Turner (eligible to represent Lithuania), Moore (eligible to represent Trinidad and
Tobago), Gioacchini (Italy and Jamaica), Busio (Italy) and Dike (Nigeria) became officially cap-tied to the USMNT.
Moore earned his first USMNT appearance since playing in the 1-0 friendly defeat to Italy on Nov. 20, 2018 in Genk, Belgium.
Walker Zimmerman earned his first start since the 1-0 win against Costa Rica on Feb. 1, 2020.
Zimmerman and Miles Robinson partner together in central defense for the first time tonight. It’s the 13th different central defensive pairing deployed under Berhalter.
Gioacchini was able to represent the U.S. just 17 miles from where he grew up in Overland Park, Kansas.
The USA now holds a 7-6-5 record in 18 all-time matches against Haiti.
The USA is 3-0-1 against Haiti in Gold Cup play.
The USMNT is 21-6-3 in 29 matches under Berhalter.
-U.S. MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM MATCH REPORT-
Match: United States Men’s National Team vs. Haiti
Date: July 11, 2021 Competition: 2021 Gold Cup – Group Stage