Sam Vines' Early Goal Propels USA Past Haiti in 2021 CONCACAF Gold CupJuly 12, 2021
The United States men's national team opened the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup with a 1-0 victory over Haiti at Children's Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas, on Sunday.
This was the USMNT's fourth straight win and its ninth victory in its past 10 matches.
Haiti hasn't beaten the U.S. since 1973. Les Grenadiers were also short-handed after CONCACAF announced five of their players had tested positive for COVID-19 and went into isolation.
Sam Vines didn't wait around before disappointing those wanting to see an upset.
The Colorado Rapids defender was in the right place at the right time after Gyasi Zardes flicked a Shaquell Moore cross into Vines' path for a header from close range.
According to U.S. Soccer, Zardes' assist made him the second-fastest USMNT player (57 caps) with at least 10 goals and 10 assists. Landon Donovan holds the record after achieving the feat in 50 caps.
Vines' goal was the perfect start for a squad with something to prove in the tournament.
On the heels of winning the CONCACAF Nations League, coach Gregg Berhalter selected a 23-man roster that was missing a number of top stars. Jumping ahead early will have helped ease the pressure on a group that doesn't have much experience playing together.
The United States did encounter a setback in the form of an injury to Paul Arriola, who was subbed off in the 14th minute after experiencing an apparent leg issue.
Arriola missed significant time because of a torn ACL in February 2020, which added a layer of concern to his exit Sunday.
In general, the United States' lack of continuity became apparent as it was unable to maintain any momentum after Vines' goal.
Derrick Etienne wasn't far off from connecting on an equalizer as his shot in the 20th minute flew to the right of the post and hit the side netting.
The USMNT simply looked a bit sluggish, particularly in the first half.
Nico Cantor @Nicocantor1
In these first 45 mins, one thing that has been uncharacteristic of the USMNT has been the pressure once the ball is lost. Usually there's a quick, intense chase to force a turnover.<br><br>Ofc, these are new players that need a couple miles on their odometer with the US and Berhalter
Nicholas Gioacchini, a native of Kansas City, Missouri, nearly had quite the homecoming in the 66th minute. His low shot eluded Haitian goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre but caromed off the left post and away from danger.
Sporting Kansas City forward Gianluca Busio briefly brought the crowd to life again in the 76th minute, when he fired a powerful shot at goal that forced a save out of Sylvestre.
This isn't a performance that will live long in the memory of supporters, but Berhalter will be content to come away with three points.
The USMNT should continue to improve as it gets deeper into the tournament, too, as the players build more of an on-field rapport.
The United States and Haiti are back in action Thursday. The U.S. will take on Martinique, while Haiti will get the day started against Canada.