Shaq Moore Scores Early Goal as USA Beats Canada to Win Group B at 2021 Gold Cup

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJuly 18, 2021

KANSAS CITY, KS - JULY 18: United States defender Shaq Moore (20) celebrates with fans and teammates after scoring a goal in action during the CONCACAF Gold Cup Group B match between the United States and Canada on July 18, 2021 at Children's Mercy Park in Kansas City, KS. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The United States men's national team closed out the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup group stage in style, earning a 1-0 victory over Canada on Sunday at Children's Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

The two countries had already advanced to the quarterfinals after winning their first two games of the tournament. With Sunday's result, the U.S. claimed the top spot in Group B.

Canada had almost no time to settle into the match before it was staring at a one-goal deficit.

The United States applied pressure right at the outset. Kellyn Acosta found Sebastian Lletget to the left of goal, and the Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder hit a low cross across the box to a streaking Shaq Moore for the opening goal.

B/R Football @brfootball

Twenty seconds in, and the USMNT lead Canada 1-0 😳<br><br>(🎥: <a href="https://twitter.com/FOXSoccer?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@FOXSoccer</a>)<a href="https://t.co/vSi0RqGGQC">pic.twitter.com/vSi0RqGGQC</a>

Moore passed Clint Dempsey (29 seconds) for the record of fastest USMNT goal since the federation began keeping track in 1989.

The pace didn't slow down much from there as Walker Zimmerman and Richie Laryea collided in the penalty area in the ninth minute. Subsequent replays seemed to show both players getting a bit physical, and contact from Laryea may have triggered Zimmerman's stumble into the Canadian midfielder.

Opinions were divided about whether Canada should've been awarded a penalty:

Alphonso Davies @AlphonsoDavies

How isn’t that a penalty....not even a free kick 😡

Ives Galarcep @SoccerByIves

Walker Zimmerman grabs Richie Laryea in the penalty area, but Laryea grabbed Zimmerman pretty clearly in the run-up to that. Will VAR see both fouls, or will Zimmerman be called for the penalty?<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USMNT?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USMNT</a>

George Quraishi @quraishi

I'm a few minutes behind: ***HOW*** was that not a penalty for canada? lol terrible.

Laura Armstrong @lauraarmy

*whispers* I don't think that was a penalty

Instead, the referee pointed to the corner, and Les Rouges' set piece came to nothing.

The United States was unable to press its advantage and seemed to back off a bit after Moore's early goal. That allowed Canada to dictate the pace as the first half unfolded.

The Canadians came out firing in the second half as Cyle Larin and Tajon Buchanan forced Matt Turner to make a pair of saves. 

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

That was close 😬<br><br>Canada comes up with a huge chance to start the second half! <a href="https://t.co/BQ4vu9vssS">pic.twitter.com/BQ4vu9vssS</a>

Laryea was front and center for another contentious officiating decision in the 50th minute when he went down after a shove by Donovan Pines. Once again, Laryea's entreaty was waved away by the referee.

Grant Wahl @GrantWahl

Feel like if there's anything close to Canada drawing a penalty, it should get the call. Multiple borderline penalties that haven't been called in this game.

Fortunately for the United States, Canada didn't create many goalscoring opportunities from its time on the ball. In the 94th minute, Lucas Cavallini let rip with a left-footed effort from just outside of the box, but Turner was in the right place to make a straightforward save.

USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter got the result he wanted, but his team's performance left something to be desired. Pines struggled mightily after replacing Zimmerman. The midfield got overrun. Daryl Dike and Gyasi Zardes were left isolated at the top of the formation and registered little impact.

This isn't the United States' "A" squad, with a number of players responsible for the CONCACAF Nations League win not participating in the Gold Cup.

Still, the U.S. flattered to deceive for the bulk of Sunday's outing. The complexion of the match could've changed dramatically if Laryea had been awarded a penalty for either of his falls in the 18-yard box.

The team will need to raise its game to a different level in the knockout stages.

What's Next?

The United States and Canada await the outcome of Costa Rica's match with Jamaica on Tuesday to determine their quarterfinal opponents.