The United States started its 2019 Gold Cup with a 4-0 win over Guyana on Tuesday night at Allianz Field in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Though Paul Arriola scored the first goal in the 28th minute off a pretty through ball by Weston McKennie, the U.S. struggling to capitalize on its possessions in the final third mostly characterized the first half. The final play of the half encapsulated that, with Nick Lima getting off a good cross but Christian Pulisic failing to convert an awkward header before Gyasi Zardes failed to control a playable rebound.
However, the ball started to roll more in the Americans' favor in the second half. Tyler Boyd opened his international account in the 51st minute, and Zardes lucked into a goal when a shot from Arriola deflected off a Guyanese defender into his face and then into the goal.
The second half was an improvement from the first, sure, but beating the tournament's lowest-FIFA-ranked team in its first Gold Cup by four goals is hardly worth celebrating.
That said, this squad differs from what head coach Gregg Berhalter would have fielded if the U.S. was completely healthy. Tyler Adams, John Brooks, DeAndre Yedlin and Duane Holmes are all absent from the Gold Cup because of injury.
In that way, this opener against Guyana can be seen as a tune-up to build team chemistry within an altered roster for the remainder of the tournament. On top of injuries, seven U.S. players are making their Gold Cup debut.
Berhalter, in his first competitive tournament as the U.S. head coach, had another injury scare when McKennie exited the game in the 74th minute while pointing at his hamstring. While it's not encouraging to see a key player go down in the opening game of a tournament, Berhalter said his 20-year-old winger "should be OK" after experiencing "a little bit of a cramp," according to ESPN's Jeff Carlisle.
McKennie, Arriola and Boyd, who notched a brace in the 81st minute, were the bright spots for the U.S. Pulisic—far and away the best player on the U.S. team—was kept in check before Cristian Roldan replaced him in the 63rd minute.
The U.S. will need big nights from all of them against Trinidad and Tobago, the country responsible for the U.S. missing the 2018 World Cup.
The U.S. will rematch with Trinidad and Tobago on Saturday, and Guyana will take on Panama in Group D play.