Gyasi Zardes, USA Men's Team Dominate Trinidad and Tobago 6-0 in 2019 Gold Cup

Megan ArmstrongCorrespondent IIJune 23, 2019

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 22: Gyasi Zardes of USA celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 2-0 during the Group D 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup fixture between United States of America and Trinidad & Tobago at FirstEnergy Stadium on June 22, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

The United States men's national team was on edge against Trinidad and Tobago until Aaron Long headed home a cross from Christian Pulisic in the 41st minute on Saturday at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.

It proved to be the spark plug, as the U.S. finally found an offensive rhythm in the second half and defeated Trinidad and Tobago 6-0 to advance to the knockout stage of the 2019 Gold Cup and avenge its 2017 loss that kept the team out of the 2018 World Cup.

Long's first goal—he notched a brace in the 90th minute—buried an otherwise underwhelming performance from the American side in the first half.

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

USA TAKE THE LEAD! 🇺🇸 Pulisic sets up Aaron Long who heads it home and puts the USMNT on 🔝 #GoldCup2019 https://t.co/m9qINBZvxl

Paul Carr @PaulCarr

Here's a good one... Aaron Long is the first #USMNT defender with two goals in a game. EVER. (Definitely in the modern era. And EVER, assuming lineups in the USMNT media guide are positionally accurate before the 1980s.)

The header came up big for the U.S. again in the 66th minute when Nick Lima headed a cross toward Gyasi Zardes, who tapped it home. Zardes completed the brace in the 69th minute after Pulisic set him up at the top of the box.

And then Pulisic added a goal of his own to his two assists in the 73rd minute.

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

GYASI ZARDES MAKES IT 2! 🇺🇸 What a pass by Michael Bradley to set it up 🔥🔥🔥 #GoldCup2019 https://t.co/nEMiLdgVLE

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

ZARDES AGAIN!!! Two goals in 3 minutes for the Columbus Crew star! #GoldCup2019 https://t.co/DbVQmQdQ0O

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

PULISIC ADDS ANOTHER! 🇺🇸 The goal fest continues in the second half for the @USMNT! #GoldCup2019 https://t.co/2swNrbbl0q

The U.S. did well to generate more chances in the second half. One of the Americans' best looks came when Weston McKennie threaded a perfectly timed through ball to Paul Arriola, whose shot landed just wide.

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

Just wide! Weston McKennie sends a perfect pass into the path of Paul Arriola who puts it just wide of the net. https://t.co/1x77AjhyyM

While that particular play was fruitless in this game, it illustrates the type of passing attack the U.S. needs to sustain throughout a full 90 minutes if it wants to have a chance against stronger competition in the knockout stages.

More specifically, Pulisic's increased involvement and production in this game compared to the opener against Guyana is paramount for the U.S. moving forward:

Taylor Twellman @TaylorTwellman

Pulisic putting on an absolute clinic in the 2nd half. His movement off the ball, his decision making in final 3rd situations to open the game, and his pressure on the ball are all things that make him so good and so important to #USMNT.

Another encouraging development in the second half for Gregg Berhalter's squad was Jordan Morris, who clocked his first Gold Cup minutes when he replaced Tyler Boyd in the 61st minute. Morris contributed two assists and provided reliable depth for an injury-riddled side.

Ives Galarcep @SoccerByIves

Can’t forget about Long. who had the all-around game that provided a reminder of why he is going to be so important to the #USMNT ‘s hopes of winning the Gold Cup.

As a whole, the U.S. looked much crisper in the attack than it did against Guyana. The final game of group play against Panama, which defeated Trinidad 2-0 in its opener and Guyana 4-2 earlier Saturday, should be the next step in building a cohesive game from start to finish ahead of the quarterfinals and beyond.


What's Next?

The U.S. will finish Group D play against Panama, while Trinidad and Tobago will wrap up against Guyana. Both matches are set for Wednesday at Children's Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.