ANDREW MINTZ - Monday, July 13, 2015
Another disappointing performance and yet another three points. The US National Team squeaked by an inferior Haiti team with an unconvincing 1-0 win.
In their second match of Group A play, the Americans were again saved by forward Clint Dempsey whose sole goal was enough to please the sold out crowd in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The win pushed the Yanks to six points, clinching the top position in Group A and advancing to the knockout round.
Even so, the Haitians produced 21 shots compared to Americans' mere six, forcing American goalie Brad Guzan into four saves. The Haitians also outdueled the US with 18 tackles won against six, and four blocked shots compared to just one.
Coming off a sloppy 2-1 win over Honduras, the US featured a significantly different starting lineup against Haiti, and yet Coach Jurgen Klinsmann still saw much of the same.
Klinsmann changed his entire defensive line against Haiti, starting Tim Ream and Omar Gonzalez in the middle, with Greg Garza and Brad Evans starting as fullbacks. Mix Diskerud and Graham Zusi were given the opportunity to operate in the midfield with Michael Bradley. And Aron Johansson was given a look up-top with Jozy Altidore.
The US midfield was quick to giveaway the ball, allowing the Haitians to break out into their lightning quick counter attacks. The defense did well to allow any goals, but still the Haitians were allowed into too many dangerous positions. And the American attack was again stagnant, unable to produce many scoring chances at all.
The US managed one decent scoring opportunity in the first half, but striker Aron Johansson's 35th minute goal was incorrectly deemed offside.
After a discouraging opening 45 minutes by forward Jozy Altidore, Coach Klinsmann seemed to have seen enough, replacing the undisputed starter with youngster Gyasi Zardes. Within two minutes, Zardes made his way into the Haitian box, able to drag a pass back to Clint Dempsey who finished his one-time shot with force, 1-0.
Even after taking the lead, the Americans never had a footing in the match, allowing a relentless Haitian team create chance after chance. Forward Duckens Nazon, Haiti's sole goal scorer against Panama in its first match, nearly grabbed his second tournament goal in the 57th minute, but Guzan made himself big enough to block the near-post point blank shot. Haiti continued its relentless pursuit for a leveling goal, but the US defense did just enough to preserve the shutout.
With the win, the US will look forward to its match against Panama in Kansas City as its final opportunity to sort out the kinks before entering the knockout round.