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Although the US men’s national team will be returning to Children’s Mercy Park after a nervy 1-0 win over Haiti, there’s reason to feel confident about the young roster.
The USMNT were the better side overall in the victory, they controlled possession, and most notably, a handful of fringe options were impressive against Haiti.
The United States will have the upper-hand of not only playing at home, but also going up against a Martinique roster that finished with a 4-1 defeat by Canada in their own Gold Cup opener last week.
This is going to be an exceedingly challenging battle for Martinique.
Despite their automatic qualification into the tournament through the Concacaf Nations League, they often have problems with claiming points in the Gold Cup group stage. And in a group with the USMNT and Canada, there might not be much of a chance for the underdogs this year.
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|United States vs Martinique Information|
|Teams||United States vs Martinique|
|Location||Children’s Mercy Park (Kansas City, Kansas)|
|Time||Thursday, July 15th at 9:30pm ET|
|How to Watch||FS1, TUDN, UniMas|
How has the 2021 Gold Cup gone so far for the United States and Martinique?
For the United States, cautious optimism seems to be a good way of summarizing their tournament-opening win.
The scoreline was perhaps a bit too close for comfort, but for a team that is made up of several backups and inexperienced youth, their 1-0 victory over Haiti remains a step forward.
Were it not for the woodwork — which they hit twice — it could have also easily finished with a 2-0 or 3-0 result in the favor of the USMNT.
Martinique, unfortunately, were pummelled 4-1 by Canada in their introduction to the group stage.
After looking like they could be on their way to an upset after scoring the first goal of the match, Martinique then immediately fell apart with three goals allowed in just 10 minutes.
Failing to create a dangerous response, the Carribean side eventually allowed a fourth from Canada in the 89th minute, thereby securing the 4-1 defeat.
Martinique didn’t look like a cohesive unit during Sunday’s loss — which might make sense when you consider their preparation for the tournament.
Due to their status as a territory of the French Republic, Martinique are unable to qualify for the World Cup and thereby have fewer games on their schedule than other neighboring nations.
That said, they are a member of Concacaf and the Carribean Football Union, which means that they can take part in the region’s Gold Cup tournament.
The downside to this setup is a lack of matches before taking part in the Concacaf competition.
After going a year without a single match, Martinique finally returned to the pitch last week for the first time since November of 2019.
And it definitely looked that way as well.
Regardless of their early goal against Canada, Martinique looked disorganized and sloppy as they had problems with connecting crosses and passes.
Their energy was all but finished by halftime, leading to just one shot in total during the last 45 minutes of their defeat.
The good news for USMNT fans is that even when the roster wasn’t firing on all cylinders, a win was still earned.
There’s so much more that this squad can provide.
With names like Walker Zimmerman, Miles Robinson and Kellyn Acosta already taking charge in the opener, the USMNT just need a couple more players to step up in order to truly start clicking.
And there will be plenty of up-and-comers who will be expected to get minutes this week.
There’s excitement over the ceiling of Gianluca Busio, Daryl Dike could become one of the top young players of the Gold Cup, and Nicholas Gioacchini already had some bright moments.
These aren’t the only names either who will be eager to make an impact.
For all of the conversation about the USMNT leaving out many marquee players, it’s actually quite impressive to see the level of depth that remains on the bench.
As opposed to Martinique who don’t exactly have the best backup plan set, the United States have numerous intriguing options that could be game-changers if needed.
Keep in mind, this month’s tournament will also be somewhat of a tryout for players who might need to make a case for themselves ahead of World Cup qualifying.
With valuable spots on the line, USMNT fans should only expect this team to get better as the group stage progresses.
Freelance writer Cesar Hernandez is a specialist in all things American and Mexican soccer. He has written for ESPN FC, The Athletic, The Guardian, FourFourTwo, VICE Sports and several other publications. Along with writing and previous radio appearances on the BBC, talkSPORT and SiriusXM FC, Cesar is also a member of the Mexican Soccer Show podcast. Email: [email protected]More info on Cesar Hernandez
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