The U.S. men's national team wrapped up first place in the Gold Cup's Group A after a 1-0 win over Haiti Friday night, but it was far from easy.
Clint Dempsey's goal–marking his fourth straight U.S. game with a tally–just over a minute into the second half was the difference, as the Americans fended off a valiant effort by the upstart Caribbean nation to secure its second straight six-point haul to open the tournament. With Panama and Honduras playing to a 1-1 draw earlier in the night, also at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, the USA is assured of the top spot ahead of Monday's group finale vs. Panama.
The Americans beat Honduras 2-1 in Tuesday's opener, getting two goals from Dempsey and staving off a Honduras rally to take all three points. After a putrid first half, the USA turned to Dempsey again to get on the board.
Dempsey received a cut-back pass from halftime substitute Gyasi Zardes just moments into the second half and finished emphatically to give the USA its lone goal. For Zardes, who replaced Jozy Altidore, it marked the latest instance of him making an impact for the USA during his budding international career. For Dempsey, it brought him to 44 career international goals, 13 shy of Landon Donovan's U.S. record.
Haiti was the far more threatening team throughout the first half. Mechack Jerome grazed the crossbar with a dangerous free kick in the 11th minute, and the Haitians' counterattack proved to be a handful for the U.S. to handle. The Americans did have an apparent good goal waved off for offside after Aron Johannsson put one in the back of the net as the first half wound down. Replays showed he was onside and the goal should have stood.
After Dempsey's goal, Haiti nearly pulled level in the second half, but Brad Guzan made a one-on-one save on Duckens Nazon, who scored Haiti's equalizer in its opening draw against Panama, racing off his line to block the forward's breakaway attempt.
Left back Greg Garza, part of a number of starting lineup changes that Jurgen Klinsmann made, became cap-tied to the USA with his appearance and set up Zardes with a ball from the left flank.
Here's how the match unfolded:
GOALKEEPERS: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake), William Yarbrough (Club Leon)
DEFENDERS: Ventura Alvarado (Club America), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Greg Garza (Atlas), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Tim Ream (Bolton Wanderers)
MIDFIELDERS: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Mix Diskerud (New York City FC), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt), DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham Hotspur), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
GOALKEEPERS: Steward Ceus (Atlanta Silverbacks); Jaafson Orgine (Don Bosco); Johny Placide (Stade de Reims)
DEFENDERS: Judelin Aveska (Gimnasia de Jujuy); Frantz Bertin (Aiginiakos FC); Reginal Goreux (FC Rostov); Bitielo Jean Jacques (Kraze United); Kim Jaggy (FC Aarau); Mechack Jerome (Charlotte Independence); Kevin Lafrance (Miedź Legnica); Jean Jacques Pierre (SCO Angers)
MIDFIELDERS: Jean Sony Alcenat (Petrolul Ploiesti); Jean-Marc Alexandre (Negeri Sembilan); Wilde-Donald Guerrier (Wisla Krakow); Jeff Louis (Standard Liege); James Marcelin (Fort Lauderdale Strikers); Pascal Millien (Jacksonville Armada FC); Soni Mustivar (Sporting Kansas City); Sony Norde (Mohun Bagan); Sebastien Thuriere (Charleston Battery)
FORWARDS: Kervens Belfort (Ethnikos Achnas); Jean Eudes Maurice (Nea Salamis Famagusta); Duckens Nazon (Stade Lavallois)