Watch all the key plays as the USA faces Guyana in the Concacaf Gold Cup.
The U.S. men's national team enjoyed its return to official, competitive play, some 20 months since its last match on a meaningful stage.
Tyler Boyd scored twice, while Paul Arriola and Gyasi Zardes found the back of the net as well, as the U.S. beat Guyana 4-0 in their opening match of the Gold Cup group stage Tuesday night at Minnesota United's Allianz Field. The match wasn't all positive, though, with Weston McKennie being forced out with an apparent hamstring injury midway through the second half and his status for the immediate future not yet known.
Prior to the match, the Americans had been reduced to playing friendlies ever since failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in October 2017 but can match Mexico's all-time record for regional titles if they can successfully defend the trophy won two years ago. Gregg Berhalter's side didn't enter the competition in the greatest form, though, after listless friendly losses vs. Jamaica and Venezuela. The U.S. wasn't at full strength and was experimenting some for those games, but there would have been no excuses if the all-around struggle continued against the Golden Jaguars, who are ranked 177th in the world by FIFA.
Guyana, surprisingly, came out aggressively off the opening whistle, with midfielder Neil Danns twice surging forward and creating some trouble. The U.S. responded with a pair of crosses from either side, with Boyd–the ex-New Zealand international playing in his first competitive U.S. match–and Christian Pulisic serving in dangerous balls that ultimately were fruitless.
Pulisic continued as the chief U.S. danger source in the opening quarter of an hour, showing his pace while racing through the midfield into the final third and digging into his bag of tricks while trying to create.
For all of the USA's possession, the hosts hardly troubled Guyana goalkeeper Akel Clarke. Boyd put the first chance near goal when trying a speculative long-range chance with his left, but it bounced harmlessly just by the left post.
The upstart visitors actually had a more threatening chance moments later. Callum Harriott, off a short corner routine, had the time and space to put a blast from a left-sided angle just over Zack Steffen's crossbar, with things staying at 0-0 through 20 minutes.
Boyd continued to provide a spark down the U.S. right, crossing for Paul Arriola in the center of the box in the 25th minute, only for the D.C. United winger to have his shot blocked. Two minutes later, Pulisic had the USA's best chance, being robbed at point-blank range by Clarke after a blocked Zardes ball fell into his path in a seemingly perfect position.
The U.S. finally scored the opener a couple of minutes later. It came from Arriola, who took a perfect setup from McKennie and rifled a powerful finish from a left-sided angle by Clarke to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead.
Clarke prevented it from being 2-0 in the 44th minute, after McKennie found Pulisic in the area and the new Chelsea signing laid it off for Nick Lima. The San Jose Earthquakes right back put a powerful chance on frame, but the diving Clarke parried it to safety.
Clarke made another big play on the final sequence before halftime. Lima's cross picked out Pulisic by the back post. He couldn't quite get his best header on it, and with Gyasi Zardes on the doorstep unable to capitalize on the loose ball, Clarke fell on the ball to end the threat–and the half.
The U.S. doubled its lead six minutes into the second half. Boyd tallied his first goal as a member of the U.S.–in his second cap–after taking an accurate pass from Michael Bradley and pulling a right footed shot across goal and into the lower left-hand corner to make it 2-0. The goal was also the 1,000th in the history of the U.S. men's national team, scored in its 700th match.
The lead grew to 3-0 about four minutes later, in fortuitous fashion. Arriola's powerful shot took a deflection off a defender and subsequently ricocheted off of Zardes's face, with the Columbus Crew striker unknowingly getting the final touch on the USA's third.
After that, Berhalter opted for squad conservation, taking Bradley and Pulisic off in favor of Wil Trapp and Cristian Roldan, with the result well in hand and–the U.S. hopes–five more matches to go in the competition.
To Guyana's credit, it didn't wilt, and it nearly pulled a goal back in the 69th minute. Keanu Marsh-Brown forced Steffen into his first save of the match, and the Man City-bound goalkeeper obliged by diving to his left to preserve the clean sheet.
On an otherwise positive night for the U.S., the Americans were delivered a setback in the 72nd minute, when McKennie went to ground holding his left hamstring. He remained seated for a couple of minutes before ultimately limping off and being replaced by Djordje Mihailovic.
As the match entered its final 10 minutes, Boyd struck for his second of the match. The winger curled around and laced a right-footed shot from 18 yards, which took a deflection and beat Clarke to make it 4-0 in the 81st minute.
The result was finished off from there, as the U.S. outshot Guyana 20-4 and outpossessed the underdog 60%-40%, and it will hope to build on that momentum in a grudge match against Trinidad & Tobago in the next group match.
Here was the USA's lineup for the night:
Here are the rosters for both nations:
GOALKEEPERS: Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Tyler Miller (LAFC), Zack Steffen (Manchester City)
DEFENDERS: Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas), Omar Gonzalez (Toronto FC), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact), Matt Miazga (Chelsea), Tim Ream (Fulham), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC)
MIDFIELDERS: Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Weston McKennie (Schalke), Djordje Mihailovic (Chicago Fire), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew)
FORWARDS: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Tyler Boyd (Vitória Guimãres), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)
GOALKEEPERS: Akel Clarke (Walking Boyz Company), Alex Murray (Santos Georgetown), Quillan Roberts (Forge FC)
DEFENDERS: Matthew Briggs (Maldon & Tiptree), Sam Cox (Hampton & Richmond Borough), Kadell Daniel (Dover Athletic), Jordan Dover (Pittsburgh Riverhounds), Liam Gordon (Dagenham & Redbridge), Kevin Layne (New Amsterdam United), Ronayne Marsh-Brown (Whitehawk), Terence Vancooten (Stevenage)
MIDFIELDERS: Elliot Bonds (Dagenham & Redbridge), Brandon Beresford (Peachtree City), Neil Danns (Bury), Stephen Duke-McKenna (Bolton Wanderers), Pernell Schultz (Western Tigers), Daniel Wilson (Western Tigers)
FORWARDS: Callum Harriot (Reading), Sheldon Holder (Morvant Caledonia United), Anthony Jeffrey (Dover Athletic), Keanu Marsh-Brown (Newport County), Terrel Ondaan (Telstar), Emery Welshman (Forge FC)