It may seem like the hardest part of the 2023 Gold Cup group stage is over for the US men’s team.
Holding a Jamaican side led by four Premier League hitters (easily the Americans’ toughest first-round opponent) to a 1-1 draw in Saturday’s tournament opener in Chicago, the USMNT moved into a strong position to advance from a foursome that also includes Saint Kitts and Nevis and Trinidad and Tobago.
Their next game is Wednesday against Saint Kitts (9:30 pm ET, FS1) and it looks pretty straightforward. While the US has never faced St. Kitts before, the Spice Boyz are ranked 139th by FIFA to 13th for the Americans. The nation of fewer than 50,000 people lost the first Gold Cup game in its history 3-0 on Sunday against Trinidad and Tobago. They will be further outclassed against the defending US champion, who is expected to draw a sellout home crowd to the gleaming new City Park in St. Louis for Wednesday’s contest.
The hosts are the big favorites; FOXBet has the probability of winning from USMNT at an astonishing 95 percent. Anyway, on paper, this looks like an easy dub.
“It’s very cliché to say, but there’s no easy game in professional soccer,” US defender Matt Miazga said Tuesday. “It has happened to me in the past [at] club level when you are expected to win and you don’t have the right approach and you end up losing the game or it’s a tougher game than you think.”
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And in any case, just beating the Sugar Boyz might not be enough to secure a spot in the quarterfinals. If Jamaica also tops Saint Kitts, they, the USA and the Soca Warriors could finish level on points, with goal difference determining which two teams advance to the trade final of the tournament and which one does not.
That encourages the Americans to try to raise the score on Wednesday, or at least improve on Trinidad’s result from three days earlier.
“We want to play at a high pace, we want to push, we want to dominate on the ball,” USMNT interim head coach BJ Callaghan said. “If we’re doing that and we’re executing at a high level, we believe the goals will come.
“We’re not looking at a specific score line or anything like that,” Callaghan added. “We’re just looking to improve Jamaica’s performance.”
I’m sure there’s a place for that. With most of the top American players from European clubs now on vacation after winning the CONCACAF Nations League earlier this month, the US is without its best attackers. He also lost one of the most experienced strikers on this list in the first match; Jordan Morris hasn’t practiced since he injured his knee against the Reggae Boyz and it’s unlikely he’ll show up on Wednesday.
In better injury news, central defender Miles Robinson, one of five Nations League roster holdovers, will be available, Callaghan said, after missing both the final of that event and the inaugural Gold Cup event. due to calf or hamstring pain. .
Callaghan probably won’t have the same lineup as Saturday anyway, at least if the players available to speak to the media this week (Miazga, Gianluca Busio and Sean Johnson are usually reserves) are any indication. It may not be scientific, but the coach didn’t exactly dispute the idea that this matchup is ideal for resting some of the regulars for Sunday’s group stage finale against T&T, a team the US has learned not to. take for granted in the cruelest way. possible in 2017, when a 2-1 defeat in Trinidad prevented the Americans from qualifying for the World Cup the following year.
“We believe in every player that has been selected to this 23-man roster,” Callaghan said. “We will make changes.”
After all, change can be good. Second-half substitutes Cade Cowell and Brandon Vazquez provided a much-needed burst of energy when they came on the bench against Jamaica; It was Vázquez’s goal in the 88th minute that saved what could become a momentous point for the Americans. One or both strikers could start on Wednesday. While the stakes are high for the team as a whole, all the newcomers looking to establish themselves have a lot to prove as well.
“When someone steps onto the court wearing the USA jersey, it’s a great opportunity,” Miazga said. “Because you never know when you’re going to use it again, right? You have to make sure you’re ready, motivated, hungry to put on a good performance. And I think a lot of guys are ready to do that.” “
Doug McIntyre is a football writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer for ESPN and Yahoo Sports and has covered the United States men’s and women’s national teams at various FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.
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