Shaq Moore battles for the ball during the first half of the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup match on July 18, in Kansas City, Kansas.
The roster chosen by Gregg Berhalter for the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup is loaded with young relative newcomers hoping to make the most of their opportunity with the U.S. men’s national team.
That includes players like defender Shaq Moore, making his eighth career start for the U.S., who went out and scored his first international goal and the fastest one in team history.
Moore’s goal 20 seconds in at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas, was the only one the U.S. needed on Sunday to top Canada and win Group B with a perfect 3-0-0 record. The U.S. was already assured of advancing to the knockout stage prior to Sunday’s match, but by winning the group the team will avoid a potential semifinal meeting with Mexico and eases its path to the final. Costa Rica or Jamaica await the U.S. next Sunday in the quarterfinals in Arlington, Texas.
Sunday’s win was reminiscent of the tournament opener, albeit against one of the stronger teams in the region. The U.S. opened group stage play with a tight 1-0 win over Haiti in which an early goal held up. It was another defender, in this case Sam Vines, who scored his first international goal in the match.
Four days later the U.S. would find its scoring attack against Martinique. Striker Daryl Dike, making his fifth start in a U.S. uniform, scored two goals and nearly had the hat trick on a goal later ruled an own goal. Miles Robinson, playing in his sixth match, scored his second career goal and Nicholas Gioacchini, playing in his fifth match, scored his third. Relative international veteran Gyasi Zardes scored the other goal in a 6-1 romp.
Berhalter made several changes to his lineups for the three group stage matches. He made seven changes from the Haiti match to Martinique, and four changes from Martinique to Canada. One man who has played every minute is goalkeeper Matt Turner, who has allowed just one goal in three matches. Defenders Moore, Robinson and Walker Zimmerman also started all three matches. One concern for the U.S. going forward will be the health of team captain Zimmerman, who had to leave Sunday’s match with injury.
The U.S. will no doubt look to get more of its scorers going Sunday in the quarterfinals. Playing without such offensive weapons as Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie, Berhalter will hope to find a lineup that will generate more scoring chances if his team is to capture its seventh Gold Cup title.