American football cruises to win Martinique in Gold Cup at KC
The 2021 iteration of the Gold Cup is seen by many fans in the United States as an opportunity for a group of young football stars from the country to impress on the big stage.
That vision didn’t really come to fruition in the United States’ opener against Haiti on Sunday, with a team filled to the brim with MLS experience scoring a 1-0 victory.
But on Thursday night, the vision of a young men’s national team came to fruition when an American team with an average age of 23 won a 6-1 victory over Martinique at the Children’s Mercy Park.
“That’s the only reason we chose this roster and why it was so important for us to test these guys ahead of World Cup qualifying,” said US head coach Gregg. Berhalter. “It’s going to be awesome, I can’t wait to be there.”
The effort was spurred on by a pair of goals from Daryl Dike, 21, who became the second youngest player to score a brace in United States Men’s National Team history, placing behind Christian Pulisic .
A self-defeating goal by Samuel Camille from Martinique deprived Dike of the hat trick. Second-half goals from Miles Robinson, Gyasi Zardes and KC’s child Nico Gioachhini completed the rout for the United States
Martinique’s only goal came via a penalty just after the hour mark.
The announced crow was 7,511. Once the US lineup was announced, this crowd had reason to be excited.
Names such as Sporting KC native Gianluca Busio (19), Matthew Hoppe (20), George Bello (19) and Dike (21) littered the starting lineup.
And the kids impressed.
âIt’s a nice feeling when you give the guys opportunities and they take it,â Berhalter said.
âI look at some of the other young guys, like Busio, Bello, (James) Sands, Robinson, it was a very young group today and to have this performance and this game we wanted to win and we wanted to improve and we wanted to win convincingly, “he continued.” I think that shows the kind of quality that we have. “
Dike opened the scoring in the 14th minute, placing an excellent header at home from his attacking partner, Hoppe.
The match was the first of Hoppe’s professional career to play in front of a crowd. The winger made his debut for Schalke’s German team during the COVID-19 pandemic and, with Germany yet to welcome fans to the stands, was having a first at Children’s Mercy Park.
Less than 10 minutes later, the score was doubled.
Winning his first international start, Busio received the ball at his feet in the box and landed a shot in front of Martinican goalkeeper Gilles Meslien. The shot seemed destined to enter the back of the net.
But instead, he cracked under the crossbar, bounced a few inches from the goal line and turned to the mess of the players in the box. Dike was the first to touch the ball and his head was eventually knocked over by Camille from Martinique.
The United States had a 66% possession advantage at halftime and didn’t slow down in the second half as Robinson extended the lead to three in the 50th minute.
The defender returned home with an empty goal after 24-year-old Eryk Williamson, who was making his second national team appearance, threw the ball into the 6-yard penalty area for Robinson to score.
The duo of Busio and Williamson arguably controlled the game for the United States, as Busio dictated the tempo of the game and Williamson sought to turn around and attack whenever he had the ball.
Dike scored his second goal of the game in the 59th minute before being replaced by veteran Zardes who continued the youngster’s work with a goal of his own.
“I think he played well and scored good goals, he showed why we really value him and think he is an important part of our team,” Berhalter said of Dike.
But the real excitement for the Kansas Citians continued until the last few minutes.
As the clock ticked down to 90 minutes, Busio scored a low cross on the goal-face to 20-year-old Gioacchini, born in Overland Park. The roar of the Kansas City crowd was the loudest all night, despite the victory already secured.
The victory secures the United States’ qualification to Group B and into the knockout stage, but the United States falls behind Canada on goals scored.
Canada beat Haiti 4-1 on Thursday before the United States entered the field at Children’s Mercy Park. With the United States and Canada tied on goal differential, Canada holds first place in the group after scoring one more goal.
“We pushed and unfortunately we didn’t score that last one, but we’re still in a good position to finish first in the group and that’s our goal for the US Men’s National Team. “said midfielder Cristian Roldan.
The United States and Canada will face off at Children’s Mercy Park for first place Sunday at 4 p.m.