This wasn’t supposed to be about exorcising demons of 2017 or revenge or anything like that. This was supposed to just be another game and taking care of business. Well after a 6-0 thrashing of Trinidad and Tobago, those that wanted revenge for the United States certainly got it.
A flurry of second half goals including braces from Gyasi Zardes and Aaron Long propelled the USMNT not just to a massive total on the scoreboard, but also into the quarterfinals.
It was long who got things started right before half time, heading home a Christian Pulisic cross in the 41st minute on a recycled corner kick. The US centerback stayed forward and
nodded the cross down and T&T keeper Marvin Phillip was unable to keep the ball out at the back post.
Still, Trinidad and Phillip were in the game for the better part of an hour thanks Phillip’s six total saves on the night. But it seemed the US was waiting to open the floodgates and Gyasi Zardes finally broke through in the 66th minute.
Zardes tapped home Nick Lima’s diving header across the goal into an empty net at the back post to make it 2-0, then three minutes later hit a perfect upper 90 shot from the top of the box to finish off a pass from Pulisic.
Still not even 10 minutes after the first Zardes goal, Pulisic himself found the scoresheet, finishing off a pass from substitute Jordan Morris with a deft trap and shot with his left foot in the 73rd. Five minutes later it was Morris again with the assist, as he centered for Paul Arriola to tap home to make it 5-0.
The man who started it all in the first half got the nightcap as well, as Long finished things off in the 90th. Weston McKennie fired a shot off from the penalty spot which was saved smartly by Phillip, but Long reacted to the rebound well and chested home from a yard away to complete the route.
The 6-0 scoreline equaled the USMNT’s largest victory in the Gold Cup, matching a result against Cuba in the 2015 quarterfinals of the tournament. The win also guarantees the US a spot in the top two of the group thanks to Panama’s 4-2 win over Guyana.
Los Caneleros will also be in the quarterfinals as they notched their second win of the group stage. However, Guyana did not make it easy.
Abdiel Arroyo opened the scoring for Panama in the 16th minute, only to have his opener cancelled out from the penalty spot in the in the 33rd. Jordan Dover drew the foul and Niel Danns converted for Guyana’s first ever Gold Cup goal. However the equalizer was short lived as an own goal in the 40th off Terrence Vancooten gaven Panama a 2-1 lead.
More bad luck for Guyana would strike in the second half, when they conceded a penalty in the 48th. The initial PK was saved by Akel Clarke only to be flagged for encroachment in leaving his line too early on the save. Replays showed Clarke possibly still had one foot on the line at the time of the kick but there is no VAR at the tournament, and Eric Davis slotted home from the spot on his second attempt.
Substitute Gabriel Torres completed the scoring for Panama in the 86th minute while Danns added a second goal, again from a penalty kick in stoppage time, for the 4-2 final.
The wins put the United States and Panama on six points, with the USA ahead on goal differential. A draw against Panama in the final group match would clinch the group for the USA while Los Caneleros would need a victory to advance.
Group D play concludes on Wednesday June 26th from Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City with T&T-Guyana followed by USA-Panama