USA-Cuba Takeaways: Easy does it

The USA cruised past Cuba, 6-0, to record its most lopsided victory in 65 matches at the Gold Cup. Clint Dempsey, Gyasi Zardes, Aron Johannsson and Omar Gonzalez scored in the first half, and Dempsey added two goals in the second half.

1. USA coasts thanks to early knockout punch.

The USA found itself on its back foot in each of the first three games at the Gold Cup, but it took care of business quickly with goals by Dempsey in the fourth minute and Zardes after a quarter of hour.

For the first time in the tournament, the USA got contributions from its outside players. Timmy Chandler fed Dempsey for the first goal with a perfectly lofted cross with his left foot. Fabian Johnson raced up from his left-back position to find Zardes, starting on the right wing, at the far post with his centering pass.

"From the first minute on, they were spot on," said U.S, coach Jurgen Klinsmann. "It’s not easy to get a rhythm going with that heat. Throughout the match, they tried to get another and another one.”

2. Dempsey responds to Klinsmann's admonition.

Klinsmann said he stripped Dempsey of his captaincy so he can concentrate on scoring, and he's done just that. Dempsey has scored in each of his last five starts for the USA, dating back to the 2-0 win over Panama in February.

Dempsey's three goals on Saturday -- the first on a header, second on a penalty kick he chipped down the middle, third with a sweep of the outside of his right foot -- give him the first hat trick of his international career and 47 goals, moving him to win 10 goals of the U.S. career record held by Landon Donovan.

Dempsey termed the decision to give Michael Bradley the U.S. captaincy in the aftermath of the his suspension for tearing the notebook of referee Daniel Radford in an Open Cup match "just a little detail" in an interview with ESPN FC and admitted "a weight had been lifted" by the decision.

3. Easy win leaves USA in good shape for the rest of the tournament.

Cuba's problems at the Gold Cup continued when forward Ariel Martinez left the team, becoming the fifth player to defect since the start of the tournament. With or without the five players -- only Martinez had started when Cuba opened the tournament with a 6-0 loss to Mexico -- Cuba was never going to have much of a chance against the USA but it looked like a demoralized team on Saturday afternoon.

The easy win in hot and humid Baltimore -- 99 degrees at gametime -- will leave the USA in good shape for the semifinal against Jamaica or Haiti in Atlanta on Wednesday. Timmy Chandler was replaced at the half with what was described as a lingering knee issue. He was the only surprise in the starting lineup as DaMarcus Beasley had been brought in for the knockout stage but did not play against Cuba.

Klinsmann had rotated his lineup for the three Group A matches, while most other teams still alive had used basically the same lineups in their three games. The USA is about as rested as a team can be for the tournament's 19-day sprint.
12 comments about "USA-Cuba Takeaways: Easy does it".
  1. Andy Wagner, July 20, 2015 at 8 a.m.

    Speaks poorly about the caliber of the tournament...You play on the back foot in three games and still advance. Get to knockout rounds and win 6-0. It is no wonder why we do so poorly in the important tournaments with formidable opponents. Why not enter the U17's in this would be very competitive plus prep the youngsters for what is to come.

  2. # 12, July 20, 2015 at 8:52 a.m.

    Agree second tier tournament. Other than qualifying for the Confederations Cup what is the point of playing Wondo, Beckerman, Àltidore, Zusi, Gonzalez, etc. I know what these guys can do and I'm not blown away by them. Playing the U17 might help with development but they would probably get out muscled. That would be a good lesson for them going forward. U20s would be a better fit and I liked the two backs Miazga and Cameron Carter-Vickers along with some other kids like Arriola. Use the Gold Cup for new talent and not same old crowd.

  3. BJ Genovese, July 20, 2015 at 9:15 a.m.

    first USMNT game I have not finished watching in a few years.

  4. Joe Linzner, July 20, 2015 at 9:49 a.m.

    incredible sentiments! Yet had we lost and been knocked out who would be the target for these brilliant sentiments.. In my humble opinion I suggest you all stop watching altogether, get Klinsmann fired and simply walk away from a second tier tournament! It is the way CONCACAF is set up keep complaining, don't watch it and lets face it Klinsmann should never play anyone he feels can help win games. I forgot that when JK used but a few regulars in Europe against the Netherlands, and Germany the criticism of playing such a relatively "weak" lineup was also hotly criticised by a similar cadre of experts.

  5. John Mcdermott, July 20, 2015 at 12:40 p.m.

    Just looking at the score this could be one of those first round WWC blowouts between two teams of greatly different quality. But this is the knockout phase of a confederation championship. That does not speak well of CONCACAF competitions. The USA may well win the Gold Cup. It ought to. But, a berth at the Confederations Cup aside, what is that really worth when it comes to where the USA aspires to be, and clearly thinks it belongs?

  6. John Soares, July 20, 2015 at 12:44 p.m.

    You Go, Joe!!!:) The team is what it is! The same for CONCACAF. If we are to get better we need to play as many games as possible... and I for one will watch them.

  7. Brian Kraft, July 20, 2015 at 1:38 p.m.

    Cuba is an anomaly at this tournament for reasons that all of these belly-achers know...or should know. Every other side that made the quarters was worthy. Please get over the fact that the US is not in Europe and remember that three CONCACAF sides made the 16 in Brazil last summer. I also question roster choices, but we live in CONCACAF and the idea that we shouldn't go 100% in this tournament makes no sense whatsoever.

  8. beautiful game, July 20, 2015 at 3:11 p.m.

    What a joke. This tournament needs to be reinvented and the refs/ARs need to pass the laws of the game exam.

  9. Santiago 1314, July 20, 2015 at 3:31 p.m.

    I can give you $1,000, 000.oo Reason's to Win the Gold Cup(Forbes)... These are PRO Players after all...Wouldn't you like to go out and Chase a Ball around and get Bonus Money for it??? The Longer, The Easier; the Better, from the Players perspective, Staff and Administators...All those Salaries need to be Paid Somehow... After All; You can't Suck Off their Parent's anymore in Pay-for-Play Scheme... I'd be Pissed if I were an "A" Teamer and you brought in the U-17, when I had a chance to make some "Easy" additional Money for my Family... I'm sure the CBA With the USSF has something to do With; Starts, Sub-in, etc..

  10. Ric Fonseca, July 20, 2015 at 3:34 p.m.

    Of all of the above comments, Biran Kraft's is the only one that speaks sensibly! Besides, since the US "belongs" within the CONCACAF "confines" I wonder what would happen if Sunil Gulati and his amigos would tell CONCACAF, "ya'll know what, we'll pass on the next CONCAF gig and instead will play with CONMEBOL, or someplace else..." So, until if and this happens, well as they say in the coaching courses, "let the ball do the work," and get your asses out on that field! PLAY ON, I say!!!

  11. Santiago 1314, July 20, 2015 at 3:43 p.m.

    That is if Ted Howard (Interim CONCAcaCrApF) Director can find where Blazer hid the Money... I suggest looking under the mattres In the Kitty Kat Penthouse on 5th Ave..!!!!

  12. Santiago 1314, July 20, 2015 at 4:05 p.m.

    @Ric,... Forbes Reports; "CONmyBalls, would NOT be able to pay its Prize Money for the Copa Sur America (Chile)..." ...Seems that all the Bank Accounts have Been Frozen.!!! Some sort of Scandal going on!??!??..Hummm??? Going South.??? NOT a Good Option... But it's OK, their all coming to Play here Next Year (we Hope!!)

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