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USA vs. Guyana preview: Pressure on USMNT to deliver improved performance

Excitement for the Gold Cup feels like it’s never been lower. Previous editions of the tournament have garnered low enthusiasm because in the year preceding the World Cup (2017, 2013, 2009, etc), most of the contenders send their B or C squads. But this is not one of those years. Everybody is bringing what they feel is their best possible squad. And yet, the energy and passion is not quite there for the US fans. Perhaps it’s because the hire of Gregg Berhalter and his dreadfully boring demeanor have done little to inspire fans. Perhaps it’s because Berhalter has either failed to call up or sent home every young, exciting non-MLS based player. Perhaps it’s because Berhalter’s team has been housed in both of their warm-up friendlies against poor opposition. Whatever the case, very few people are fired up to see the US take on Guyana in their Gold Cup opener.

For as much as the American soccer media excoriated Jurgen Klinsmann for being a “tinkerer”, they seem to have missed that fact with Gregg Berhalter completely. His setup and planning for the camp leading into this Gold Cup has defied logic (though that hasn’t stopped anybody with any access to the team from raving about his attention to detail and vision for the future.) First there was a mixed camp with the US U23 team, then a variety of players were swapped out for the Jamaica friendly. After that game a few more changes were made for the official 23-man Gold Cup roster, which Josh Sargent was bizarrely excluded from (not only that but he was also not allowed to go to the U20 World Cup in Poland, nor was he called in for the US U23 camp last week). Following the beatdown at the hands of Venezuela, a few more changes have been made. Tyler Adams has been sent home with an injury, as has Duane Holmes. The two European based players were replaced with two MLS players: Djordje Mihailovic of the Chicago Fire and Jonathan Lewis of the Colorado Rapids. This means that just 5 of the 23 players on this roster are not from MLS: Tim Ream, Matt Miazga, Weston McKennie, Christian Pulisic, and Tyler Boyd.

Prior to the disastrous pair of friendlies against Jamaica and Venezuela, the consensus among the American soccer media was that just getting to the Gold Cup Final would be considered a successful tournament for Gregg Berhalter. However, the losses (and the manner in which the team lost) seems to have moved the goalposts a little bit, and for good reason. The sentiment now is that Gregg Berhalter must win the Gold Cup. Failure should not be rewarded with more failure. Just because the US missed the World Cup does not make losing the Gold Cup to Mexico acceptable. But to be fair to Berhalter, in each of his post-game press conferences against Jamaica and Venezuela he said that losing was not a big deal as long as the players tried so if the coach is ok with not winning the Gold Cup, then the fans should be too.

Guyana is making their debut in the Gold Cup. They qualified after finishing 7th place in the CONCACAF Nations League. Their form coming into this game is kind of a mixed bag. Since last September, they’ve played just six games and are 2-3-1 (W-L-D) in that stretch: wins against Turks & Caicos, and Belize; losses against French Guiana, Bermuda, and Haiti; and a draw against Barbados. Their roster features two players who ply their trade in the US: Jordan Dover of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and Warren Creavalle of the Philadelphia Union (whose participation in this tournament may be in doubt with an injury). Somewhat hilariously, they feature a total of 13 players who are based at European clubs (remember the US has just 5 such players). The majority of them are based in lower divisions of England, with the exception of Terell Ondaan at Telstar in the Netherlands.

Notes:

1. The game at Allianz Field was announced as a sell out shortly after tickets went on sale.
2. The US has never lost a Gold Cup opener, though they did draw Panama 1-1 in their opener in 2017.
3. The US was drawn into Group D with Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, and Panama.

When and where to find the game on US TV and streaming

Tuesday, June 18, 2019
Allianz Field
St. Paul, Minnesota
10:00 pm ET
Live on FS1, UniMas, Univision Deportes Network, Sling Blue, PlayStation Vue, Hulu Live and fuboTV (free trial)

All-Time Series

First meeting

Current FIFA Ranking

USA: 30
Guyana: 177

Next Game

Gold Cup
Saturday, June 22, 2019
USA vs. Trinidad & Tobago
First Energy Stadium
Cleveland, Ohio
7:30pm ET
FS1, UniMas

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