Cuba vs. USA preview: USMNT fans need to believe

Friday’s game against Canada ended up being a 4-1 win for the US in front of a sparse crowd at Exploria Stadium in Orlando. While it was certainly welcoming to get back in the win column and be in good shape to advance to the next round of the Nations League (barring disaster in the Caribbean, which as we’ve seen before is no sure thing), it really doesn’t change much of anything. Despite most of the recaps and takes after the game trumpeting the US’ return to regional dominance and proclamations of everything being alright again the reality is that the US beat a team they were supposed to beat. The narrative around this team has not changed and the lack of belief from the fan base certainly hasn’t changed. And Tuesday’s game against Cuba certainly won’t either (it didn’t last month).

While many of the pundits and journalists were waxing poetic about the win against Canada, most fans were not. Not to say that the fans are mad about the win (winning is always a good thing) but it left many wondering why that fight and emotion and effort were nowhere to be found in Toronto back in October. Even Gregg Berhalter said several things after the game that indicated that this game changed little such as the US is not where it needs to be, that the team hasn’t done anything yet and there’s a lot to work on. All of that is certainly true and while it is certainly a breath of fresh air to hear Berhalter say it, the facts remain the same. It’s going to take a long time before anybody believes in this team again. It may take an entire cycle. Because as nice as the 4-1 win was, many of the key figures in the game were players that US fans have been begging not to be included anymore, Gyasi Zardes chief among them. But when they needed to win, they won and that was the best case scenario.

There’s really not too much to say about Cuba. Quite frankly, they’re awful. That may sound a bit harsh, but it’s the reality of the situation. They’ve won just once in 2019 (against Nicaragua) and have scored just one goal in 2019 (also against Nicaragua). They have also been giving up goals like they’re going out of style, shipping seven to each the US, Mexico, and Canada (with another 6-0 loss to Les Rouges to boot). The roster features just one player playing outside the Caribbean: Luis Paradela of Reno 1868 FC in the USL. He does have five goals in six caps for Cuba, but scoring against the US is typically a difficult task for the Cubans.

Notes:

1. Due to the main stadium in communist Cuba being deemed unsuitable for international matches by FIFA, Cuba is playing its home games in the Cayman Islands.

2. This is the second time during the current cycle that the US has played a friendly at a neutral venue with the first coming last year against Italy in Belgium.

3. Following Friday’s game against Canada, Gyasi Zardes and Weston McKennie are tied with six goals apiece during the current cycle.

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

Tuesday, November 19, 2019
Truman Bodden Sports Complex
Georgetown, Cayman Islands
7:30pm ET
Live on FS1, UniMas, TUDN, Sling Blue, Hulu Live, AT&T TV Now and fuboTV (free trial)

 

All-Time Series

USA leads 11-1-1

 

Last Meeting

Friday, October 11, 2019
Audi Field
Washington DC
USA 7-0 Cuba

 

Current FIFA Ranking

USA: 23
Cuba: 179

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