Jozy Altidore made his first U.S. appearance since 2017 but it didn’t help. (Photo courtesy of MLS)
CINCINNATI, Ohio – Don’t ask, please don’t ask.
A little more than a week prior to the start of the Concacaf Gold Cup, the U.S. men’s national team was crushed by Venezuela, 3-0, on three first-half goals before 23,955 spectators at Nippert Stadium Sunday.
The U.S. began with some promising attacking play early on and almost took the lead in the seventh minute when Weston McKennie’s glancing header was saved by goalkeeper Wuilker Fariñez at the right post.
Venezuela grabbed the lead nine minutes later. Jhon Murillo pounced on goalkeeper Zack Steffen’s misplayed pass out of the back, leading to Salmon Rondón putting La Vinotinto ahead 1-0 in the 16th minute.
On the half-hour mark, Jefferson Savarino converted his own rebound to give Venezuela a 2-0 lead.
The Americans nearly cut the score in half in the 34th minute when Nick Lima’s cross from the right was turned into the path of McKennie, whose first-time effort was again denied by Fariñez with a diving stop at the right post.
Venezuela earned a third goal when Rondón latched onto a cutting ball over the top before beating a screened Steffen from close range in the 36th minute.
At halftime, USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter inserted veteran forward Jozy Altidore and center back Walker Zimmerman. Earning his 111th cap, Altidore’s entry marked his first appearance since 2017 and helped spark a bit more in the attack.
Altidore combined well with Cristian Roldan, only just missing out on the final connecting pass that would have put the Seattle Sounders FC midfielder in alone on goal.
Paul Arriola forced a turnover in the attacking third and played to Altidore, who again found Roldan. He laid it off for substitute Jordan Morris on the right. Morris cut inside and fired a blistering effort that went just past the left post in the 67th minute.
A minute later, Lima broke free down the right and crossed to the six-yard box. Duane Holmes, another substitute, whiffed on his effort and the ball fell to Arriola at the back post, but he put his first-time chance over the bar.
In the 80th minute, Roldan’s cross from the right found Arriola streaking through the box, but the winger’s first-time effort was once again, frustratingly kept out by Fariñez.
The USMNT opens the Concacaf Gold Cup against Guyana Tuesday, June 18 at Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minn.