Sam Vines scored the lone goal in the eighth minute. (Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports)
KANSAS CITY, Kansas – One goal was enough for the United States to defeat an undermanned Haiti team in its Concacaf Gold Cup opener Sunday night.
Whether it will be enough to overcome Canada in goal differential if the two countries are tied for the Group B lead is another story.
Sam Vines scored his first international goal and goalkeeper Matt Turner made all the important stops for his second shutout in as many matches as the Americans registered a 1-0 victory over the Haitians at Mercy Children’s Park.
In the first game of the doubleheader, Canada bested Martinique, 4-1. Goal differential will break all teams that are tied in points. The USA meets Canada in the third and final group match next Sunday here.
WATCH: Sam Vines' first international goal gives the #USMNT the early 1-0 lead! 🇺🇸
— U.S. Men's National Soccer Team (@USMNT) July 12, 2021
The USA might have held a sizable advantage in ball possession, but it was their transition game that lacked vitality in getting the ball down the field.
“We still need to go to another gear,” U.S. head coach Gregg Berhalter said. “You can see we were a little rusty. The movements weren’t as clean as they as they normally were, We didn’t create enough and we didn’t finish enough chances. So from that standpoint, there’s room to improve.”
He added later:
“I missed the urgency to score more goals and to be dangerous and to first pass forward and then aggressive. It was way too slow way too backwards, and not enough intent to to turn Haiti around and get them defending in the penalty box. We were disappointed with, with the intent that we showed tonight.”
Still, Berhalter said that he was willing to be patient. The USMNT’s next game against Martinique here Thursday night.
“It’s about being patient,” he said. “It’s about learning. It’s about gathering information on the players and the way we can play with this group, and then adapting, It’s going to be a great experience to have to do that. The important thing today is that we got the win. We got the three points and now we move to the next game.”
The Haitians were crippled by the fact that five players and assistant coach Jean-Claude Josaphat had tested positive for COVID-19 and could not participate in the match. Among the missing was a top attacking threat Frantzdy Pierrot, who had three goals in Haiti’s 4-1 win over Bermuda in the final Preliminary Round match Tuesday.
Also out were Jems Geffrard, Don Deedson Louicius, goalkeepers Isaac Raud and Josué Duverger.
“Ahead of the start of the Gold Cup Group Stage, all competing national teams went through several rounds of testing,” Concacaf said in a statement.
“In Covid-19 testing carried out last week, five Haiti players and one assistant coach returned a positive test result. All of the individuals were immediately isolated and CONCACAF has ensured that they and the Haitian Football Federation have been offered the necessary support.”
Vines headed in a Gyasi Zardes feed past goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre from seven yards for the lone goal of the match.
U.S. midfielder Paul Arriola was forced from the match in the 14th minute with tightness in his right hamstring. Nicholas Gioacchini replaced him.
New York City FC defender James Sands made his international debut in the 75th minute, coming on for Gioacchini.