USMNT Narrowly Beats Martinique

Written by Jeff Carlisle at ESPNFC.com

Given the B-list nature of the U.S. roster, this Gold Cup was bound to possess some good, some bad and some downright ugliness for the Americans. But Wednesday’s 3-2 win over Martinique came dangerously close to humiliation.

It took a 76th-minute winner from Jordan Morris, his second goal of the night, to finally see off a game opponent. As such, the victory should provide little comfort to manager Bruce Arena and his players, who will be left red-faced from a match that should never have been so close.

Yes, soccer’s low-scoring nature makes it ripe for upsets, and the potential for giant-killings is part of its appeal. Further, it can also make the expectation of a blowout a tad unrealistic.

None of that can be used as an excuse for this U.S. performance. We’re talking about a team of full-time professionals going up against a group of semi-pros.

Does Martinique deserve some credit? Absolutely. It played with spirit and organization. But the Americans had the game seemingly under control, taking a 2-0 lead in the 64th minute when Morris scored his first. At which point, Arena’s side showed a complete inability to manage the game.

For whatever reason, maintaining tempo — especially when leading — has been a problem from the Ghana friendly on July 1 to Panama on Saturday all the way to Wednesday.

Granted, goalkeeper Brad Guzan should have saved the first of Kevin Parsemain’s two goals, but there were warning signs even before that, with Martinique hitting the post in the first half. And how is it that the U.S. coughs up an equalizer that started with a three-on-three counter-attack?

Sure, the U.S. roster is lacking some experience at international level, but it also has logged plenty of domestic matches. Arena’s understandable squad rotation — there were eight changes from the Panama game — could also be a factor. However, regardless of who is on the field, the U.S. ought to know how to manage a result against such a lowly opponent.

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