Top Stories

USMNT hang on for quarterfinal win over Curacao

PHILADELPHIA — It wasn’t pretty, but the U.S. Men’s National Team got the job done in the City of Brotherly Love.

Gregg Berhalter’s side booked a rematch with Jamaica in the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup after a slim 1-0 win over Curacao on Sunday night.

Weston McKennie scored his second-career international goal while Christian Pulisic registered his third assist of the tournament in the USMNT’s fourth-consecutive win since losing a pair of June friendlies.

Pulisic had a great effort to break the deadlock in the second-minute, but was denied by a fingertip save from Eloy Room.

The USMNT continued to own possession throughout the first-half, but continued to wait for a breakthrough. Pulisic missed an effort wide, while Curacao bunkered down and tried to defend their way to halftime.

Pulisic used his creative ability though in the 25th-minute to break the deadlock. After a couple of stepovers, the midfielder crossed a ball towards the back post allowing McKennie to head home his first goal of the tournament.

Curacao’s best first-half effort came in the 41st-minute as defender Darryl Lachman headed just over the crossbar on a corner-kick. Leandro Bacuna’s dangerous run won the corner, but the centerback could not put away a golden chance at an equalizer.

Pulisic created room for a shot in the 56th-minute, but it missed just wide of the left post.

Curacao’s Leandro Bacuna forced Zack Steffen into his best save of the night, punching over the midfielder’s shot in the 84th-minute which look destined for the top-left corner.

Steffen made three saves in total on the night to preserve his third clean sheet of the tournament.

The USMNT will face Jamaica on Wednesday in Nashville with the winner advancing to July 7th’s final against either Mexico/Haiti. It will be a rematch of the two sides who met earlier this month in friendly play at Audi Field, which the U.S. lost 1-0 to the Reggae Boyz.


  1. Lasting images from this game are the repeated backpassing by the USMNT and then a quick cut to Walker Zimmerman dribbling up field, connecting with a 25-yard pass and then the ball coming back to him in under five passes and repeating the process, and Eloy Room standing there with the ball.

    • This was always going to be a much tougher game than many people thought. You have to go back before 2015 to find anyone who scored more than 2 goals against Curacao. That includes matches with Mexico, Bolivia(twice) El Salvadore(4 times) and Jamaica(3 times) and winning the 2017 Caribbean cup over Jamaica.

      Bradley was always going to be challenged by having to cover Bacuna and was bailed out on the one good shot he let him get off by a great save by Stefan.The attention Bradley had to pay to Bacuna meant he was distracted from his usual role of being the open player for the US to relieve pressure, so the US defenders basically had no simple options when they won the ball and Curacao simply reset. It was close to folly to expect Bradley to keep up with Bacuna the entire match and it was even more foolish to not use another player or 2 to provide the safe passing options. Boyd, McKennie, and Arriola should have at least attempted to share that responsibility, but they did not.

      Bradley’s age and the lack of the soccer brain exhibited by the remaining midfielders (or GB’s game plan?) combined to ensure that Curacao would dominate the midfield when they moved players to fill the space.

  2. Off topic but I’m noticing an interesting trend happening with some of the Carribean nations in recent years/cycles. Its not new by any means but seems to be broader than it used to be though.

    I’m noticing that they are embracing their diaspora populations abroad mainly from Europe playing in lower European divisions but some from the US too. Curacao, Jamaica, and Haiti are calling up a lot of players from their diasporas playing in lower division Euro leagues. Martinique has done this in the past too.Trinidad’s been doing this for years though but only higher division players it seemed.

    Anyway I think its a interesting trend given what we saw from Haiti beating CR to win their group then Canada in quarters and seeing Jamaica and Curacao come out of their group over the likes of Honduras and El Salvador. Perhaps a balance of power shift is happen at the bottom of Concacaf away from Central American nations and we are beginning to see the Caribbean nations assert themselves. Early round qualifiers could be very different than the usual suspects that make it thru to the Hex.

    • The expanded GC and the new nations league have given these teams things to play for. In the past they’d get maybe a home and home against another Caribbean country and then be out and maybe a group for Carribean Cup, so they’d play 4-6 matches every 4 years. It was a hard sell and sometimes those CC cup qualifiers were not in windows. It will be interesting to see how Curaçao does in their NL group of Costs Rica and Haiti.

      • It will be interesting to see if this performance from Haiti and Curacao extends to early round WCQ. Haven’t check but Curacao would have to go thru a lot of prelims and their FA might not have the money to fly over all their players each time same applies to NL. As for Haiti there is no reason given their current form they couldn’t make the Hex this cycle. Honduras and El Salvador getting bounced is telling but same money issues probably exist within their FA too.

      • I said this in a previous game thread, but the Nations League and expanded Gold Cup are gonna be a huge boon to the Caribbean countries and I fully expect to see more Caribbean than CA nations in the Hex (or whatever CONCACAF does with WC qualifying…I don’t know how many people realize nothing’s been announced for THIS cycle yet) going forward.
        I read a Guardian (?) article on Guyana and how it talked to several ex-pat players who came on board now that there was something worth playing for. Burnley’s Nahki Wells was first-capped for Bermuda in 2007, but only has 15 caps at the moment with most coming in the last two years, no coincidence after the Nations League was created. Neil Danns with Guyana is another example.

      • It will be interesting to see how these European players do visiting those Central American stadiums with Concacaf refs. With the GC you get the best because there is two games a day, when there’s 10 games going a day in NL and WCQ it will be an adjustment.

  3. There is no core to the team, and no speed. Pulisic has that change of pace to worry defenses – so do Weah and Sargent, but this Gold Cup team is very slow overall. I would have included Acosta in CM because he is quicker and stronger than Bradley is. Someone also mentioned Morales, who never seems to get a look. You need a physical presence i.e. Jermaine Jones. Yes, you lose the vision Bradley brings, but as many have noticed, Bradley is really slow now. We also desperately need faster outside defenders, but that’s not a revelation either. Hopefully other players progress and get to replace Zardes, Arriola, Bradley, Ream.
    I hope Pulisic keeps winning games for us, though, because Chelsea might need him to do the same, and that’s exciting.

    • Acosta has been really bad for the last 18 months or so. I don’t really know what happened to him but he is not the same player.

  4. The center of the field was a major problem for the US. With both Pulisic and McKennie drifting wide, Bradley was asked to cover far too much ground, too much for any one player. I think that’s why we couldn’t pass out of the back and why they moved through the center so easily once they got through whatever it was we tried to do as a press.

  5. I just don’t understand why we gave them so much room to do what ever they wanted in the second half. Sure it was a bend don’t break, but we didn’t press once in the second half. Curacao did though, and we looked like crap dealing with it. At the game it felt like they were bunkering for their life as if it was Mexico or Brazil we were playing. Waaaay too much respect given against them. Frustrating.

      • Old man on stilz, but he ia still much better than trapp. When is the last time bradley made a txkle and when ia the last time he won one. Having said that, he is prob still best option because he reads the field better than trapp and positions better, IMO.

  6. Maybe this is all part of a clever strategy. Monday in the Jamaica film room, their team is watching video of the US vs. Curacao game.The Jamaica coach is trying to get his players to be serious. The Coach says, “Guys, stop laughing. The US isn’t really that bad. Sometimes they can play good football. You really need to take them seriously. Listen to me, stop the joking, this is a knockout game and you should take any opponent seriously. Guys, come on guys, focus.” The game begins and the US promptly kicks the ball backwards and kicks it out of bounds. On the throw in a US player whiffs on the ball and falls down. Jamaica can’t help themselves. Pretty soon they start laughing, allowing a long pass to a streaking Pulisic who scores and the US goes on to win. Hey, it could happen.

  7. It was a turd, and unlike most games when you play like that we still won. The boys got lots of examples of what doesn’t work to study before Wednesday. Have to be better and I think they recognize that.

    • So did you watch the previous 70 mins?

      (per your post about watching only 20 mins in the other article).

      Not disagreeing about a crap game but..

      • Haven’t yet, not sure I can stomach it. Not sure what was going on, I think Weston was trying to avoid a yellow but why we didn’t make adjustments to break pressure? We’ve seen these same players drop McKennie deeper against Trinidad, or the inverted RB earlier in the year but last night nothing to bring an extra midfielder. It looked in the last 20 like energy conservation was the priority.

  8. I thought Bradley was defending a good player who demanded almost all his attention. so he was not available for passes to relieve pressure as promptly as he usually is. That forced the defenders to look for another option and there wasn’t one. So they mostly just knocked the ball away allowing Curacao to reset, or worse, tried a difficult pass that gave the ball away in a bad position.

    The US must have more players showing for the ball as soon as it is won or better teams will continue to best them.

  9. At first I was thinking we really needed a sub in the last ten minutes. Then I thought about who I’d sub and I couldn’t think of one guy on the bench I was more comfortable with. No Holmes, Adams, even Lletget would have helped.

    • Jozy, the answer was Jozy. But yeah there is no midfiled replacements on this team. Djordjie not ready, Roldan mediocre, Trapp a worse version of OLD Bradley. Lets hope that us u20 team produces good pros

    • JR I was thinking the same thing, looking at Weston who wasn’t too sharp, and looked like he was playing to avoid a Yellow card, and when I thought about a bench player that thought left me real quick like.
      Does Jermaine Jones have any eligibility left???

      • The answer is Tyler Adams when he becomes available. Also, you wonder if some of our European players like Hyndman, FJ, even Morales or Danny Williams would be better than our MLS options.

    • Gary Page, Hyndman or Williams?
      When is the last time either played first team soccer?

      Williams dropped off the face of the soccer planet this year and Hyndman is lost in the youth team/full team purgatory.

      I dont feel like looking up Morales but i dont recall him seeing the field much this year at all.

      These replacement mentions of yours are from like 2-3 years ago.

      We looked bad. Incredibly predictable. A little press and we crumbled. Biggest crime was a) Zardes starting and b) Zardes going 90. Dude disappears for half hour stretches! Not having a target man consistently be available for an outlet severly hurts our chances. Jozy needs to play. Unacceptable decision to at least not sub him on.

      • Morales was playing regularly until the last month of the season. I never saw any of his games but it is hard to imagine he coyld do better; i remember him being a goos tackler of which there appears to be 0 on the current roster in the midfield. I think he got hurt amd was probably extremely unlikely to accept a call up for what is pretymuxh a crappy tournament.

      • Tele it was the last three months of the season only 133 minutes in the last 11 matches (Mar.-May). No official injuries listed on transfermkt but that doesn’t mean there weren’t little issues.

      • Morales played a total of over 1500 minutes in the Bundesliga last season and 188 minutes of DFB Pokal according to TransferMkt. Yes he played fewer minutest the last couple months for unknown reasons, but is that a reason to completely ignore a players who accumulated 1500′ in a top 5 league last season?

        At a bare minimum he could be on the 40 man provisional and got a chance to work out in camp or make our bench. If ya’ll are telling me our player pool is soooo incredibly deep we can ignore CMs getting 1500′ seasons in the Bundesliga we must be Brazil or Argentina deep. Of course that is not the case.Same goes for FJ on this one to and he has said thru media he is open to call ups again so we can put that to bed.

        This is a pet peeve of mine with the USMNT we constantly are undermining a player’s accomplishments if they play overseas but laud the smallest things a domestic player does in MLS. Cases in point, Ricardo Clark over Maurice Edu, Robbie Findley over Eddie Johnson, Sacha Klejstan couldn’t get a call while he was getting UCL minutes for Anderlecht under JK era, we waste our talent over and over again and then complain the player pool is thin and we have a lost generation. I don’t believe it one bit. Either our roster management is terrible or how we rate players is terrible. Thinking a guy is undeserving because he only played 180′ of the last two months of the season after getting 1300+’ earlier in the season is ridiculous. Saying a player with those accomplishments doesn’t fit somewhere on our roster because he doesn’t fit our system or style is just as ridiculous, even if he’s a backup he should be here unless he declines the call. Morales and FJ should be on this roster somewhere even if its just the 40 provisional or backups.

      • Joe: FJ is interesting he was the starting RB for much of the 2nd half of the season. However he also hardly played the last month of the season. So is there an injury, fatigue, or just the club testing younger players after table positions are secured? It’s hard to tell. At age 31 perhaps FJ passed on the GC but is open to week long international window duty? He certainly could have helped even as a sub last night?
        Morales never stood out in his appearances for the US and again would he be interested in a Summer tournament? Playing the GC would have essentially taken his entire offseason. At 29 is that too much to ask, especially when his club situation seems precarious. We as fans jump to conclusions when a player isn’t called when we aren’t privy to all the facts. Even in the Summer window there are club considerations that are made even if you don’t technically have two. Most German clubs have already begun training camps with some already in matches.

  10. ZZZZZ, oops, dozed off there. Is the game over? I must admit that I had to miss the first half and recorded it. Is it worth watching? If it’s anything like the second half, then it isn’t. One thing is that the US players shouldn’t b e tired at all. In the second half they stood around a lot and occasionally jogged. I thought it was interesting that every time we had a free kick in the second half we went backward. Is that a new rule now? Why is it that a team like Curacao had less trouble breaking a press than we did? Was this worse than the loss to Venezuela even though we won today? In many ways it seemed like it. So many questions and so few good answers.

    • You can watch up until the goal, then turn it off. They did play better, not great, but it was better than what you saw in the second half.

  11. USMNT
    ███████ ]▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄ ▂ ????

    Team Statistics
    3——-Shots on Target—-5
    458—–Total Passes 493
    85 %–Passing Accuracy-88 %
    47.6 %—Possession–52.4 %

    UNBELIEVABLE. A WIN THAT SEEMS LIKE A LOSS……What in heavens name did I just watch????? Curacao looking like THE SUPERIOR TEAM against the USMNT??? Wow

  12. From a point in time when we were once ranked #6 in the world and the team “walked with swagger” to barely hanging on to win against Curacao. You can’t make this up. Remember Project 2010 to win the World Cup by then? How far we have fallen.

    MLS needs to impose foreigner restrictions; e.g., 3 foreigners per team, to gave US players more opportunities instead of developing other CONCACAF players at the expense of the American player.

    • Let’s be honest we were never #6 in the world even if the rankings said we were. Even ever being a top ten team is a stretch.

    • You wrote, perhaps under the chirpy influence of gas,
      “MLS needs to impose foreigner restrictions; e.g., 3 foreigners per team, to [give] US players more opportunities instead of developing other CONCACAF players at the expense of the American player.”
      Ah. That would be the affirmative-action model, as opposed to the free-market competitive model. I too sometimes want to give the underdogs a helping hand, especially when they’re fighting generational poverty, crime, drugs, incarceration, or racism.
      But in this case I don’t think most US youth players are that disadvantaged. In fact, it could be that the new level of competition in MLS — indeed, some of it from players from the Caribbean and Central America, whose local clubs can’t provide this level of play and support, so why shouldn’t they come here? — is exactly what American players need if they’re going to learn how to become more professional at a younger age.
      Matías Almeyda made the point in an interview, before San José started winning, saying that in most soccer-playing countries, teenagers who are good at soccer focus on that first and university later if at all. Whereas here we do it in the other order. I don’t begrudge Jonathan Klinsmann or Jordan Morris, say, their years at Cal or Stanford, fine schools both. But it’s obviously a tradeoff, because by doing that, they explicitly missed four years of professional development at a key age. (And why Morris turned down the chance to try to play in Europe I will never understand, unless it was purely health-related.)
      Players now coming out of academies like FC Dallas or NYRB may eventually be reversing that trend. If they are better able to compete for places, either in MLS or abroad, more power to them. If more US youth players are able to meet professional standards earlier, that may be what will reinvigorate the USMNT, if anything can.
      Standing around, going backward rather than forward, and not running to get open are all problems that remind us of the bad old days of MLS. The MLS teams that have more speed and more offense now are breaking that pattern. I don’t know if Berhalter is the person to break the mold with the USMNT, but this game should provide enough evidence of what not to do.

      • With 3 foreigners per team restriction, the caliber of foreign players recruited would be higher than just what is easily available in CONCACAF. It would make MLS teams more prudent in their recruitment. e.g., South American/UEFA vs CONCACAF since they can only use 3 foreigners.

        The CONCACAF players are slighty better than some of our players but not that much that we need to waste a foreign player slot on them. What you see with the rise of CONCACAF players is the product of that.

      • So anyone that wants to come to the US to play (work), can just come in over the border as they please, and enforcing immigration law would be considered racist? US teams have to sponsor players for work permits, and by limiting it to 3 per team increases the quality of foreign players being recruited. Stop being short sighed and pulling the race card just because I suggested teams are limited to 3 foreign players.

  13. Watching that Mexico v CR match and the control, touch, quick passing and speed of play in that game then watching this match has me shitting my pants thinking about the Hex in two years. Spent the second half bunkered against the likes of Curaçao. Sure it’s the lost generation and a lack of talent. Do any of us still believe that garbage narrative we’ve been fed to explain our ongoing failure to compete? Curaçao? Jamaica? Venezuela? Feels like 2017.

    • Agree. I was wondering why everyone was standing around. There was so little movement when we had the ball. No runs to open up spaces for someone else, just a lot of ball watching. We had trouble breaking the press because there was no movement.

      When Curacao pressed, it was much more fluid and not just a token high press like ours. That’s what it looked like. Once that line was broken which wasn’t difficult, it was very easy for Curacao to make it to the penalty box.

  14. Damn that was tough to watch, but as a long tims US fan Ive seen worse and at least Curacao looked good in what they did (a large part of that might be due to us). Anyone catch Landons point on how they pressed with three and we built out of back with three and when we struggled we NEVER altered this situation! I mean that was freaking embarrassing they looked like Bayern Munich under Pep building from the back compared to us.
    The other big problem I had with this match other than the half effort everyone seemed to give to win the ball, was the use of subs. Is Jozy hurt? If he is why did we even bring him? The only thing I can guess is that hes in such bad shape that Berhalter didnt want to risk him having to play OT in this game, but again of were worried about him having to play 40-60 minutes than why the fuck is he here?

    • Good point – i caught Landons mention of that too. Made perfect sense.

      And yes, I hope it was a Jozy fitness issue. Bc if it wasnt, we are in trouble with that type of decision making.

      Curacao, credit to them for playing hard for their dream in this tourney. They played well. Maybe we see a push for qualification from them.

  15. What the heck. The team plays like crap in the second half and one substitution. Not sure I like GB as a coach

    J Zardes looked great against minnows but disappears against better competition. Rember before the Gold Cup virtually no scoring from Zardes
    He is two years younger than Jozy with 25 fewer goals despite the fact that Jozy hasn’t played since the World Cup disaster.

    I hope we see Jozy and Jordan Morris starting in the next game

  16. USMNT is regressing…Pulisic aside, this side is unwatchable…steeped in mediocrity, with no end in sight.

    At least Bradley keeps passing the ball backwards, the way he has been for the last 10 years…


Leave a Comment