The U.S. men’s national team didn’t put in the best overall shift in Sunday’s 1-0 group stage finale win over Canada at the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup, but left back Sam Vines was one of few who did impress in the result in Kansas City. With another cap under his belt this tournament, Vines is hoping to keep taking positive steps forward as Gregg Berhalter’s side aims to advance further in the competition.
Vines has featured in two of the USMNT’s three matches to date, showing off his abilities in both the final third and on the back end. The Colorado Rapids Homegrown left back delivered a solid overall performance against Canada and now is preparing to do more of the same against Jamaica in July 25th’s quarterfinal showdown.
“We’re just going to take it game by game, we’re not focusing on the semifinals or finals right now, we’re just going to focus on Jamaica,” Vines said in a conference call Wednesday with reporters. “We’ve been training hard the last few days but that will ease up over the next few days as we start getting into our game plan for the weekend.
“I’m just doing anything I can to help my team,” Vines said. “Obviously we’ve gotten pretty good results along the way. We won our group and won all three games we’ve played so far so that’s good for that to happen.”
The 22-year-old Vines has developed into one of the top targets within MLS, reportedly garnering interest from Belgium side Royal Antwerp ahead of the new European season. Vines has totaled 54 combined league appearances with the Rapids since debuting in 2018 and has now featured in five matches for the USMNT during Berhalter’s time as head coach.
Not only has Vines earned opportunities in the Gold Cup, but he is showing off what has made him a rising talent in MLS. Vines has delivered strong moments in the final third when the USMNT attacks, taking on opposing right backs and pushing himself into dangerous spots on the field to deliver passes and crosses into the box.
Defensively, Vines has done what he’s been asked to do and that’s help keep the opposing team off the scoreboard. Now he hopes to deliver another strong performance against a Jamaican side that the American have defeated in four of their last five head-to-head competitive meetings.
“We’ve been playing in a 3-5-2 or 5-3-2, whatever you wanna call, it and we like to cover as much of the field as possible and I think those formations help the backline cover a lot of width,” Vines said. “We’re just trying to join the attack as much as possible, obviously Shaq and I like to go forward, but overall we just have to do what’s best for the team.
“We know Jamaica has fast forwards and dangerous guys around the box, but we just have to focus on what we do best,” Vines said. “Defensively, we’ve been strong throughout the tournament so far with only one goal conceded, so we have a lot of things going well for us. We’re going to have to make it difficult for them.”
Vines scored the winning goal in the USMNT’s 1-0 victory over Haiti in its first group stage match and helped spring the attack ahead of Shaq Moore’s early game-winner against Canada on July 18. While the USMNT may find it much tougher to score in the opening minute against Jamaica, Vines believes the team’s collective unity is key in Sunday’s knockout stage match.
“Our collective group effort has been good throughout the tournament, obviously against Canada we scored in the opening 30 seconds,” Vines said. “We need to do more of the same against Jamaica. We need to come out strong, hard, and as a team and if we do that then we should be able to come out with a win.”