In their last tune-up before the Gold Cup, the U.S. men's national team gave fans even more cause for concern, as Venezuela waltzed to a 3-0 victory at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. Several days after an eye-opening loss to Jamaica, a torrid first half saw the Stars and Stripes down 3-0 at the half, giving Gregg Berhalter his second loss as USA manager.
Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams, and Michael Bradley were not part of the squad against the Vinotinto, who were coming off a 3-1 loss to Mexico during the week. Jozy Altidore was on the bench but came on to start the second half, giving Berhalter a chance to see his top striker in action before the start of the Gold Cup.
The U.S. started well and looked dangerous on several set pieces early on. Those set pieces came via Tyler Boyd, making his U.S. debut, after being granted a one-time switch from New Zealand back in May. However, that start was quickly overshadowed by a poor play out of the back from Zack Steffen.
Steffen, who got away with an error against Jamaica, played a dangerous pass in the 16th minute that led to Newcastle United striker Salomón Rondón opening the scoring. Not a shining moment from Steffen, who is headed to Manchester City later this summer.
His counterpart, Wuilker Faríñez, made a couple of good saves against Weston McKennie, showing how much difference every little play a keeper makes during the course of a game.
In the 30th minute, Real Salt Lake man Jefferson Savarino made it two for the Vinotinto. Savarino's first shot, which came shortly after a throw-in, smacked off the upright, after bending around Steffen. Savarino was quick to react, though, and stuck the rebound past Steffen.
Six minutes later, Rondón added his second of the game, taking advantage of a quick breakout from Venezuela's own end. Isolated against Aaron Long in the box, Rondón smashed a shot between the defender's legs that left no chance for Steffen to make a save, giving Venezuela a commanding three-goal advantage within 36 minutes.
In the second half, the U.S. looked a bit more composed, but that was mostly down to the urgency of Venezuela receding after the first half performance. There were a couple of chances for the USA to grab a goal or two, but it was just not the U.S.' day.
Cristian Roldan and Jordan Morris managed to get in each other's way from a header by Altidore, and Paul Arriola couldn't guide a half volley on target at the back post from a good cross by Nick Lima. Arriola did manage to get a stoppage-time volley on target, but Faríñez made another excellent save, denying Arriola a consolation goal.
The U.S. will have to try to regroup over the next nine days, before they open up their Gold Cup by facing off against Guyana on June 18 at Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minnesota.