The United States men's national team had to survive a scare or two from Trinidad and Tobago on Saturday night in the second half, but eventually turned the Gold Cup contest into a laugher, winning 6-0. Two goals from Aaron Long and Gyasi Zardes were complimented by strikes from Christian Pulisic and Paul Arriola, at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. The win set up a showdown on Wednesday with Panama, to determine who will win Group D. A win or draw for the USA will ensure the top position in the group.
Fielding the same starting 11 from Tuesday's win over Guyana, Gregg Berhalter's side had a tough going in the first half. Long, the center back from the New York Red Bulls, headed the US into the lead 41st minute, finishing off a cross from Pulisic after the US retained possession from a free kick.
But otherwise, Trinidad and Tobago, who famously beat the US in 2017 to deny the USMNT a spot at the 2018 World Cup, stymied Berhalter's side for much of the first half. And then early on in the second half, the Soca Warriors came close on several occasions to finding an equalizer. First it was Levi García firing into the side netting on a break in the 61st minute, before Kevin Molino forced a save out of Zack Steffen in the 63rd.
That sequence seemed to jolt the US to life though, and after Marvin Phillip made a remarkable save on Arriola to keep T&T within a goal, Zardes scored his first goal of the night in the 66th minute. Michael Bradley dropped a perfect pass into the box for right back Nick Lima, who headed the ball into the middle of the box, where Zardes made no mistake from two yards out.
Zardes' second goal, in the 69th minute, required a bit more technique, after Pulisic weaved through the defense to drop the ball off for the striker in the box. Afforded time and space, Zardes curled a shot to the far post that Phillip could only get a touch to.
The Columbus Crew striker had two opportunities to complete his hat trick, and looked to be an option for substitute Jordan Morris when the winger got into the box in the 73rd minute. Instead, the Seattle Sounders homegrown passed to Pulisic, who slotted home his goal, a just reward for the US playmaker.
Berhalter had the luxury of bringing in Jozy Altidore shortly after, and the striker played a nifty flick to Morris in the 78th minute. That allowed Morris to slide the ball into the middle of the box, with Arriola on the spot to finish off his second goal of the competition.
In the 90th minute, a blocked shot fell to Long, who shouldered the ball into the goal for his second goal of the night, wrapping up a enthralling second half for the tournament hosts.
The US wraps up group play on Wednesday night against Panama, in a game that will take place at Children's Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.