ORLANDO — Though oft criticized, Gyasi Zardes has delivered in big moments for the US men’s national team under the direction of coach Gregg Berhalter.

The USMNT’s leading scorer with six goals this calendar year, Zardes has the trust of his former Columbus Crew SC coach in Berhalter.

Zardes has started in 10 of the USMNT’s 17 matches in 2019, featuring in all but two of them. His speed, holdup play and strength to win duels against defenders is a big reason why Zardes earned the start in a pivotal Concacaf Nations League showdown against Canada Friday night.

And while Zardes isn’t the most consistent or most polished scorer, he’s helped the USMNT get results this year, including a brace in the 4-1 victory at Exploria Stadium.

Previous to his breakout 2019, Zardes had only scored four goals for the USMNT, but under Berhalter, that number has more than doubled.

It appears the bond and trust between the striker and the coach who signed him after his first five seasons with the LA Galaxy has carried over to the international stage.

After helping the USMNT earn a measure of revenge against Canada, Zardes didn’t speak much about his own accomplishment, but rather lauded the coaching staff for putting him in a position to succeed. 

“Our coaching staff, they sacrifice a lot of time analyzing our opponent's previous games. … They set the standard in training sessions,” Zardes said. “We know the job is not done. And now we're going to start focusing on Cuba, you know, because the Cayman Islands is going to be a difficult environment where away from home, but it's a great challenge and a great opportunity for us to get the job done.”

Zardes will have one more chance to tack onto his team-leading 2019 goals total when the USMNT meet Cuba Tuesday (7:30 pm ET | FS1, UniMás, TUDN) with an opportunity to top Group A and reach the Nations League semifinals.