KANSAS CITY, Kan. – With a lot of questions about the US national team swirling coming into the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup, their run through Group D has answered a lot of those questions.
The USMNT racked up a perfect nine points, scored 11 goals, and conceded none en route to winning Group D, and did so with an entirely rotated squad in their final match, against their toughest opponent in the group.
“I’m sure the other teams in this tournament are aware of how we won the group, and we’re worried about ourselves,” said Omar Gonzalez, who captained the USMNT to their 1-0 win over Panama on Wednesday night.
“We’re worried about the way that we’re attacking this tournament. People are in our way and we’re going to get through them to win this tournament.”
While not all concerns are answered, it’s still a strong message to send, especially in winning the group in the fashion that they did.
“Yeah you always want to be hard to play against, number one,” said midfielder Cristian Roldan. “Not conceding a goal says a lot. Also, using 22 guys, that’s pretty incredible. In a tournament like this it helps us rest some players for the quarterfinals. Panama is a good team, they’re very strong, physical, and they defend extremely well. So in the way we did it, not conceding a goal, using 22 guys, it’s very ideal.”
Matt Miazga echoed the sentiment, and felt that not only scoring a lot of goals, but getting three clean sheets elevates the message sent about what this group can do.
“Obviously you saw a lot of changes today, against a harder opponent, and we got the result," he said. "We had clean sheets in all three games which is important for the team defensively to be solid, and we scored a lot of goals. So now we have to keep this momentum against Curaçao.”
Head coach Gregg Berhalter, of course, was happy after Wednesday’s win. He stated multiple times that just qualifying for the knockout stage wasn’t good enough, that they needed to win the group. Considering the concerns surrounding the USMNT, having lost their two tune-up friendlies ahead of the tournament, he was happy with the fashion in which they ended up winning the group, especially that the message was sent with their on-field performance.
“We try to do our speaking with what we do on the field,” Berhalter said. “And I think that’s the most important thing. Again, the guys are determined and one of our objectives was to win the group, have the best goal difference in the group and we managed to do that. I’m proud of the guys, but we know we have more soccer to play in this tournament.”