Josh Sargent and Jordan Morris each notched a brace to lead the United States Men’s National Team past Cuba 4-0 at Truman Bodden Stadium in George Town, Cayman Islands. With the win, the USMNT finishes tied with Canada for the Concacaf Nations League Group A lead at the end of the round, but with a greater goal differential to capture the group.
The win also snapped an 11-match winless run (0-5-6) on foreign soil.
Gregg Berhalter made some changes from the team that took the field Friday in Orlando. Brad Guzan remained in goal, behind a back line of Daniel Lovitz, Aaron Long, Tim Ream, and DeAndre Yedlin. Jackson Yueill, Weston McKennie, and Cristian Roldan took the midfield, with Paul Arriola, Sargent, and Morris up top.
Time to finish the job! ⚽️— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) November 19, 2019
The #USMNT Starting XI to face in tonight’s @CNationsLeague group finale.
Lineup Notes: https://t.co/C7mu60bxnl pic.twitter.com/IRTrgfXSk5
It didn’t even take a minute for the USMNT to jump on top. Sargent bundled home a cross in front off Cuban goalkeeper Sandy Sanchez just 34 seconds into the match. It was his fourth international goal at the senior level and gave the Yanks the early advantage.
The USMNT get going early! ⏱— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) November 20, 2019
Josh Sargent bundles the ball over the line inside the first minute for the 1-0 lead. #CUBvUSA pic.twitter.com/TgcAJuT8Sn
Sargent nearly had a second goal in the fourth minute, getting onto a similar cross in front but this time his shot was blocked right in front of goal by defender Dario Ramos.
The game was a bit sloppy, as the undersized field was a bit of a mess. Players were slipping and the ball got bogged down in the thick turf. But the U.S. held most of the possession in the attacking half. The USMNT got a few crosses into the area but had them blocked by the Cuban defense, that sagged back into its own area. A few promising attacks were also wiped out by hilariously bad offside decisions by the assistant referees at both ends.
Cuba nearly equalized on accident in the 19th minute. A shot from outside the area looked to be so bad it was headed out for a throw in but it deflected off of McKennie and forced Guzan to scramble over and make a diving save.
A minute later Sargent had a shot off a Morris cross blocked behind for a corner. Aaron Long nearly scored on the set piece but his shot was cleared off the line by a defender. Arriola then fired wide on the ensuing scramble.
Morris doubled the lead in the 26th minute, getting in behind off a long ball by Yueill that was flicked on by McKennie, then calmly slotting into the far corner past Sanchez to make it 2-0.
Jordan Morris doubles the lead!— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) November 20, 2019
He's now got 4 goals and 4 assists in his last 5 USMNT games. pic.twitter.com/YjrmJdoecr
The U.S. kept the pressure on and got a third in the 39th minute. Off a set piece, there was a scramble in front of Sanchez’s goal. Long tried to cross in through traffic but the ball deflected back to him. He then sent a chip shot that took a slight deflection and probably would have gone in on its own at the back post but Morris ran onto it and scored from inches in front of the line to make it 3-0 with his second of the night.
⚽️@A_Lolo12 with the chip for @JMorris13 who makes sure on the door step. #CUBvUSA pic.twitter.com/Iti2Y37M7I— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) November 20, 2019
Aside from a few half chances, that was it for the half. The USMNT went into the break up 3-0.
Tyler Boyd replaced Morris at the half but the teams began the second period a bit flat and sloppy. Neither team fashioned a decent scoring chance in the first 20 minutes. The U.S. didn’t have push due to the big halftime lead and as a result the game sort of screeched to a halt. The best opportunity was a moon shot way off frame by McKennie on the volley off a cross from Arriola five minutes after the restart.
What had been a dull and plodding second half suddenly came to life in one instant as second-half sub Reggie Cannon sent in a back-post cross that Boyd flicked back to Sargent, who completed his brace. The USMNT lead grew to 4-0 in the 66th minute. It was Boyd’s first USMNT assist.
⚽️— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) November 20, 2019
Nice back heel from @Tyler__Boyd to set up @JoshSargent in the 66th minute of #CUBvUSA. pic.twitter.com/4aPwWEeO2L
Alfredo Morales came on for McKennie in the 69th minute and nearly scored seconds later on his first touch of the game. A set piece cross was flicked by Sargent to Morales at the back post. Morales blasted it first time but Sanchez made a great reaction save to keep it at 4-0.
Cuba’s best opportunities of the night came late, when it appeared the U.S. was just trying to see the game out. In the 80th minute, Aricheell Hernandez got the ball in the area but fired wide to the left. The Cubans came close again in the 83rd when Boyd conceded a free kick from distance. The cross into the box found defender Erick Rizo who got his head to it but Guzan got over to make a diving save.
Morales then got denied by Sanchez again at the other end two minutes later when his header toward the far post was snared by Sanchez.
The USMNT was able to control play for the rest of normal time and see out the match for the win.
That’s a wrap for the USMNT for 2019. The Nations League resumes with the semifinals in June of 2020 and the U.S. will face Honduras then.