Welcome to your match thread as the United States Men’s National team faces Curaçao in the 2019 Gold Cup quarterfinals. Tonight’s match, which will take place at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia (8:30 p.m., FS1, UniMas, UDN), marks the 14th time in 15 tries that the USMNT enters the knockout stage by having won its group.
The United States is 6-2-1 in 2019, and 3-0-0 in the Gold Cup, having yet to concede a goal in the competition while scoring 11 times. Gregg Berhalter was able to rotate out all 11 starters in the final group stage match against Panama and still got a result, with a narrow 1-0 win over Panama on Jozy Altidore’s 66th-minute bicycle kick goal, finishing atop Group D.
The USMNT has never met Curaçao as an independent FIFA side, but did go 2-0-2 in four meetings against the formerly unified Netherlands Antilles team between 1946 and 2010.
Curaçao, an island with a population of just over 160,000, has only been playing as an independent nation since 2011. The Dutch territory played from 1958-2010 as part of the Netherlands Antilles, which was made up of six islands until 1986, when Aruba seceded. Prior to that, it was part of the Territory of Curaçao team, which was also comprised of six islands. Now on its own as a recognized FIFA and Concacaf team, Curaçao has flourished and is in the knockout stages of the Gold Cup for the first time in just two attempts (2017).
In its first Gold Cup in 2017, Curaçao went 0-3-0 and did not score a goal, but only conceded six, losing all three matches by 2-0 scores to Jamaica, El Salvador, and Mexico. This time around, Curaçao finished second in Group C to qualify for the knockout stages in dramatic fashion. Juriën Gaari’s screamer in the 93rd minute of Curaçao’s third and final group stage game against Jamaica drew his country level at 1-1 and put pressure on El Salvador to get a result against Honduras in the late game. Honduras beat the El Salvadorans 4-0, pushing Curaçao through on goal differential with both countries finishing 1-1-1 in the group. Curaçao opened the tournament with a 1-0 loss to El Salvador but beat Honduras by that same score line prior to drawing Jamaica, 1-1.
The team qualified for the Gold Cup by finishing fourth in Concacaf Nations League qualifying, behind Haiti, Canada, and Martinique, going 3-1-0. Curaçao beat Grenada 10-0 on the first match day, then beat the U.S. Virgin Islands (5-0) and Guadeloupe (6-0), before losing 2-1 to Antigua & Barbuda.
Curaçao is led by Cardiff City midfielder Leandro Bacuna, who has 11 international goals for his country. He’s made 11 appearances with the Bluebirds in the Championship, England’s second tier (although, yes, the club plays in Wales). The 27-year-old has played his club football in England for seven years, scoring four goals in 60 matches with Reading and seven goals in 117 matches with Aston Villa. Bacuna scored Curaçao’s winning goal against Honduras in the 40th minute on June 21.
Only a few players on Curaçao’s roster play club football at home. Most of the squad plays in Holland or sprinkled elsewhere around the world. The team’s only U.S.-based player is Michael Maria, who plays with the Charlotte Independence in the USL Championship.
The United States will have to be patient against Curaçao, which has conceded only twice in the tournament, and be clinical when it gets opportunities in front of goal. The USMNT will also have to watch for Curaçao to get out on the counter. In the Jamaica game, Curaçao did well to work the ball around the edges of the box when it got forward, so Berhalter’s fullbacks and midfielders will need to be alert, pressure the ball, win secondary balls, and not give Curaçao time to line up crosses or long shots on target.
Look for the U.S. to try to continue creating chances through Christian Pulisic, Paul Arriola, and Tyler Boyd — working their way up the field, particularly on the wings, and looking for Gyasi Zardes to provide hold-up play outside the area and to finish in front of goal.
The winner today will advance to the semifinals on Wednesday night in Nashville against the winner of the Jamaica-Panama match.
Goalkeepers (3): 12-Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 8/0), 22-Tyler Miller (LAFC; 0/0), 1-Zack Steffen (Manchester City/ENG; 12/0).
Defenders (8): 14-Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas; 4/0), 3-Omar Gonzalez (Toronto FC/CAN; 51/3), 2-Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes; 6/0), 23-Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 8/2), 16-Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact/CAN; 6/0), 19-Matt Miazga (Chelsea/ENG; 15/1), 13-Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 32/1), 5-Walker Zimmerman (LAFC; 9/2).
Midfielders (6): 4-Michael Bradley (Toronto FC/CAN; 147/17), 8-Weston McKennie (Schalke/GER; 11/1), 20-Djordje Mihailovic (Chicago Fire; 5/1), 10-Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 28/11), 15-Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 13/0), 6-Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 19/0).
Forwards (6): 17-Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC/CAN; 113/43), 7-Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 25/5), 21-Tyler Boyd (Vitória Guimãres/POR; 4/2), 18-Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids; 5/0), 11-Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 30/5), 9-Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC; 48/10).
Goalkeepers (3): 1-Eloy Room (PSV/NED), 22-Jairzinho Pieter (Vesta), 23-Zeus de la Paz (Oldham Athletic/ENG).
Defenders (5): 2-Cuco Martina (Feyenoord/NED), 3-Shermar Martina (MVV/NED), 4-Darryl Lachman (PEC Zwolle/NED), 5-Jurich Carolina (Den Bosch/NED), 13-Juriën Gaari (RKC/NED).
Midfielders (8): 6-Michaël Maria (Charlotte Independence/USA), 8-Roly Bonevacia (Al-Faisaly/SAU), 10-Leandro Bacuna (Cardiff City/WAL), 12-Shanon Carmelia (IJsselmeervogels/NED), 15-Shermaine Martina (MVV/NED), 17-Gersinio Constancia (Jong Holland), 20-Jimbertson Vapor (Scherpenheuvel), 21-Ayrton Statie (Lienden/NED).
Forwards (7): 7-Jarchinio Antonia (AEL Limassol/CYP), 9-Charlison Benschop (De Graafschap/NED), 11-Gevaro Nepomuceno (Oldham Athletic/ENG), 14-Kenji Gorré (Nacional/POR), 16-Gino van Kessel (Roeselare/BEL), 18-Elson Hooi (ADO Den Haag/NED), 19-Jafar Arias (Emmen/NED).
How to Watch
Match Time: 8:30 p.m. ET.
Venue: Lincoln Financial Field — Philadelphia, PA.
TV: FOX Sports 1, Univision.
Streaming: FOX Sports GO, Univision NOW.
Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along at @ussoccer and @TheManeLand. Also, be sure to follow @StarsAndStripesFC.
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Enjoy the match! Go America!