Haiti must win against Honduras on Monday to stay alive in Gold Cup tourney
Clint Dempsey broke a scoreless stalemate early in the second half and the United States clinched a place in the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals with a 1-0 win over Haiti (0-1-1, 1 point) on Friday night before 46,720 fans at Gillette Stadium.
The result guaranteed that the Americans (2-0-0, 6 points) will finish first in Group A after a 1-1 draw between Honduras (0-1-1, 1 point) and Panama (0-2-0, 2 points) earlier in the evening left the Central Americans sides too far adrift.
In a riveting encounter, Haiti produced more first-half opportunities, but the insertion of Gyasi Zardes at half-time proved to be a master stroke by U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
The 23-year-old LA Galaxy star entered in place of Jozy Altidore and his introduction paid immediate dividends. After receiving a pass in the left side the box, Zardes pulled the ball back towards the penalty spot, allowing Dempsey to finish clinically with his right foot in the 47th minute. It was the Seattle Sounders star’s third goal in two games, leveling him with Mexico forward Oribe Peralta for the tournament lead.
Ten minutes later, Haiti nearly went on level terms through Duckens Nazon, who netted the equalizer in a 1-1 draw with Panama on Tuesday. Breaking into the right side of the box, the 21-year-old forward fired off a shot that goalkeeper Brad Guzan did well to block. Nazon got his own rebound, but sent the follow-up effort into the outside netting.
It was one of a handful of opportunities that Les Grenadiers wished they had back, especially in first half that saw them pose a serious offensive threat.
The active Wilde-Donald Guerrier proved to be a handful for the left side of the American defense.
In the 21st minute, after not being closed down, the Poland-based midfielder missed wide of the left post with the goal at his mercy.
Shortly after the USA’s Aron Johannsson had a goal disallowed for offside in the 35th minute, Guerrier was presented with another opportunity. A poor U.S. clearance ricocheted off a Haitian and fell to Guerrier in the right side of the box. His left-footed attempt to find the target twisted around the left post.
Earlier in the half, a Mechak Jerome free kick curled around the left side of the U.S. wall only for the ball to hit off the top of the crossbar.
Both sides will return to action on July 13 at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas, with Haiti taking on Honduras and the U.S. facing off against Panama in a rematch of the 2013 final, which the Americans won 1-0.