Gold Cup Preview: U.S. vs Cuba

IMAGE, MLSSOCCER.COM

by Deny Gallagher
USMNT Staff Writer

The United States Men’s National Team is now in the business end of the 2015 Gold Cup as they take on Cuba in Saturday’s quarterfinal.

Know The Enemy: Cuba

It has been well documented that Cuba had the worst goal differential of a team to advance in the history of the tournament. Their lone goal came late in the game against Guatemala courtesy of 22-year-old striker Maikel Reyes.

Little is known about this Cuba side due to the fact that their entire 23-man roster plays domestically.

Based off stats alone, it is evident that the core of this team is its midfield. In fact, 72 percent of the offensive output heading into this match came from their three most capped player.

The general of their midfield is Yénier Márquez, who has found the back of the net 15 times in 126 appearances. Cuba’s next leading goal scorer is Ariel Martínez, who has 11 goals in 54 appearances. The final member of the trio is Alain Cervantes who has scored 8 times in 67 appearances.

This quarterfinal will be a complete mismatch for Cuba, as the United States has the edge at every single position.

Cuba’s best chance at winning will be from set pieces and using the counter attack to get forward. Expect manager Raúl González Triana’s side to sit back and defend the U.S. attack for 90 minutes.

The American Perspective

Saturday’s matchup with Cuba will give manager Jurgen Klinsmann an opportunity to figure out his best lineup.

Earlier in the week, Alan Gordon, Joe Corona, and DaMarcus Beasley were called into camp for the knockout stage. Bringing back Beasley makes a lot of sense. In the group stage, Jurgen put Fabian Johnson in the outside back position that Beasley excelled in at last year’s World Cup. To date, Johnson has had mixed results at the position making a move back to the midfield imminent.

When the United States steps on the field against Cuba, don’t expect a formation change from what we’ve seen the past few weeks. Rather Klinsmann will move players around to put them in their best position to succeed.

The United States is at their best when they are getting forward from the back. With a small alteration like starting Beasley at left back, Johnson at left midfield, and Gyasi Zardes up top, Klinsmann may have found the combination that will take the United States to the next level.

Projected Starting XI

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  • Tyler

    You forgot that Brooks is out with yellow accumulation… may want to change lineup projection