Kiesewetter Brace, Miazga Header Advance U-23s into Semifinals

by Deny Gallagher

Saturday afternoon in Kansas City, the United States was able to cruise past Cuba by a score of 6-1 in the second game of the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

The win puts the United States into the semifinal and to the top of Group A with six points.

The six goals in the match were evenly distributed within the team. An early goal by Cameron Carter-Vickers opened the scoring, but a Jerome Kiesewetter brace led the way. New York Red Bulls defender Matt Miazga, Emerson Hyndman, and Alosno Hernandez would also score in the United States’ dominant performance against Cuba.

The United States got out to yet another fast start, imposing their will on Cuba from the opening whistle. After earning several corners, the United States could not find the final touch in the first ten minutes of play.

Right around the quarter hour mark, the United States finally converted their first opportunity of the afternoon. Jordan Morris earned a free kick on the left flank. Cameron Carter-Vickers put a head on the end of a Luis Gil free kick to make it 1-0 in favor of the Americans.

In the 28th minute, Cuba was able to create their first dangerous opportunity of the afternoon, as a long-range strike forced Zack Steffen into a diving save to prevent the equalizer. Cuba’s ensuing corner went and out of danger to keep the American lead in tact.

The United States put this game out of reach between the 35th and 38th minute, scoring two goals in that time frame. The first goal came in the 36th minute when the Red Bull’s Matt Miazga got on the end of a Matt Polster cross to make it 2-0. The scoring play highlighted the center back’s height and strength to increase the side’s advantage.

Minutes later it was the Jordan Morris/Jerome Kiesewetter connection causing Cuba fits. The passage began with Morris receiving a dangerous through ball on the ground from Luis Gil. Once again, the Stanford man used his strength to gain possession and play a controlled ball to an on running Jerome Kiesewetter. The Stuttgart striker finished the open-net opportunity for his first goal of the afternoon.

At the end of the first 45 minutes of play, it the United States held a commanding 3-0 lead over Cuba.

Things would go from bad to worse for the Cubans in the 49th minute. Some great combination play in the box between Morris, Marc Pelosi, and Kiesewetter led to the fourth goal of the afternoon. Less than five minutes later, the goal scorer left the match in favor of former U-20 Maki Tall.

Emerson Hyndman joined the list of goal scorers in the 69th minute. The passage of play would not be possible without a beautiful back heel from Luis Gil that unlocked the Cuban back line. The Real Salt Lake man tallied his third assist of the afternoon after Hyndman was able to send a bending shot into the back of the net.

With a little more than 20 minutes to play, manager Andi Hertzog’s side held a commanding 5-0 lead in the second match of the tournament. In the 76th minute, this one became hard to watch, as Alonso Hernandez scored the U-23’s sixth goal of the contest off a great ball by Gboly Ariyibi.

In the shadow of full time, Cuba was able to get a goal back. However, the real concern for the U.S. was Marc Pelosi being carried off the field in the final minutes of the match. The defender did walk to the bench with no assistance.

The United States wraps up group play on Tuesday against Panama having already punched their ticket to the semifinals. Kick off from Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Denver, Colorado, is set for 9:30 PM ET.

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