July 11, 2017

The Semper Soccer Blog USA vs. Martinique 2017 Gold Cup Preview

The first game is out of the way. At least the United States team can say that. Team USA kicked off their Gold Cup tournament Saturday with a 1-1 draw against Panama. Bruce Arena and his team are ready to put that steamy afternoon in Nashville behind them and move on to the second game. They’re focused on getting three points on matchday two after settling for just a split in the first. It’s time to put a wrap on that Panama game and move on to the Semper Soccer blog’s USA vs. Martinique 2017 Gold Cup preview.

Last Time Out

Dom Dwyer scored his second goal in as many starts for the USMNT as we look ahead with our USA vs. Martinique 2017 Gold Cup Preview.

Dom Dwyer scored his second goal in as many starts for the USMNT in their draw against Panama.

The United States looked sluggish on Saturday versus Panama. Their play was not near as fluid as it was in their warm-up match against Ghana. Disjointed passes, some tired legs in the heat and a few lineup changes seemed to take their toll on the squad. The highlight of the day was Kelyn Rowe finding Dom Dwyer with a great pass as Dwyer notched his second goal in as many appearances for the USMNT. Panama’s Miguel Camargo equalized in the 60th minute off a rebound following a sequence of saves from Brad Guzan. Guzan played a solid game with 7 saves, doing as much as he could to keep Panama out of the net. The back line played timidly and struggled to defend one on one out on the flanks.

In the second game in Nashville, Martinique took advantage of the draw to capture first place in Group B. They impressed with a 2-0 victory over Nicaragua. Goals from Kevin Parsemain in the 35th and Steeven Langil in the 66th made for a comfortable win. It’s worth noting that Martinique did rack up four yellow cards in the win. But in the end, a win is a win and those three points currently have Les Matinino atop the group.

The Matchup

Our USA vs. Martinique 2017 Gold Cup preview turns the page to examine what these two teams expect in this match. The scene switches to Tampa, Florida and Raymond James Stadium for Wednesday’s game. The United States side is ready to move on as they know they didn’t play well in the curtain-raiser. Look no further than midfielder Kellyn Acosta, who comes into this tournament with high hopes and fell short of those expectations in the Panama match.

The Stars & Stripes should have plenty of motivation now. They need two big wins to secure first place in Group B with the goal of being matched up against one of the third-place finishers in the quarterfinals. Arena is looking for much sharper quality all over the field. The two bright spots so far have been Kelyn Rowe on the wing and Dom Dwyer at forward. Their attacking dynamic will be necessary while a few players need to pitch in to improve on Saturday’s result. The defense will need to be more aggressive as well, especially in one on one situations.

Martinique is not intimidated in this competition. Their connections with France make them formidable in the talent department. The island nation is a member of CONCACAF but not FIFA, so U.S. fans haven’t seen this squad as much as they have others. They also come into the game with loads of confidence with three points and a first-place ranking.

The USA vs. Martinique 2017 Gold Cup Preview Projected Lineup

Do we need to say it? We’re going to say it anyway. Expect to see a few changes to the USA’s starting 11 Wednesday night. Let’s start with the defense. Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler are fine defenders but don’t seem to partner well. They both played a safe, contained style against Panama and it looked timid. One of these center backs should be paired with a more aggressive defender. Matt Hedges may get the start in that role. Also, it’s Eric Lichaj’s turn at right back. Graham Zusi is a known quantity back there and Arena preferred his experience in the Panama game. Zusi’s one on one defending left something to be desired.

Further up the formation, the midfield could resemble something more like we saw against Ghana.  Joe Corona didn’t impress against Panama the way he did versus Ghana. Alejandro Bedoya looked out of sync with the rest of the midfield as well. Juan Agudelo provided a spark off the bench, so we’ll look for him to start in a 4-4-2 formation.

USA vs. Martinique 2017 Gold Cup Preview projected lineup

USA vs. Martinique 2017 Gold Cup Preview projected lineup

The Prediction

With that being said, this is a game Arena, his players and the USA fans expect to win. They certainly have to play better than they did Saturday, but Panama was always expected to be the toughest match in the group. We expect a number of lineup changes and added motivation as the Stars & Stripes know they should win this group. Look for a more fired up U.S. side that plays like a team knowing they need to come out and grab this game. Our pick: USA, 3-1.

How To Watch

Date/Time: July 12, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, 8:00 p.m. Central

TV: FOX, Univision

Watch Parties: Find your local American Outlaws chapter and enjoy the game together.

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