Newcomer Tyler Boyd scored two goals to guide the United States past overmatched Guyana 4-0 to start the CONCACAF Gold Cup on Tuesday night, getting the Americans back on track in their first competitive game in 20 months.
Boyd, a 24-year-old attacker, made his U.S. debut in an ugly 3-0 loss to Venezuela on June 9 after a FIFA-approved switch of affiliation from New Zealand.
“Just a dream come true,” Boyd said. “It’s been years and years of work to get to this moment.”
Paul Arriola had a goal and an assist, and Weston McKennie had two assists before leaving with what appeared to be a left hamstring injury. Gyasi Zardes also scored for the Americans, who were on the attack for most of the game while generating a steady stream of prime scoring chances against a Guyana team making its Gold Cup debut.
Even a decisive victory like this wasn’t going to provide much insight into any progress being made under new coach Gregg Berhalter, given Guyana’s No. 177 ranking. Goalkeeper Zack Steffen made one save, in the 69th minute. With fan angst at a fever pitch and a young squad trying to find its way with a new, flashier style of play, though, there was plenty to be gained from, simply, winning .
Up next for the Americans in Group D on Saturday night in Cleveland is Trinidad and Tobago, the plucky islanders who beat them on Oct. 10, 2017, in the World Cup qualifier that kept them home last summer from Russia and caused a reexamination of the entire program. Panama beat Trinidad and Tobago 2-0 in the first match on Tuesday.
The U.S. has 33 wins, one loss and four draws in group stage of Gold Cup, losing only to Panama in 2011.
Qualifying failure allowed interim coach Dave Sarachan and later Berhalter to experiment often. They used 71 different players over the 18 exhibitions. Berhalter’s first competitive starting lineup featured midfielder Michael Bradley , who assisted on Boyd’s first goal in the 51st minute, back in the captaincy. Zardes was at forward instead of veteran Jozy Altidore, who’s working his way back from leg injuries.
Injuries kept likely starters Tyler Adams, John Brooks and DeAndre Yedlin off the Gold Cup roster, but McKennie and fellow 20-year-old Pulisic were on the field at kickoff with Bradley for the first time. Pulisic, the Pennsylvania star who hopes to return the U.S. to international relevance, made his presence felt around the net despite not scoring. He was subbed out in the 62nd minute for Cristian Roldan.
Arriola, the only player who has been in all of Berhalter’s lineups since he took over six months ago, scored in the 28th minute from 7 yards. Boyd had an opportunity to follow it after goalkeeper Akel Clarke pushed a shot to his right, but he wound up too hard and sent the ball sailing over the net and into the seats.
Boyd’s 52nd minute-goal marked the 1,000th in program history, in match No. 700. The sign that this was going to be a good night for the Americans came in the 56th minute when Arriola’s shot was headed by defender Terence Vancooten and went straight to the face of Zardes. The ball ricocheted into the net, and Zardes grimaced as his teammates celebrated.
Minnesota became the 27th state — Washington, D.C., has hosted too — with a U.S. men’s national team match played within its borders. This one was at sparkling Allianz Field, the just-opened home of Major League Soccer club Minnesota United. With a vintage summer sunset falling beneath the curved canopy of European-style stadium at kickoff, the colored LED lights encircling the building after nightfall, and a raucous red, white and blue capacity crowd of 19,418 into the action the whole time, the atmosphere matched the performance.