Gold Cup report card: US men's soccer finishes strong after rocky start

Published: Sunday, July 14 2013 12:49 a.m. MDT

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Starters: Edgar Castillo, Tony Beltran, Oguchi Onyewu and Michael Orozco

One risk taken by the U.S. back line is the potential to be caught on through balls. The United States defenders often like to step up, forming a tight offsides trap. This tactic worked extremely well for the U.S. on Saturday, though. On one occasion in the first half, three cuban players all made runs before the ball left their teammate's feet, which in turn led to a strong U.S. counter attack.

Oguchi Onyewu wore the captain's stripe for the home team on Saturday, and he proved to deserve the honor. Time after time he sacrificed his body to avoid giving up a run, a cross or a shot by the Cuban offense. He even went down hard, tweaking his knee, after refusing to give Cuba a shot inside the U.S. box midway through the second half.

The two outside backs, Edgar Castillo and Tony Beltran, took a good 30 minutes to really settle into the game. In the 36th minute, Castillo lost a run battle with Cuban midfielder Ariel Martinez, allowing him to turn the corner. Martinez then served up an assist to forward Jose Alfonso, who put Cuba on the scoreboard. Although this lapse in judgement hurt the U.S., Castillo's play immediately picked up following the goal.

Beltran played well in his first action in Gold Cup play and in front of his home crowd. In the first half, he gave away some cheap balls and made a few ill-advised passes. However, he managed to adjust to the game and finish strong. He made several important defensive stops for the U.S.

Grade: B
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