Gold Cup 2019: RBNY Players Making Most of National Team Play | New York Sports Nation

Gold Cup 2019: RBNY Players Making Most of National Team Play | New York Sports Nation
After a week of play, the CONCACAF 2019 Gold Cup hasn’t produced anything a regular fan wouldn’t have seen coming.

Sure, there’s been good showings by smaller countries like Bermuda and Curaçao plus the United States has looked pretty good following a series of weak friendly tune-up matches and the memories of 2017 still fresh. Mexico is dominating and the sky’s still blue round out the list of shocking facts.

Overall, still entertaining to watch but secretly we’re all waiting for the knockout to start so the real fun can begin. In the meantime, with the New York Red Bulls still not playing until this weekend and the first two sets of group stage games completed the four Bulls in the competition should be looked at for their work. All of them look to be heading to the knockout stage, with three locked in and one in position depending on the final group game.

Let’s take a look to see how the group of four is doing.

Derrick Etienne Jr. – Haiti

Etienne has been with the Haitian senior team for about three years now, previously being rostered on the nation’s youth squads, and is making his first appearance in the Gold Cup with the squad. For the most part in the two games, he’s played Derrick has been a solid set-up man whether he be playing for the full 90 minutes or only one half as a sub.

In the first game against Bermuda, Etienne came on as a sub to start the second half with his team surprisingly down a goal. In the 54th minute, he took part in a trick play during a free kick attempt that ended with a Frantzdy Pierrot header to even the score. In a more direct role, the Red Bull directly contributed to the winning goal in the 66th minute as he ran the ball deep into the left side of the Bermuda end. His cross into the box found Duckens Nazon at the top of the box. His shot was saved by Dale Eve in goal but the deflection found Pierrot who notched his second of the game. Combine that with five shots, three being on target, and passing accuracy just under 90% and you have a solid Gold Cup debut.

Photo: Timothy A. Clary/Getty Images

The most recent match against Guyana was a far more interesting one to say the least. Guyana, making its Gold Cup debut, scored twice on Murillo and the rest of the back-line (despite one being on a penalty kick) while his side had to score four times, including an own-goal, to earn the win, 4-2. The man himself earned an assist and had two shots during the game with one needing to be saved by keeper Akel Clarke. In the 16th minute, Murillo’s long pass from the right side reached a running Abdiel Arroyo who shot into the open net following Clarke missing the ball. Murillo also unofficially assisted on his team’s second goal that retook the lead after his cross in the box was redirected into the net off of Guyana’s Terence Vancooten.

Panama finishes group play against the United States where Murillo will face off against Red Bull teammate Aaron Long. With both teams locked into the next round, it will be interesting to see the squads playing in what should amount to a test game.
Photo: Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports

In his team’s next game against Nicaragua, Derrick did one better by earning a credited assist on the goal. Steeven Saba’s 22nd-minute low goal from distance, beyond the 18-yard box, and through traffic was fed by the Paterson N.J. homegrown before his slipped past a diving keeper. It almost looked as though he would get his first goal as well but officially not. After dribbling the ball into the box past multiple defenders, his hard shot deflected off Manuel Rosas went into the net as an own-goal.

So far in the tournament, Derrick has been a star standout for the Carabean nation. His passing skill, ability to find teammates, create chances, and outmaneuver defense on the wings to put the ball in play is proving a key asset. The teams biggest challenge will come in the final group stage match as they take on part-tournament host Costa Rica for the top spot heading into the knockout stage.

Important note: New York Sports Nation / Red Bulls Nation has been given media credentials to cover the Gold Cup doubleheader on Monday, June 24 at Red Bull Arena. The games include Bermuda vs Nicaragua & Haiti vs. Costa Rica. We will provide game updates, insight, and keep track of Etienne Jr. and his performance during the game.

Kemar Lawrence – Jamaica

Following two straight finals appearances, Lawrence and Jamaica are looking to finally grab the brass ring and become the first non-North American side to win the Gold Cup. Through two games the squad overall has shown some promise but have enough question marks to cause some worry.

Lawrence and the rest of his team started their campaign at home on Monday, June 17 when their 3-2 win against Honduras was played in Kingston, the first time a Gold Cup game originated from Jamaica. He started and played the full 90 minutes for his 50th cap with the national squad which he’s been with since 2013. Despite his team allowing two goals, for his own effort Lawrence played pretty well on the left side mostly taking on Alberth Elis who was held to no shots, a 75% pass accuracy rating, a yellow card, but did pick up an assist in the 54th after he beat Jamaican defender and USL Championship star Shaun Francis in the back to set up his Honduras’ first goal.

Photo: USA Today

The next game against El Salvador was another start for Kemar as both teams played to a draw, 0-0. Nearly three months to the day after El Salvador beat Jamaica in the final game of CONCACAF Nations League qualifying, placing both teams in League B of that tournament, both groups tested one another with multiple chances to gain an edge in the group table. Jamaica wasn’t able to get its first of three shots on goal until the 76th minute while in total six of nine shots weren’t even on target. To their credit, El Salvador has only kept to four shots all game with two being off-target. Both teams picked up three yellow cards each.

Kemar so far has done his part well but one has to wonder where Jamaica will land this year in the final standings. Coming up second twice in a row could mean now is the time for the team to shine or that the window of opportunity has closed, and with two goals allowed against a Honduran team that got blanked by Curaçao isn’t the most positive review. The Red Bull defender and his team will finish group play against aforementioned Curaçao on June 25 and try to clinch a spot in the quarterfinals.

Aaron Long – USA

Photo: David Dermer/AP Photo

In a team deep with talent and possibilities Aaron Long has a tall task in standing out among the pack. After a quiet first game playing his part on defense, two goals on Saturday, his first ever with the senior program, has put the Oak Hills, California native back in the big picture as the U.S. Men’s National team continues to rack points in its first competitive series since failing to qualify for the World Cup in late 2017.

In the opening game against Guyana, which Long started and played the full 90 in his first competitive game with the squad, the team cruised as it shot four times as many shots as its opponent on route to 4-0 win. Long and the back-line composed of Nick Lima, Tim Ream and Walker Zimmerman held Guyana to four shots all game with only one needing to be saved by keeper Zack Steffen. Overall it was an offensive game for the U.S. as they held the ball a majority of the time and took 16 shots with four being on target in addition to the four that went in. Long was nearly perfect during the game making 67 of 69 complete passes and stealing the ball twice from Guyanian players.

The second game saw the USA take on Trinidad and Tobago for the first time since October 10, 2017, where The Soca Warriors famously defeated the U.S., 2-1, and prevented the team from taking part in the World Cup final tournament for the first time since 1986. While Long wasn’t on that squad, he and the rest of the team put on a show as they routed on route to a 6-0 win. For his part, Long became the first USMNT defender to score two goals in a game ever according to the records provided by the national team’s media guide. He got his team’s first goal late in the first half when Chelsea star Christian Pulisic clipped in a ball from the top left corner of the box and found Long at the far post who headed it in.

For his part Pulisic, who had another assist and a goal during the game, said he at least was playing with a little extra knowing what happened the last time these two teams met. He was the lone scorer in that loss nearly two years ago.

“I didn’t like to say it, but I definitely had a little chip on my shoulder today and I hope you guys could see that,” Pulisic told Fox Sports after the match.

Long got his second in the 90th minute after a Weston McKennie shot was saved by the T&T keeper, but deflected directly into the air. The Red Bull found himself in the right spot at the left post and chested in the sixth and final goal of the night. With 54 complete passes out of 57, two goals on two shots, and seven steals in the 90 minutes. The United States finishes its group stage campaign against Panama on Wednesday, June 26.

Michael Amir Murillo – Panama

The final Red Bull player taking part in the 2019 Gold Cup in Michael Amir Murillo with Panama, fresh off making their World Cup debut last year that’s given the team an undeniable momentum coming in. While not a favorite to win, the team and Murillo having been playing well scoring six goals through two games and only allowing two.

In his first game against Trinidad and Tobago, Murillo played well enough getting two steals and helping to earn a clean sheet for his team in the win, 2-0. However, his passing game and efforts under pressure were a clear issue as he only completed 27 of 34 passes and on a few occasions allowed players like left winger Jomal Williams to get by him. Though when his goalkeeper only needs to save one of four shots all game it’s hard not to see the positives. The team scored twice in the second half against a side that reached the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying last year and who, on the surface, can be about the same level of competition on any given day.

Photo: Timothy A. Clary/Getty Images

The most recent match against Guyana was a far more interesting one to say the least. Guyana, making its Gold Cup debut, scored twice on Murillo and the rest of the back-line (despite one being on a penalty kick) while his side had to score four times, including an own-goal, to earn the win, 4-2. The man himself earned an assist and had two shots during the game with one needing to be saved by keeper Akel Clarke. In the 16th minute, Murillo’s long pass from the right side reached a running Abdiel Arroyo who shot into the open net following Clarke missing the ball. Murillo also unofficially assisted on his team’s second goal that retook the lead after his cross in the box was redirected into the net off of Guyana’s Terence Vancooten.

Panama finishes group play against the United States where Murillo will face off against Red Bull teammate Aaron Long. With both teams locked into the next round, it will be interesting to see the squads playing in what should amount to a test game.
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