Players throughout this roster know that these Gold Cup matches serve as a platform, a bright stage on which to make statements of intent as the home stretch of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying nears, and competition for potential World Cup spots in Russian Federation heats up.
Bruce Arena has told his team that everyone on the roster will play in World Cup, and that will certainly mean changes.
In a win over minnows Martinique on Wednesday, a USMNT with a lot of changes since Game 1 was equally poor, but at least it was entertaining.
Failing to break through in the first half, the U.S. moved into a 2-0 lead in the second through goals by Omar Gonzalez in the 54th minute and Morris' first on the 64th.
Entering the tournament on a high after a defeat of Ghana in last week's warm-up friendly, the USMNT were brought crashing down to earth by Panama's rugged display in Nashville, Tennessee.
Though Arena and several of his players - Acosta used the most blunt terms - admitted their shortage of quality, an "on to the next one" mentality prevailed, and with some justification.
A minute after Morris' missed opportunity, Gonzalez scored his second career worldwide goal by stabbing a rebound past Olimpa.
After a wrong offside call on Morris in minute 83 USMNT fought to secure their win and proved to be more aggressive in the final minutes of the game.
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The USA had most of the ball - 62 percent of the possession - but Gyasi Zardes, Juan Agudelo and Arriola attacked in a helter-skelter fashion all over the field. The goals began in the 53rd minute when Omar Gonzalez put in a rebound from a Paul Arriola shot.
Morris doubled the lead 10 minutes later as the encounter effectively burst to life, slotting low into a gaping net following a delightful buildup down the right flank involving Eric Lichaj and Alejandro Bedoya.
The quest for the Gold Cup has indeed made headlines in the world of sports as 12 teams from Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean nations, compete for the global honor.
But Martinique tied the score on a pair of goals by Kevin Parsemain, the first a long-range shot that went past goalkeeper Brad Guzan on a bounce and the second a pass that hit Parsemain and went in on the deflection. It's something you accept when you name him your starting keeper. This isn't a team filled with second-division players, though. And, while he didn't score on Wednesday, he also presented a strong case for more playing time for the remainder of the Gold Cup.
In the 76th minute, Parsemain came through again, poking the ball softly past Guzan, who was on the ground after sliding to deflect a shot.
But my seeming indifference to some soccer competitions is a symptom of there being too much soccer on TV. And you don't want even your B-squad having to sweat out a win against a team like this. Since the match against Nicaragua on Saturday is the second game in a doubleheader, the MNT will know exactly what it needs to do in order to finish in first place.
With the so-called "B-team" representing the United States at this 2017 Gold Cup, one might believe that an individual and collective hunger wouldn't be hard to see or feel.
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