International friendly: USMNT 2-0 Cuba

The US Men’s National Team faced off against Cuba on Estadio Pedro Marrero’s rutted and ugly pitch Friday in Havana.

Jozy Altidore and Bobby Wood started up front for the Americans with Sacha Kljestan, Julian Green, and Christian Pulisic in support. Michael Bradley played as a deep distributor in front of DeAndre Yedlin, Geoff Cameron, John Brooks, and Fabian Johnson. Twenty-one year old Ethan Horvath started in goal.

First half

Although the US was immediately on the front foot, topography of the pitch and Cuba’s physical defense conspired to slow the match and prevent consistent pressure on the home goal. After a series of Michael Bradley set pieces failed to produce clear chances, Cuba was handed their own opportunity from a dead ball in the 13th minute. Horvath saw the ball out, but it was the start of a short period of energy from the home side.

Cuba broke out of a loose 4-4-2 to attack Yedlin up the US right. With Pulisic pressing forward, Yedlin was often left to patrol the entire flank, and Cuba found space, but few chances, behind the young fullback.

In the 17th minute, the US found a big chance as Bobby Wood penetrated the center and pushed his deflected shot over the home goal.

Eleven minutes of clunky soccer later, Roberney Caballero nearly put Cuba ahead as he cut in from the right and put his shot wide of net. Although the US were clearly the better side, a lack of focus and the poor field conditions continued to frustrate.

As Cuba looked to chop down Pulisic on the right, Julian Green began to make his presence felt up the left. In the 21st minute, the young winger cut inside of his man and drilled a bouncing shot that Sanchez smothered well.

Cuba continued to probe on the counter as Michael Bradley showed little discipline in the center. In the 34th minute, a tight offsides call saved the Americans’ blushes. Undeterred, Cuba was back on the attack a minute later and Horvath had to hope the ball would not hit a divot as he got low to save.

Second half

Steve Birnbaum replaced Brooks, Tim Chandler came on for Yedclin, and Chris Wondolowski entered for Pulisic, transitioning the Americans to a strange 4-3-3 setup.

In the opening minute of the second frame, Bobby Wood should have put the US in front. Julian Green found Jozy Altidore in the box and the big striker nodded the ball across the box for Wood, who tamely headed at Sanchez.

Chandler made an immediate impact on the right, lofting in a pair of crosses that Cuba struggled to clear.

After Julian Green’s shot was blocked in the 58th minute, Reyes countered for Cuba and nearly put the home side ahead. The winger’s lashed shot clanged off the inside of the near post and spun across the goal frame.

Green was the main threat for the US, but he could not translate his good positions into quality opportunities. Jordan Morris replaced Bobby Wood in the 60th minute to give the US a more vertical threat over the bumpy pitch.

The US finally took the lead through a combination of youth and experience in the 62nd minute. Once more, Green cut across from the left and fired a shot that Sanchez pushed back into play. Arriving from the right, Wondolowski cracked a follow-up into the top left corner.

Caballero nearly equalized in the 65th minute. Gomez sprung free on the right and ballooned a cross toward the far post that Caballero nodded off the near post with Horvath stranded. a follow-up shot spun wide of the far post.

Jozy Altidore and Sacha Kljestan departed in the 69th minute, with Paul Arriola and Danny Williams joining what had come to resemble a well-attended pickup game.

Wondolowski continued to show his ability in the difficult conditions as he set up Julian Green in the 72nd minute. Chandler released Wondolowski up the right and the San Jose striker calmly slid a pass across the box to Green who simply rammed the ball into the roof of the net from two yards out.

In the 81st minute, Cuba nearly cut the US lead in half after an obvious foul on Steve Birnbaum went uncalled. Birnbaum received a head-height stud to the forehead on an aerial challenge. Cuba’s resulting 2v1 was put over the bar, and Jurgen Klinsmann proceeded to show his deep knowledge of the English language as he loudly berated the referee and linesman.

Cuba nearly scored again in the 91st minute, but Hernandez was flagged offsides in the box.

Overall, this was as horrendous a match as one could imagine the sport of soccer producing, with Julian Green and Chris Wondolowski the only participants who can claim any benefits from its existence.

THe US will next face New Zealand on October 11 at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC.


  1. Watched limited parts of match, but hearing Klinsmann bark out…”are you f**king blind!” twice loud on tv was totally worth it.

  2. I’m glad they switched to 4-3-3, should have come out that way with the better personnel. It doesn’t take a footy genius to realize that with a crappy pitch……it’s more about tactics and spacing. Get wingers high and wide…….you aren’t pinging the ball around that pitch. I’m glad JK came to his senses…..but I’m perplexed how you can’t see that from the get go. Lastly, I know he had a goal and assist………but I cringe when Wondo is still part of the MNT. Lastly, I think Pulisic was blooded last night……..introduced to the shit pitches and hacks of CONCACAF!

  3. Regarding the pic, I didn’t realize that Julian Green is rechargeable.

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