USMNT demolishes overmatched Cuba, but bigger challenges lie ahead

WASHINGTON — Let’s start by stating the obvious: Cuba is not very good.

That much was abundantly clear from the off on Friday night at Audi Field. The U.S. was up a goal within the game’s first 30 seconds and from then on it did not get much more difficult. 

The USMNT would win its CONCACAF Nations League opener 7-0 and in truth, it’s not a game from which Gregg Berhalter’s side will learn much on the field. 

But while there won’t be a lot of tactical or personnel lessons to be drawn from Friday night’s game, the U.S. did manage to stop a three-game winless run and restore a bit of the feel-good factor ahead of a much tougher challenge at Canada on Tuesday.

For a program that appears to have stagnated over the last few years, any win this lopsided will at least provide a platform upon which to build. And with a tricky-looking fixture in Toronto to come Friday’s result will be welcomed — no matter the opponent.

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Weston McKennie and Jordan Morris were the stars of an overwhelmingly one-sided first half in which the USMNT put six past the Cubans.

Morris had free rein down the right side of the U.S. attack and tied the program records for assists in a game within the game’s first 45 minutes, laying on three for his teammates. 

McKennie, meanwhile, cut through the center of the Cuban defense with consummate ease, scoring his first two goals in nearly identical fashion before completing his hat trick in just the 13th minute for the fastest treble in USMNT history. 

Though even more program records were in sight, both players were subbed off at halftime with one eye on Tuesday’s game at BMO Field in Toronto.

But by then they had done more than enough during their time on the pitch, providing the USMNT with something to build on after another rough patch under Berhalter. 

The USMNT was outplayed in the Gold Cup final in July, losing 1-0 to Mexico before it was even more comprehensively beaten by El Tri in 3-0 result in a friendly last month. 

Berhalter’s project has come under fire just 10 months into his reign, making the team’s upcoming four-game Nations League run perhaps more meaningful than he would have liked. 

Should the U.S. fail to top its three-team group, bigger questions will be asked. At the very least, though, Berhalter’s side is off to a strong start. 

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