Cameron Carter-Vickers (pictured) celebrates after scoring in the USA's win over Cuba in the CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying Championship on October 3, 2015, in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo: Mexsport)
KANSAS CITY, Kansas – It is mission accomplished -- at least in part -- for the United States, which advanced to the 2015 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship semifinals with a game to spare after a 6-1 win over Cuba on Saturday at Sporting Park.
“That was important, that was our goal,” United States under-23 head coach Andreas Herzog said. “We said in the meeting, even in the locker room before we left for the field, was that we wanted to set the tone right from the beginning. I think the boys did a good job and that’s why we deserve to be in the semifinals.”
For a second straight game, the U.S. was lifted by a quick start on a pair of quick set-piece goals by central defenders Cameron Carter-Vickers (17) and Matt Miazga (20).
“We wanted to have more possession, to create some opportunities with quick movements and combinations through the middle,” Herzog added. “I think it worked really well, not right from the beginning because we scored the first two goals from set pieces. Overall, it’s always important to score some goals.”
The international prospects for Carter-Vickers and Miazga, Herzog stressed, are boundless.
“We still have to improve on set pieces defensively and attacking wise, but they’re young, powerful and really good,” expressed Herzog, a former Austria international. “They’re the center backs of the future for the U.S. They have to prove it now from game to game. I expect a lot from them. They did a good job again.”
All told, the United States has nine goals from seven different scorers after two matches in Group A.
“It would be better to have 15 goals from five players,” Herzog joked. “Overall, two games…nine goals, it’s good. They’re young players. Every goal you score for your country is huge. You can see the celebration afterward. I remember when I was young, I had the same feeling. I’m really happy for every single player when he scores a goal. Most of all, it’s important to win the games, of course, but it’s great for such young players.”
Herzog expects more youngsters to get on the field for the final group stage match Tuesday in Commerce City, Colorado, when his side meets Panama.
“There’s a lot of games in a short period for the players, so we have to think about bringing in some fresh legs and resting some players,” Herzog finished. “In the end, we want to win every game. I have confidence in every single player who is in the roster. If we make some changes for the game against Panama, we still keep the same optimism and I expect us to win the next game too.”