By Rory Carroll
(Reuters) – The United States got their Gold Cup title defence off to a flying start with a 4-0 win over Guyana in Saint Paul, Minnesota on Tuesday.
The United States opened the scoring in the 28th minute when Weston McKennie delivered a pass to Paul Arriola, who found the back of the net to fire up the crowd at Allianz Field.
Tyler Boyd made it 2-0 in the 51st minute, taking a long pass from Michael Bradley and rifling the ball home despite appearing to be in an offside position.
The tournament is not using Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology so the play was not reviewed.
Boyd’s goal was the 1,000th scored by the U.S. Men’s National Team, who played their first match in August 1916.
Gyasi Zardes pushed the lead to 3-0 10 minutes into the second half when a deflected shot hit him hard in the face and sailed into the goal. The 27-year-old appeared shaken but continued playing.
Boyd struck again from distance in the 81st minute to complete the rout.
“We knew we had to get started on the right foot and after breaking the ice, we were able to break them down,” Arriola said.
“The most important thing was to win with confidence and clarity and I think we did that today. It’s a great start for us but it’s just one game.”
The victory, which came on the back of two defeats in friendlies against Jamaica and Venezuela, was the biggest yet for U.S. head coach Gregg Berhalter, who was hired in December after the United States failed to make last year’s World Cup.
One concern for the team was a left hamstring injury suffered by 20-year-old midfielder McKennie late in the game.
The United States next face Trinidad and Tobago in Cleveland on Saturday.
It will be the first meeting between the two since Trinidad and Tobago’s victory in October 2017 ended the United States’ qualification campaign for the World Cup in Russia.
In the other Group D game, Guyana will face Panama, who defeated Trinidad and Tobago 2-0 earlier in the day.
The United States are looking for their seventh Gold Cup title while Guyana are making their first appearance at the competition, which is held every two years and crowns the continental champion of North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll, editing by Sudipto Ganguly/Peter Rutherford)