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Gold Cup Player Rankings: USMNT’s Pulisic, Zardes land high on list

The U.S. men’s national team made its mark on the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup on Saturday night by putting six goals past Trinidad and Tobago

Mar 21, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; United States forward Christian Pulisic (10) defends against the Ecuador during second half of an international friendly soccer match at Orlando City Stadium. (Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)
Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

The U.S. men’s national team made its mark on the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup on Saturday night by putting six goals past Trinidad and Tobago. 

Not only did the six-goal outburst provide a statement to the rest of the Gold Cup contenders, it shook up the second edition of our Gold Cup Player Rankings. 

All three of the two-goal scorers from Saturday’s victory moved into the list of the top 10 best players at the Gold Cup, while Mexico once again boasts two players on the list. 

The stars of Matchday 2 didn’t just come from the top teams in Concacaf. Curacao and Martinique moved into the win column behind impressive individual performances, while El Salvador and Haiti continued their strong tournaments with an eye on the knockout round. 

10. Eloy Room, GK, Curacao

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

Eloy Room was the reason why we saw the first true upset of the tournament on Friday in Houston. 

Room made a whopping 13 saves for Curacao in its 1-0 victory over Honduras, which eliminated Los Catrachos from advancing to the next round. 

Room and the Curacao defense faced an onslaught from Honduras for the entire match. Honduras ended the contest with 35 shots, 13 of which were on target and denied by Room. 

9. Kevin Fortune, F, Martinique

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

Kevin Fortune helped Martinique keep its knockout-round hope alive in Wednesday’s 3-0 win over Cuba. 

Fortune handed out a pair of assists on the first two goals of the game scored by Joris Marveaux and Stephane Abaul, and he finished off the scoring with a strike of his own in the 84th minute. 

Martinique still faces an uphill climb to get into the knockout round since it faces a three-goal gap in goal differential with Canada and has to face Mexico on Sunday in Charlotte. 

8. Darwin Cerén, M, El Salvador

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

El Salvador has quietly put together one of the best defensive performances of the tournament. 

Darwin Ceren and Co. have not conceded a goal over 180 minutes, and they have a chance to win Group C after playing to a 0-0 draw with Jamaica on Friday. 

Ceren and the El Salvador back line held the Reggae Boyz to two shots on target after they scored on three occasions in their opening game.

7. Aaron Long, D, United States

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

Aaron Long made history on Saturday night by becoming the first defender to score twice in a single game for the U.S. Men’s National Team. 

Long’s goals in the 41st and 90th minutes bookended the 6-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago in which the USMNT finally looked comfortable in attack in Gregg Berhalter’s system. 

Long and the USMNT defense also held T&T to three shots on goal over 90 minutes in Cleveland. 

6. Elias Aguilar, M, Costa Rica

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Elias Aguilar is the only Costa Rica player to score in each of the Ticos’ first two group games. 

After finding the back of the net against Nicaragua, Aguilar netted what would be the game-winning goal against Bermuda on Thursday. 

Aguilar scored in the 54th minute against a Bermuda side that held its own for the majority of the contest, but the Ticos had enough firepower to stay on top of Group B. 

5. Andres Guardado, M, Mexico 

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

In a 53-minute shift off the bench, Andres Guardado bagged two of the three goals scored by Mexico on Wednesday. 

The best of the pair was his blast from outside the box in the 54th minute that flew into the top-left corner of the net.

The brace was the third in the Gold Cup for the 32-year-old midfielder, who scored five goals at the 2015 Gold Cup.

4. Tyler Boyd, M, United States

Previous Ranking: 

The only question regarding Tyler Boyd right now is how did the USMNT not discover him sooner? 

The midfielder, who filed a one-time switch from New Zealand before the Gold Cup, has been one of the best players over two games for the USMNT. 

Although he didn’t pick up a goal or assist against Trinidad and Tobago, Boyd was massive in the final third during his 61-minute shift. 

3. Uriel Antuna, F, Mexico 

Previous Ranking: 

LA Galaxy’s Uriel Antuna is still in first place of the Golden Boot race, despite not finding the back of the net against Canada. 

Although he didn’t score in the 3-1 win, Antuna handed out an assist on Guardado’s 77th-minute strike. 

Going into Matchday 3, Antuna is tied with Gyasi Zardes for the most goals in the tournament.

2. Gyasi Zardes, F, United States

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked 

At least for one game, Zardes silenced the massive amount of critics that have had choice words about his ability to score on the international stage. 

On Saturday, Zardes scored on a tap-in the 66th minute and then delivered a beautiful shot into the top of the net in the 69th minute.

Saturday’s brace marked the second time the Columbus Crew man has bagged two goals in a game for the USMNT. The other came back in 2016 against Bolivia in a friendly before the Copa America Centenario. 

1. Christian Pulisic, M, United States

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

The Christian Pulisic we’ve all been waiting to see on the international level arrived on Saturday. 

The Chelsea midfielder had a goal and two assists for the USMNT, and he could have had more in the trouncing of Trinidad and Tobago. 

In order for the USMNT to reach its full potential and repeat as Gold Cup champion, Pulisic needs to continue performing at the high level he was at on Saturday, and there is a good chance we see that continue against Panama with first place in Group D on the line. 

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