Vines lifts US over Haiti 1-0 in CONCACAF Gold Cup opener

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United States defender Sam Vines (3) celebrates after scoring a goal during the first half of a CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer match against Haiti, Sunday, July 11, 2021, in Kansas City, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Sam Vines scored his first international goal on a header in the eighth minute, and a U.S. team mostly of backup players opened the CONCACAF Gold Cup with a 1-0 victory over Haiti on Sunday night.

Shaq Moore’s cross bounced off two Haitans to Gyasi Zardes, who popped up the ball for Vines to head past goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre from 6 yards. Moore was making his sixth international appearance and Vines his fourth.

With the U.S. wearing new red-and-blue patterned road jerseys for the first time, Walker Zimmerman hit the crossbar just before Vines’ goal and Nicholas Gioacchini struck a post in the 66th.

U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter picked just four players for his 23-man roster from the group he selected for last month’s Nations League final four, allowing Christian Pulisic, Zack Steffen, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams and other regulars to report to European club preseasons.

The 20th-ranked U.S. improved to 36 wins, one loss and four draws in the Gold Cup group stage.

No. 83 Haiti was wuthout several regulars due to positive COVID tests.

Defending champion Mexico, with more than a dozen of its top players, is favored to win the Aug. 1 final at Las Vegas.

Berhalter started Matt Turner in goal, Moore at right back, Walker Zimmerman and Miles Robinson in central defense and Vines at left back.

Kellyn Acosta, Jackson Yueill and Sebastian Lletget were in midfield, Paul Arriola and Jonathan Lewis on the flanks and Zardes headed the attack. Arriola came out because of a tight right hamstring in the 14th minute and was replaced by Gioacchini.

Kansas City midfielder Gianluca Busio debuted in the 62nd minute, and defender James Sands and midfielder Eryk Williamson entered in the 76th. That raised American debuts to 68 since a 2017 loss at Trinidad and Tobago, including 47 under Berhalter.

Canada beat Martinique 4-1 in the first game of the Group B doubleheader on goals by Cyle Larin, Jonathan Osorio, Stephen Eustaqio and Theodor Corbeanu after Emmaiel Riviere put Martinique ahead.

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