The U.S. boss saw room for improvement after dispatching Cuba in the opening match of Olympic qualification.NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Caleb Porter sure didn't sound like a coach whose team just won 6-0.
“I'm not satisfied with the performance, even though the result was lopsided,” the U.S. U23 coach said in a press conference after his team throttled Cuba in the opening match of Olympic qualifying.
The U.S. jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute thanks to a Joe Corona goal, and then got a huge boost when Cuban defender Dario Macias was shown a straight red card in the 19th minute for elbowing Juan Agudelo.
The red card all but ended the game as a contest for the already overmatched Cubans, and the U.S. strolled to a six-goal win behind a Corona hat trick. Still, Porter found certain aspects of his team's performance that could use some fine-tuning.
“I still thought it could have been better, especially early in the game,” he said. “I thought we were a little bit shaky in the buildup, the defending could have been a little tighter.”
His assessment may have seemed harsh, but it's clear Porter has instilled a unified mentality in his squad, as his players echoed his sentiments.
“I don't think we're satisfied either,” midfielder Brek Shea said. “We were fortunate to go up a man early on. We still were shaky, there were times where we had no pressure and we still lost the ball. He (Porter) knows we're a better team and we know we're a better team.”
“We had some good things and we had some bad things that we have to work on, so I'm not mad at him (Porter) for saying that,” added midfielder Mix Diskerud, who assisted on two of Corona's goals on the night.
Porter praised his center midfield trio of Diskerud, Corona and Jared Jeffrey, but also saved room for some constructive criticism of them as well.
“I thought they were a little soft overall in the first half as a group,” Porter said of the trio. “Those three guys I thought could have been a little bit harder through the middle.”
Luckily for Porter's charges, they won't have to wait long to improve upon Thursday's performance, as the U.S. takes on Canada on Saturday in the second game of Group A play. The Canucks fought to a dour 0-0 draw against El Salvador in Thursday's first game.
The American coach expects a better performance against the Canadians, which can't be welcome news for the contingency from north of the border.
“We'll be much sharper moving forward,” Porter promised.
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