The USMNT leapt out to a 2-0 first-half lead over El Salvador thanks to goals from two unlikely players. Despite Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey lining up together as a striking partnership, the scoring came from defenders Omar Gonzalez and Eric Lichaj.
After a sloppy, wide-open start that led to chances on both ends, Gonzalez gave the U.S. an advantage when he just managed a headed touch off a long Michael Bradley free kick, with the ball gliding through El Salvador keeper Derby Carrillo’s hands.
Just six minutes later, in stoppage time, Clint Dempsey sent a great pass into the box for Nottingham Forest’s Eric Lichaj, a typically overlooked man in his USMNT career. Lichaj, however, took the pass and finished like a striker.
The goals were Lichaj’s first of his international career and Gonzalez’s third. Of course, large-scale, nobody really cares about winning the Gold Cup, and the scoreline flatters the U.S.’s first half performance. But these competitions can be nice because they give B-level players a chance to shine. Lichaj, and Gonzalez in particular, deserved that chance.