Reaching the business end of the Gold Cup, the USMNT were prepared for their match in the Lincoln Financial Field against Curaçao, in what was a quarter final that they were expected to stroll. The small island nation of Curaçao had not made it to this stage on merit alone though, as the US were set to find out.

In a case of David and Goliath, the U.S. were set to face Curaçao in the Gold Cup quarter final. Any fool would know where to place their money when it came to the result, but anything can – and invariably does – happen in football. The weight of support from the 26,233 supporters inside Lincoln Financial Field was with the U.S., a star studded team that featured Chelsea’s new signing and America’s poster boy, Christian Pulisic, who was captaining the side for the first time in 2019. Curaçao on the other hand barely have a recognisable name amongst their team. 

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To put Curaçao's run to the knockout stages into perspective, they had never so much as scored a goal in the regional competition, let alone actually won a match. And now they faced the joint hosts and second favourites to win the tournament. Things were about to get real.

But try as they might, the U.S. just couldn’t get into their flow; Curaçao frustrating the host nation. Yes, the U.S. did eventually find a way through via Weston McKennie’s second career goal for the national team, assisted by captain Pulisic, but they huffed and puffed to get there, and Curaçao take every plaudit for their display. Gregg Berhalter’s side now face a semi final showdown with Jamaica, and if they fail to improve their performance, they may well miss out on the final.

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Photography by Derek Campbell for SoccerBible.