CINCINNATI -- Sloppy defense and careless goalkeeping sent the United States to another disconcerting loss Sunday, 3-0 to Venezuela in the Americans' final exhibition before the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Another bad start never got much better.
Venezuela surged ahead 3-0 in the first 36 minutes, the first time the U.S. had trailed by three goals in an opening half since June 4, 2011, against world champion Spain. Salomon Rondon had two of the goals, moving ahead of Juan Arango for the Venezuelan career scoring record with 24, and La Vinotinto beat the Americans for the first time after three defeats and two draws.
The U.S. dropped a pair of exhibitions in a five-day span while preparing for its Gold Cup opener June 18 against Guyana in St. Paul, Minn., the first competitive match for the Americans in 20 months. They were coming off a 1-0 loss to Jamaica -- only their second home defeat to a Caribbean nation in a half-century -- that prompted several roster moves. Forward Josh Sargent and six others were cut a day later.
The defense was the most glaring issue this time, with Coach Gregg Berhalter describing it as "really careless" during a halftime interview. Many of the 23,955 fans at Nippert Stadium, home of Major League Soccer's new Cincinnati team, booed as the half ended.
The U.S. enters the Goal Cup with an unproven goalkeeper for the first time in three decades, and it showed Sunday.
A bad decision by Zack Steffen, who was in goal for the second consecutive game, set up Venezuela's first score. His careless pass went directly to Yangel Herrera in front of the penalty area. Steffen was out of position as Rondon got a pass from Jhon Murillo and knocked in his 23rd international goal.
Another defensive lapse off a throw-in set up Venezuela's second score. Jefferson Savarino hit the left post, followed the carom past two stuck-in-place defenders and scored from the right side, his first international goal in 10 appearances.
Rondon circled around defender Aaron Long for the third score.
Sports on 06/10/2019
Print Headline: Venezuela shreds sloppy U.S. defense