Martinique vs. United States Odds
|United States Odds||-1430|
|Over/Under||3.5 (-108 / -121)|
|Day | Time||Thursday | 10 p.m. ET|
|How To Watch||FS1 | UniMás | fuboTV|
|Odds updated Wednesday night via DraftKings.|
The U.S. men’s national team hopes to build on an imperfect victory to open the Gold Cup when they face heavy underdogs Martinique in their second Group B match on Thursday.
The U.S. defeated Haiti 1-0 Sunday on the strength of Sam Vines’ early goal, but never looked as dominant as some would expect.
Martinique lost its opener 4-1 to Canada, but only after giving an early scare to their North American opponents.
Emmanuel Riviere put the Caribbeans in front early, only for Canada to respond swiftly and grab a 3-1 lead by the end of the opening half-hour.
Martinique Lacks Players With Foreign Experience
Like Haiti, Martinique is also a French-speaking nation from the Caribbean. The footballing similarities end there.
Haiti entered the Gold Cup having played four World Cup qualifiers and two Gold Cup qualifiers since the beginning of June.
Meanwhile, Martinique’s loss to Canada came in its first sanctioned match since 2019. That’s due to a combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and Martinique’s unique status as a national team recognized by CONCACAF but not by FIFA, meaning it does not participate in World Cup qualifying.
And while Haiti has a roster full of players based professionally in North America or Europe, a considerable majority of Martinique’s squad plays in its own domestic league.
Riviere is an exception. The center forward brings a decade of experience from Ligue 1, the English Premier League and Serie A. He’s charged with replacing the production of Kevin Parsemain, Martinique’s all-time leading scorer in the Gold Cup with five goals (2013, 2017, 2019).
While the 33-year-old Parsemain is not on the roster, Martinique is one of the oldest squads at this tournament, with 11 players on its 23-man roster age 30 or above.
Who Changes in the United States Starting XI?
The U.S. may have only scored once against Haiti, but those expecting a rout weren’t paying close enough attention.
This is an American squad without most of its top-level talent, and it was playing together for the first time against an opponent that has had a month of games to build chemistry.
And despite the score, the abundance of chances the U.S. generated — striking the woodwork twice in addition to their early goal — is cause for optimism going forward.
The question is whether manager Gregg Berhalter chooses an experienced starting XI again, or opts for a younger and arguably more dynamic squad.
Some of the Americans’ best sequences against Haiti came from substitutes — in particular Nicholas Gioacchini and Gianluca Busio.
Berhalter will likely have to make at least one change after winger Paul Arriola departed Sunday’s match early with hamstring tightness.
Betting Analysis & Pick
We don’t know this particular group of U.S. players very well. But one hallmark of Gregg Berhalter’s possession-oriented, slow-build focus has been an ability to break clearly inferior opponents relatively easily.
Group play at the 2019 Gold Cup was a good example, where the Americans saw off Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago by a combined 10-1 margin.
The 2021 team isn’t as talented. But there were good sequences against Haiti, who is better than either of those teams above, and considerably more talented than Martinique.
I don’t know how much to expect out of Riviere and his supporting cast going forward, which is why I’m hesitant to bet the total over 3.5 goals.
But Martinique has conceded at least three goals in its last six matches against North American Gold Cup foes (U.S., Canada, Mexico) dating back to 2013. And after the U.S. created nearly 2.0 expected goals (xG) against Haiti, it’s hard for me to envision them failing to score at least three here.
So I’m betting the U.S. to score more than 2.5 goals at -210 odds and an implied 67.7% probability. It’s a more conservative play than the over, but one that history says is close to a lock to hit.
Pick: Team Total, United States +2.5 goals (-210)