Tyler Boyd didn't need a Gold Cup match to cap-tie him — the one-time change of association he filed with FIFA took care of that — but what Tuesday's U.S. national team Gold Cup opener against Guyana did was provide Boyd with a platform to properly introduce himself to fans who still don't know much about him.
In just his second appearance for the USMNT, Boyd scored a pair of goals and provided one of the clear-cut bright spots on a day when the Americans delivered as disjointed a 4-0 victory as you'll see.
The win over Guyana lacked fluidity for long stretches but ended up being one that did provide some bright spots to build on, and served as the Gold Cup tune-up morale booster the team was unable to produce in its pre-tournament friendlies.
Boyd wasn't just a bright spot because he scored two goals. He showed himself to be an effective wing option on a team in need of more reliable contributors on the flank, especially of the left-footed variety. USA boss Gregg Berhalter deployed Paul Arriola and Boyd as inverted wingers, with Arriola working on the left and Boyd operating on the right, with the tandem delivering three goals on the night.
Weston McKennie also looked sharp as the right-sided attacking midfielder in Berhalter's 4-3-3, providing his trademark work rate along with a sprinkling of dangerous passes that served to show why Berhalter wants him deployed further up the field rather than as a defensive midfielder.
Seeing McKennie hobble off with an apparently hamstring injury was certainly concerning, but the Schalke midfielder appeared to be in good spirits when he rejoined his teammates on the field after the match, a good sign the injury isn't as serious as it could have been.
It was a so-so performance for Christian Pulisic, at least well below the standard you would expect. That shouldn't come as a total surprise considering he's still working his way back into form after a post-Bundesliga season break, and considering he doesn't have many games under his belt with this group. A lack of familiarity was apparent, but that's something that should change as Pulisic gets more games with this group.
It wasn't an inspiring night for Gyasi Zardes, though he was once again on the receiving end of some good fortune in the form of a goal he scored but knew little about.
Zardes registered a goal when a shot from Arriola was deflected by a Guyana defender and ricocheted off an unsuspecting Zardes before going on. His good luck on that play didn't mask a largely underwhelming showing, where he struggled to time his runs well and failed to capitalize in the moments when the ball did find its way to him in the penalty area.
Starting Zardes over Jozy Altidore may have seemed like an odd choice, but given Altidore's injury history, particularly in tournaments, it made perfect sense to sit him in Tuesday's opener and give Zardes a start while keeping Altidore fresh for a much tougher test on Saturday against Trinidad and Tobago.
No, the USMNT's 4-0 win wasn't as impressive as Mexico's shellacking of Cuba but, aside from a forgettable first 25 minutes, the match checked many of the boxes Berhalter would have wanted to check in this match. The defense registered a shutout, Nick Lima impressed at right back, his inverted wingers produced, and some players working their way back from injuries (Michael Bradley and Aaron Long) logged some important minutes to help build-up their match fitness.
Now Berhalter and the USMNT can look ahead to Saturday's match against Trinidad & Tobago, a clash American players have circled on their calendars since the Gold Cup schedule was announced due to the revenge subplot tied to the same opponent that knocked the Americans out of World Cup qualifying 20 months ago.
Looking ahead to that match may have had some effect on how the Americans performed against Guyana, but while there were clearly aspects of the 4-0 victory that weren't impressive, you can't argue with the result, and you can't deny that several players boosted their national team stock in the victory. Most notably, Tyler Boyd.