While the USMNT did not get the Gold Cup off to a great start against Panama on Saturday, it was going to be alright because the next two opponents were Martinique and Nicaragua, teams that the U.S. should score a ton of goals against and cruise past without much effort.
The Americans (2-0-1) finished tied with Panama (2-0-1) in points and goal differential but ahead on total goals (7-6) in the 12-team regional competition.
Jordan Morris was about the only bright spot in the USA win on Wednesday night.
Nicaragua is coming off a 2-1 loss to Panama on Wednesday, striker Carlos Chavarria scored the team’s first Gold Cup goal. The top two teams in each of the three four-team groups, plus the two best third-place finishers, advance to the quarterfinals. If the US wanted to avoid a game against the feared team of Costa Rica, it would need to penetrate the defense at least once more. It was a largely J.V. group that got the US here, opening with a 1-1 tie against Panama, wasting a two-goal lead against Martinique before winning 3-2 and of course the most impressive showing against Nicaragua.
Hosts the U.S. enjoyed an equally comfortable victory over Nicaragua, with Joe Corona’s low shot giving them a first half lead.
The U.S. received a great opportunity to increase its lead on the other side of halftime when a well-worked combination between Corona, Dwyer and Chris Pontius led to a U.S. penalty kick, but Dwyer’s 51st minute attempt was well-read by Nicaragua ‘keeper Justo Lorente in the 51st minute. In the 56th minute, Zusi forced an errant pass that Bedoya intercepted and played to Dwyer. It was a fine moment for the New England Revolution star, Rowe’s first goal with the national team.
The biggest difference? The U.S. easily won possession whenever Nicaragua was on the ball.
Bedoya, in a man of the match worthy performance, would add another assist and draw a penalty against Nicaragua.
“It was kind of too good to be true”, Miazga said. “As much as I would have loved to stay, we’re welcoming a new life”.
Granted his one-time change of association request by FIFA earlier this month, Gonzalez will take part in his first U.S. MNT camp. The USA has not lifted a Gold Cup since 2013 but that might change now that they have passed through to the next phase of the tournament. It came on a day when coach Bruce Arena made complete set of 11 changes to his lineup, though numerous same problems and strengths persisted in the win. Decisions must be made within 24 hours of a team’s final group game. Maybe that’s why Bruce Arena is calling in some big-name reinforcements, including Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, and Tim Howard.