PREVIEW: US Men's National Soccer Team Set To Square Off With Nicaragua Tonight
16 July, 2017, 04:47
Panama (2-0-1, seven points) holds a two-goal advantage over the second-place United States (1-0-1, four points), which needs to defeat last-place Nicaragua (0-2-0) by at least three goals on Saturday to finish atop Group B. Martinique fell to 1-2-0.
Martinique scored two goals in a span of eight minutes to square things 2-2 against the United States before Jordan Morris was able to bail the Americans out with the game-winning score in the 76th minute. Instead Panama will face the Ticos.
With Panama's 3-0 victory over Martinique earlier in the day, Team USA knew coming into the showdown with Nicaragua it needed to win by at least three goals to claim the top spot in Group B. The pressure was lessened since the US had already secured a spot in the knockout phase. All three started the group stage opener against Panama. The changes included D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid, whose previous appearance came in November 2014 against Ireland. They weren't in danger of conceding a goal, but they weren't exactly threatening to smash the 13th-best team in CONCACAF, according to FIFA's rankings. Graham Zusi found the captain Alejandro Bedoya on the right flank. Corona, the late runner, took one touch forward and a pair of touches to his right to dodge two defenders.
Shortly after the restart, Dom Dwyer earned a penalty for the U.S., but his subsequent spot kick was blocked by Nicaragua goalkeeper Justo Lorente. His low effort from 15 yards struck the hand of a sliding foe, Bismarck Veliz, and skidded into the left corner for his first goal since the 2013 Gold Cup against El Salvador.
Five minutes later, the Americans made no mistakes. In the 56th minute, Zusi forced an errant pass that Bedoya intercepted and played to Dwyer.
The U.S. quickly atoned for the penalty miss when Kelyn Rowe scored his first worldwide goal, in the 56th minute, from a lovely shot with the outside of his right foot, that took a deflection and slipped inside the near post for a 2-0 lead. It took a slight deflection and beat Lorente to the near corner for Rowe's first global goal. Dwyer's penalty, unfortunately for the USMNT, was saved.
When play resumed, Zusi sent a flawless free kick that the former Red Bulls defender Miazga ran on to inside the six-yard box at the near post and planted a header past Lorente to make the score 3-0 and give the US the margin it needed to capture Group B and avoid a quarterfinal against Costa Rica on Wednesday night.
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