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USMNT blanks Nicaragua 3-0 to win CONCACAF Gold Cup group

CLEVELAND (Via U.S. Soccer) – The U.S. Men’s National Team utilized goals from Joe Corona, Kelyn Rowe and Matt Miazga to earn a 3-0 victory against Nicaragua in front of 27,934 fans at FirstEnergy Stadium. With the win, the U.S. MNT finishes on top of its group for the 13th time in 14 CONCACAF Gold Cup tournaments and will await Sunday’s Group C results to learn its opponent for Wednesday’s Quarterfinal in Philadelphia.

Having seen Panama earn a 3-0 victory against Martinique in the day’s first match, the USA went into Saturday night’s encounter knowing it needed a three-goal win of its own in order to finish on top of Group B. With that knowledge, the USA came out flying all over the field, but saw four great chances from Kelyn Rowe, Alejandro Bedoya, Dom Dwyer and Graham Zusi go begging through the first 20 minutes.

+WATCH HIGHLIGHTS

Just as it seemed like Nicaragua had settled in, the U.S. took advantage in the 38th minute when a nice buildup between Dax McCarty and Dwyer led to Bedoya breaking through down the right. The veteran winger centered a low ball which found Corona at the top of the box where he took a touch and fired a driven effort which partially deflected off a Nicaragua defender before tucking inside the lower left post.

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.

The U.S. was undeterred and got its second goal when Bedoya fed Rowe into the left side of the box, allowing the winger to slot his first international goal inside the near post in the 56th minute.

Nicaragua was called for a second penalty when Juan Barrera’s slide in the box led to the midfielder handling the ball. This time, Corona stepped up, but his attempt was also carved out by Lorente, who registered an incredible second penalty save in the 62ndminute.

The U.S. would finally get the necessary third goal in the 88th minute. Luis Copete was shown a second yellow card for a foul outside the area, leading to a Zusi free kick. The veteran defender swung his effort to the back post where Miazga headed home his first international goal, clinching the 3-0 victory.

A total of seven players on the field today for the USMNT were graduates of U.S. Soccer’s Development Academy Program, including all three goal scorers.

2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup Group B – Final Standings
TEAM GP W L D Pts. GF GA GD
USA 3 2 0 1 7 7 3 +4
Panama 3 2 0 1 7 6 2 +4
Martinique 3 1 2 0 3 4 6 -2
Nicaragua 3 0 3 0 0 1 7 -6


Next on the Schedule: 
The U.S. MNT awaits Sunday’s Group C results, which will dictate who it faces in the Quarterfinals on Wednesday, July 19 in Philadelphia. Kickoff time and TV information is still to be determined.

Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Joe Corona (Alejandro Bedoya), 37th minute: 
After a ton of pressure, the U.S. finally broke through off a nice series of passes. Dax McCarty played forward out of the back for Dom Dwyer, who glanced a touch into the path of Alejandro Bedoya down the right wing. Bedoya broke free before centering a low cross that found Joe Corona at the top just outside the box. The midfielder took a touch into the area before cutting back and unleashing a low blast that partially deflected off Bismarck Veliz before tucking inside the lower left corner. USA 1, NCA 0 [WATCH]

USA – Kelyn Rowe (Alejandro Bedoya), 56th minute: The U.S. MNT kept its head up following Dwyer’s saved penalty and saw high pressure lead to the game’s second goal. Graham Zusi closed in on Bryan Garcia, whose pass at the back was then intercepted by Bedoya. His first touch fell for Dwyer, but it was tackled away back into Bedoya’s where he fed Kelyn Rowe’s run down the left. The U.S. midfielder took a touch into the box before slotting home his first international goal inside the near post. USA 2, NCA 0 [WATCH]

USA – Matt Miazga (Graham Zusi), 88th minute: With the time ticking away, the U.S. got the needed third goal through an unlikely candidate. After a second yellow card was shown to Luis Copete for a foul outside the area, Zusi stepped up and swung his free kick towards the left post where Miazga was the trailing runner. The young center back came through unmarked and dove to slot his header past Lorente. USA 3, NCA 0 [WATCH]

Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
NCA – Justo Lorente, 9th minute: Kelyn Rowe’s looping cross from the left found Chris Pontius who headed back across the area. A failed Nicaragua clearance fell for Rowe who hit a rocketing half volley that Lorente was equal to.  

NCA – Luis Copete and Justo Lorente, 15th minute: Playing in transition, Jorge Villafaña swung a ball from the left to find Pontius at the top of the area. There, he nodded into the path of his Philadelphia Union teammate Alejandro Bedoya, whose quick hit was blocked by Copete. The ball fell for Dom Dwyer on the left, but his attempt turned away as Lorente alertly came off his line.

NCA – Justo Lorente, 20th minute: Zusi did well to intercept a Nicaragua pass just past the midfield stripe and quickly pushed forward. The U.S. right back went on an impressive 40-yard run, evading multiple Nicaragua players to get into the box before finding space on the left to unleash a shot that Lorente did well to hold on to.

USA – Bill Hamid, 38th minute: Just after the U.S. broke through, Nicaragua nearly pulled the goal back when Juan Barrera fed Bismarck Veliz on the left, leaving the defender an open look which saw Hamid push the effort over his crossbar.

NCA – Justo Lorente, 51st minute: A nice passing sequence between Dwyer, Corona and Pontius saw the U.S. forward dragged down in the box, forcing a penalty kick. Dwyer stepped up confidently and tried to slot the ball inside the left post, but Lorente read it well, making an impressive diving stop to hold the U.S. to just a one-goal advantage.

NCA – Justo Lorente, 62nd minute: Bedoya earned a penalty kick when Juan Barrera was judged to handle the ball in the box. This time Corona stepped up, but his low attempt was straight down the middle, allowing Lorente another save. Chris Pontius pounced on the rebound, but the Nicaragua ‘keeper was quick off his line to turn away the follow-up attempt.

USA – Bill Hamid, 74th minute: A shot from distance by Juan Barrera saw Bill Hamid sprawl out to his right to make the diving stop. The ‘keeper then got up quickly to pounce on the rebound as substitute Jorge Hurtado was there lurking on the doorstep.

NOTES:

  • The U.S. MNT extends its unbeaten streak to 11 matches, going 6-0-5 since Bruce Arena returned as head coach.
  • A total of seven players on the field today for the USMNT were graduates of U.S. Soccer’s Development Academy Program, including all three goal scorers.
  • Joe Corona’s 37th minute goal was the third of his international career and came nearly four years to the date of his last which occurred in the USA’s 5-1 Gold Cup Quarterfinal win vs. El Salvador on July 21, 2013.
  • Both Kelyn Rowe (62’) and Matt Miazga (88’) recorded their first international goals.
  • Bedoya recorded the 10th and 11th assists of his international career and now sits tied with Fabian Johnson, Alexi Lalas and John Harkes for 12th on the MNT’s all-time list.
  • Bedoya also record his fifth and sixth all-time assists in the Gold Cup, tying him with Eric Wynalda for second on the MNT’s all-time list.
  • Graham Zusi’s 88th minute assist was the seventh of his international career.
  • Bruce Arena made 11 changes to the team that started against Martinique on Wednesday.
  • Arena utilized 22 of the 23 players on the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup roster through the first three games of the tournament. It is the fourth time the USA has used 22 or more players during the Gold Cup Group Stage (2005, 2007, 2009 and 2017).
  • Each making their third U.S. MNT appearances, goalkeeper Bill Hamid and defender Matt Miazga earned their Gold Cup debuts.
  • Appearing in his first match since Nov. 18, 2014 at the Republic of Ireland, Hamid made two saves to earn his second career clean sheet.
  • After coming off the bench against Martinique, Chris Pontius earned his first start of the Gold Cup and fourth cap overall tonight.
  • Defender Jorge Villafaña made his team-leading ninth appearance of 2017.
  • Miazga and veteran Matt Besler partnered together in central defense together for the first time.
  • Graham Zusi started his sixth game at right back for the U.S. MNT in 2017.
  • Saturday’s match was the first meeting between the USA and Nicaragua. Los Pinoleros Albiazules are the 97th different national team the U.S. MNT has faced since beginning play in 1916.
  • The USA has more wins in the CONCACAF Gold Cup than any other nation, going 53-8-9 all-time.
  • The U.S. has gone an impressive 32-1-4 during the Group Stage.
  • With a 16-1-4 record in the Gold Cup, Arena is also the winningest head coach all-time in the competition.
  • The U.S. manager holds an 10-0-2 mark in the Group Stage and is 14-0-4 overall vs. CONCACAF opposition.
  • Tournament regulations dictate that teams can make up to six changes in the 24 hours following their final Group Stage match.

– U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report –

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Nicaragua
Date: July 15, 2017
Competition: 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup; Group B
Venue: FirstEnergy Stadium; Cleveland, Ohio
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Attendance: 27,934
Weather: 74 degrees; sunny

Scoring Summary:   1          2          F
USA                              1          2          3
NCA                             0          0          0

USA – Joe Corona (Alejandro Bedoya)          37th minute
USA – Kelyn Rowe (Alejandro Bedoya)         56
USA – Matt Miazga (Graham Zusi)                88

Lineups:
USA:­ 12-Bill Hamid; 19-Graham Zusi, 4-Matt Miazga, 5-Matt Besler, 2-Jorge Villafaña; 13-Dax McCarty; 7-Chris Pontius, 11-Alejandro Bedoya (capt.), 10-Joe Corona (8-Jordan Morris, 66), 6-Kelyn Rowe (20-Paul Arriola, 62); 14-Dom Dwyer (18-Juan Agudelo, 74)
Subs not used1-Brad Guzan, 3-Omar Gonzalez, 9-Gyasi Zardes; 15-Eric Lichaj, 16-Justin Morrow; 17-Cristian Roldan, 21-Matt Hedges,22-Sean Johnson, 23-Kellyn Acosta
Head coach: Bruce Arena

NCA: 1-Justo Lorente; 2-Josue Quijano, 22-Cyril Errington, 6-Luis Copete, 17-Bismarck Véliz (4-Henry Niño, 69); 13-Bryan García (14-Eulises Pavón, 69),8-Marlon López, 19-Luis Peralta (21-Jorge Hurtado, 46); 11-Juan Barrera; 9-Daniel Cadena, 10-Luis Galeano
Subs not used: 23-Henry Maradiaga, 12-Diedrich Téllez20-Oscar López, 3-Manuel Rosas, 5-Erick Tellez, 16-Elvis Figueroa, 18-Maykel Montiel, 15-Bismarck Montiel
Not Available: 7-Carlos Chavarría
Head Coach: Henry Duarte

Stats Summary: USA / NCA
Shots: 16 / 6
Shots on Goal: 10 / 2
Saves: 2 / 7
Corner Kicks: 6 / 5
Fouls: 16 / 14
Offside: 3 / 4

Misconduct Summary:
NCA – Luis Peralta (caution)                    15th minute
NCA – Marlon Lopez (caution)                 42
NCA – Luis Copete (caution)                    51
USA – Joe Corona (caution)                    59
NCA – Luis Copete (caution)                    85
NCA – Luis Copete (sent off)                   85

Officials:
Referee: Melvin Matamoros (HON)
Assistant Referee 1: Christian Ramirez (HON)
Assistant Referee 2: Ainsley Rochard (TRI)
Fourth Official: Oscar Moncada (HON)

Man of the Match: Alejandro Bedoya