United States tops Nicaragua, finishes atop Group B in Gold Cup

Gold Cup U.S. Soccer Bruce Arena

The United States recorded a 3-0 win over Nicaragua to secure top spot in its group at the CONCACAF Gold Cup on Sunday (AEST).

The Americans opened the tournament with a disappointing draw against Panama, and they barely eeked out a win against Martinique. Panama will play Costa Rica in Philadelphia on Wednesday night. Both the United States and Panama ended group play with goal differentials of plus-4, with the next tiebreaker being total goal scored.

At this stage of group play, getting the win was the most important thing for the United States.

The top two teams in each of the three first-round groups and the top two third-place countries advance to the quarterfinals. The changes included D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid, whose previous appearance came in November 2014 against Ireland. 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. The hosts had the chance to put the game away four minutes into the second half after forward Dom Dwyer was ruled to have been taken down in the penalty area by Nicaragua's Marlon Lopez. Bedoya intercepted a pass deep in Nicaragua's end and tried working a combination with Dwyer. Dwyer's penalty, unfortunately for the USMNT, was saved.

Kelyn Rowe made it 2-0 when he finished from a nice assist from Alejandro Bedoya in the 56th minute.

Arena turned to his bench, inserting Jordan Morris (two goals vs. Martinique) and Juan Agudelo in place of the failed penalty takers. With it looking like the USA might end up finishing second in group play to Panama on goal difference, Miazga scored on a header from a free kick in the 88th minute to grab hold of the group and ensure the USMNT finished on top.

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