This particular Gold Cup hasn’t been great so far for the United States Men’s National Team, and a relatively lackluster performance in the group stage finale against lowly Nicaragua failed to change that. But, the USMNT did pull out the win, and moreover they did it with a 3-0 scoreline, winning the group over Panama via tiebreaker and ensuring they won’t have to face Costa Rica in the quarterfinal round.
The Americans left it late, though. Joe Corona somehow scored this goal late in the first half to put the United States up 1-0:
Dom Dwyer won a penalty, and stepped to the spot to attempt the conversion:
Oof. Dwyer nailed it with pace, but didn’t exactly deceive the keeper there.
Then a decent build-up found Kelyn Rowe (one of the tournament’s bright spots so far) who put a shot on target with a tight bit of control and was rewarded with a deflection goal:
But 2-0 wasn’t enough to win the group, and the Americans knew it. A handball in the box resulted in another American penalty opportunity, this time taken by Joe Corona:
Maybe try something else next time, guys?
But, after an undeniable red card reduced Nicaragua to 10 men late, the United States won another dangerous free kick, and Graham Zusi’s delivery found a diving Matt Miazga:
And that ended up being the difference, as the USA held on for a 3-0 victory, winning the group in the process. Granted, it was another example of this makeshift squad playing down to their competition, and aside from a few players, the squad still doesn’t appear threatening. Maybe that’s why Bruce Arena is calling in some big-name reinforcements, including Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, and Tim Howard.
Whether that’s enough to win the Gold Cup remains to be seen, but it will be interesting to see how the squad’s shape and play changes with the influx of talent for the knockout rounds.