IMAGE: Bill USA 2017

Bill Hamid and USMNT defeat Nicaragua, win Group B

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 the group for the 13th time in 14 CONCACAF Gold Cup tournaments and will now play El Salvador in 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 they 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. 

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 62nd minute. 

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. Goalkeeper Bill Hamid also made his CONCACAF Gold Cup debut and first start since 2014, earning his second international shutout.

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