CLEVELAND, Ohio – In the last Group B game of the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup, a team with the most wins in tournament history will face off against a side that is still searching for its first.
The United States (52 Gold Cup wins) can clinch first-place on Saturday, when it meets already-eliminated Nicaragua at FirstEnergy Stadium.
It will be interesting to see the line-up that U.S. head coach Bruce Arena employs. In Wednesday’s 3-2 victory over Martinique, he made eight changes to the side that drew 1-1 in Panama. Only goalkeeper Brad Guzan, defender Omar Gonzalez and midfielder Kellyn Acosta retained their places, with Gonzalez scoring his second-ever goal in the competition.
The main question is if forward Dom Dwyer, who netted against Panama, will return to the starting XI. A partnership between the Sporting Kansas City star and Jordan Morris, who struck for a brace against Martinique, has the potential to be menacing to opposing defenses.
Nicaragua will be weakened without Carlos Chavarria in the lineup. The 23-year-old attacker scored the Pinoleros’ first-ever Gold Cup goal in a 2-1 loss to Panama on Wednesday, but is suspended due to yellow card accumulation.
Here are some storylines to watch:
- The U.S. has no previous meetings with Nicaragua. Will that lack of familiarity be a help or a hindrance?
- After conceding three goals in two games, what changes will Arena make to the U.S. defense?
- Nicaragua is still searching for its first-ever Gold Cup win. The idea of achieving that feat against a five-time champion should provide great motivation.
- Without Chavarria, who will step up for Nicaragua on the offensive end of the field? Will Barrera or Cadena get their first Gold Cup goals?