CLEVELAND, Ohio – Defender Matt Miazga scored in the 88th minute to give the United States the margin of victory it required to capture first place in Group B with a 3-0 victory over Nicaragua in the CONCACAF Gold Cup at FirstEnergy Stadium on Saturday night.
After Panama topped Martinique, 3-0, earlier in the day to move provisionally atop the table, the Americans needed to win by three goals in order to avoid a quarterfinal meeting with Costa Rica.
The U.S. had two penalty kicks saved by Nicaragua goalkeeper Justo Lorente, but Miazga’s late header – off a Graham Zusi free kick – settled matters. Opening knockout round opposition will be the third-place team from either Group A or C in Philadelphia on Wednesday.
Alejandro Bedoya set-up the first goal in the 37th minute, slicing a right-wing cross to Joe Corona. The midfielder cut back, slotting the ball through several bodies for a 1-0 edge.
Five minutes into the second half, Nicaragua’s Marlon Lopez pulled down Dom Dwyer in the box to concede a penalty kick. Dwyer took it himself, but Lorente dove to his right to deny the Sporting Kansas City star.
Kelyn Rowe punctuated a tremendous passing sequence to boost the U.S. into a 2-0 advantage in the 56th minute, finishing from close range in the left side of the box for his first international goal in his third appearance. Once again, it was man of the match Bedoya providing the service.
Lorente saved his second penalty -- after a handball in the area -- denying Corona in the 63rd minute.
Nicaragua (0W-0D-3L) played the final five minutes a man down after Luis Copete was issued his second yellow card.