U.S. players celebrate Matt Miazga’s 88th-minute goal.  (David Richard/USA TODAY Sports)

CLEVELAND — Matt Miazga could not have timed his first international goal any better Saturday night.

The former Red Bulls center back struck in the 88th minute to give the United States the margin it needed to win Group B as it recorded a 3-0 triumph over 10-man Nicaragua in the CONCACAF Gold Cup at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Miazga, who plays for Chelsea in the English Premier League, headed home a Graham Zuzi free kick from close range and secure the group crown after the Americans squandered two opportunities as they had two penalty kicks saved by goalkeeper Justo Lorente in the second half.

Making just his third #USMNT appearance, Matt Miazga's 88th minute header lifted the USA to a 3-0 win vs. Nicaragua and top spot in Gold Cup Group B. MORE: http://ussoc.cr/us3d

تم نشره بواسطة ‏‎U.S. Soccer‎‏ في 15 يوليو، 2017

Video courtesy of U.S. Soccer Facebook page

The U.S. (2-0-1, 7 points) will avoid playing Group A champion Costa Rica in the quarterfinals. Instead, the Americans will meet a third-place team from Group A or C in Philadelphia Wednesday night. The Nicaraguans, who played the final five minutes of the game a man down after Luis Copote was assessed his second yellow card, finished at 0-3-0.

“I would think that you could say we wasted some opportunities, and made it pretty difficult on ourselves,” U.S. coach Bruce Arena said. “However, in the end I’m pretty proud of our team that they kept battling, and they knew that they needed three goals in the game today and they managed to do it in the end.”

Midfielder Alejandro Bedoya set up the U.S.’s first goal in the 37th minute. He penetrated deep on the right side and sliced a cross to Joe Corona. The midfielder cut back and seemed to have taken too much time to shoot as he slotted the ball through several bodies and past Lorente for a 1-0 edge.

“I don’t really think we played particularly well in the first half,” Arena said. “Certainly we could have had a couple of goals. We didn’t look sharp. The field played a little slow, it was dry, but that’s not an excuse.

“I thought they played well,” Arena said. “But we didn’t do a good job passing the ball. We didn’t do a good job with our width. I think that improved in the second half.”

Five minutes into the second half, the Americans had a golden opportunity to double the lead after Marlon Lopez pulled down Sporting Kansas City striker Dom Dwyer in the penalty area. Dwyer’s penalty kick was saved by Lorente, who dove to his right to deny the striker an opportunity to become only the third U.S. player to score a goal in his first three international appearances.

New England Revolution midfielder Kelyn Rowe punctuated some outstanding combination play and passing to boost the U.S. into a 2-0 advantage in the 56th minute as he converted Bedoya’s pass from close range on the left side of the box for his first international goal in his third appearance.

Arena said that Rowe “is still a young player, and this is a whole new experience for him,” said Arena. “I think he’s done fine over the three weeks. He certainly needs more experience at the club level and the international level. He has shown well for himself.”

Lorente frustrated the Americans again in the 63rd minute as he saved his second penalty — after a handball in the area — denying Corona’s chance at a double.

“Give the goalkeeper for Nicaragua credit, two penalty kick saves isn’t bad in a game,” Arena said. “Give them credit there, we didn’t do well with our [spot] kicks. At the end of the day we still came out on top, and I’m pleased with that.”

U.S. goalkeeper Bill Hamid was tested twice — parrying away Bismarck Veliz’s shot in the 39th minute and saving Juan Barrera’s attempt in the 74th minute.

 

Scoring Summary: 

USA – Joe Corona (Alejandro Bedoya)         37th minute
USA – Kelyn Rowe (Alejandro Bedoya)        56
USA – Matt Miazga (Graham Zusi)                88

Lineups:
USA:­ 12-Bill Hamid; 19-Graham Zusi, 4-Matt Miazga, 5-Matt Besler, 2-Jorge Villafaña; 13-Dax McCarty; 7-Chris Pontius, 11-Alejandro Bedoya (capt.), 10-Joe Corona (8-Jordan Morris, 66), 6-Kelyn Rowe (20-Paul Arriola, 62); 14-Dom Dwyer (18-Juan Agudelo, 74)
Subs not used1-Brad Guzan, 3-Omar Gonzalez, 9-Gyasi Zardes; 15-Eric Lichaj, 16-Justin Morrow; 17-Cristian Roldan, 21-Matt Hedges, 22-Sean Johnson, 23-Kellyn Acosta
Head coach: Bruce Arena

NCA: 1-Justo Lorente; 2-Josue Quijano, 22-Cyril Errington, 6-Luis Copete, 17-Bismarck Véliz (4-Henry Niño, 69); 13-Bryan García (14-Eulises Pavón, 69),8-Marlon López, 19-Luis Peralta (21-Jorge Hurtado, 46); 11-Juan Barrera; 9-Daniel Cadena, 10-Luis Galeano
Subs not used: 23-Henry Maradiaga, 12-Diedrich Téllez20-Oscar López, 3-Manuel Rosas, 5-Erick Tellez, 16-Elvis Figueroa, 18-Maykel Montiel, 15-Bismarck Montiel
Not Available: 7-Carlos Chavarría
Head Coach: Henry Duarte

Stats Summary: USA / NCA
Shots: 16 / 6
Shots on Goal: 10 / 2
Saves: 2 / 7
Corner Kicks: 6 / 5
Fouls: 16 / 14
Offside: 3 / 4

Misconduct Summary:
NCA – Luis Peralta (caution)                 15th minute
NCA – Marlon Lopez (caution)              42
NCA – Luis Copete (caution)                 51
NCA – Joe Corona (caution)                 59
NCA – Luis Copete (caution)                 85
NCA – Luis Copete (sent off)                85

Officials: 
Referee: Melvin Matamoros (HON)
Assistant Referee 1: Christian Ramirez (HON)
Assistant Referee 2: Ainsley Rochard (TRI)
Fourth Official: Oscar Moncada (HON)

Man of the Match: Alejandro Bedoya