USA vs. Nicaragua in Gold Cup: Takeaways as USMNT wins to reach quarterfinals
The U.S. men’s national team scored a big victory on Saturday in the Gold Cup group stage, beating Nicaragua 3-0 to win Group B and move on. Here are three takeaways from the match.
Big moment for Miazga
There was plenty of hype surrounding Matt Miazga after his surprise move to Chelsea in 2016, but after just two appearances and going on loan to Vitesse, he had become a forgotten man. But Bruce Arena calls him up, he gets the start in the third match and rewards Arena with the goal that clinched the group.
Just 21 years old, Miazga produced a brilliant header to finish off Nicaragua, but at the back, his main job, he was quality as well. He has great size at 6 feet, 4 inches, and he used that size to head out dangerous balls and had some well-timed tackles. Arena got just what he wanted.
Poor penalty kicks a concern
Joe Corona and Dom Dwyer each missed a penalty kick. Not the end of the world, but execution was so poor. The ball wasn’t placed well to the corner and made Nicaragua’s goalkeeper look like a star rather than just an average CONCACAF goalkeeper. Know headed into the knockout stages that this could be a blessing or a curse. Corona and Dwyer, if they play, will likely be penalty kick takers if a shootout is needed the rest of the way. Will Saturday’s experience be in their head or will it fuel them to improve their precision if they get the chance again?
Huge to avoid Costa Rica
The U.S. likely extended its time in the Cup by getting this result. Had it finished second and played Costa Rica in the quarters, I’m not so sure the U.S. would advance. Costa Rica has been the top team in the Cup, looking sharp for most of its first three matches, even with injuries. Considering the Ticos are jelling and the U.S. isn’t, it was essential to get the three-goal win and face likely El Salvador, Honduras or Jamaica in the next round — any of which the U.S. should beat.