U.S. men capture first place in their CONCACAF Gold Cup group

Matt Miazga scored on a close-range header in the 88th minute, giving the United States first place in its CONCACAF Gold Cup group with a 3-0 victory over Nicaragua in Cleveland. Kelyn Rowe of Federal Way scored his first goal for the U.S. team.

CLEVELAND – Matt Miazga scored on a close-range header from Graham Zusi’s free kick in the 88th minute, giving the United States first place in its CONCACAF Gold Cup group with a 3-0 victory over Nicaragua on Saturday.

Panama’s 3-0 decision over Martinique in the first match of the doubleheader meant the U.S. team needed a three-goal margin to move back over Panama into first place. But the United States struggled for long stretches against Nicaragua, a team ranked 105th in the world by FIFA.

Joe Corona scored his first international goal in four years in the 37th minute and Kelyn Rowe, who is from Federal Way, doubled the lead in the 56th minute with his first international goal.

But the 35th-ranked U.S. team squandered opportunities when Dom Dwyer and Corona took poor penalty kicks in the second half that easily were saved by goalkeeper Justo Lorente.

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Nicaragua’s Luis Copete was ejected in the 86th minute for his second yellow card and Luis Galeano was receiving treatment for an injury, meaning the hosts had a two-man advantage when Zusi took his free kick from about 30 yards.

Miazga had an open header near a post and scored his first goal in three national-team appearances.

“It was kind of too good to be true,” he said. “I wasn’t really marked.”

The United States and Panama both finished with seven points and a plus-four goal difference from three matches, but the U.S. team won Group B based on a 7-6 edge in total goals.

The United States has won its group in 13 of 14 Gold Cups, finishing second to Panama in 2011.

Next up for the U.S. team is a quarterfinal Wednesday in Philadelphia against a…

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