Panama cruises past Martinique to reach Gold Cup quarterfinals


Panama cruises past Martinique to reach Gold Cup quarterfinals

The United States wraps up group play in the Gold Cup Saturday with a match in Cleveland against Nicaragua.

Bruce Arena made 11 changes to his starting lineup from Wednesday's 3-2 win over Martinique, re-inserting Sporting KC's American trio of Matt Besler (42 caps), Dom Dwyer (3 caps) and Graham Zusi (51 caps).

With the three-goal margin of victory, the USA clinched the group over Panama, which also collected the same seven-point haul during group play.

Joe Corona opened the scoring in the 36th minute, finishing a strong run in the box around several defenders with a low shot that deflected past Nicaragua's Justo Lorente into the back of the net.

In many ways, the US men's national soccer team did not deserve to finish atop Group B in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Panama will play Costa Rica in Philadelphia on Wednesday night.

Martinique can still advance as the third-placed team in Group B if El Salvador lose to Jamaica by two goals or more and Mexico avoids defeat to Curacao by the same margin on Sunday. Bedoya intercepted a pass deep in Nicaragua's end and tried working a combination with Dwyer. His through ball to the feet of Kelyn Rowe set up the New England Revolution man with a great chance from six yards, and he finished at the near post. It took a slight deflection and beat Lorente to the near corner for Rowe's first worldwide goal.

The U.S. MNT will now wait for the final Group C matches to conclude before learning their quarterfinal opponent.

But the second goal came just seven minutes later, with Bedoya providing the assist once again.

When play resumed, Zusi sent a flawless free kick that the former Red Bulls defender Miazga ran on to inside the six-yard box at the near post and planted a header past Lorente to make the score 3-0 and give the US the margin it needed to capture Group B and avoid a quarterfinal against Costa Rica on Wednesday night.

Dwyer was dragged down by Marlon Lopez for the first spot-kick, but the forward's penalty was too narrow and at a good height for Lorente.