A total of seven players on the field today for the USMNT were graduates of U.S. Soccer's Development Academy Program, including all three goal scorers. There was plenty of times during their 3-0 win over Nicaragua where they looked really bad. "We told the players we had to win by three goals".
In many ways, the US men's national soccer team did not deserve to finish atop Group B in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
They will hope to become one of the two best third place finishers, which would see them advance.
The US team overcame a grueling resistance in the 3-2 win over Martinique on Wednesday. A lackluster showing in a 1-1 draw with Panama in Nashville to open the tournament was followed by an inauspicious performance bordering on historic embarrassment, a fortuitous 3-2 victory over Martinique in Tampa Bay.
And five minutes later the USA had another chance to score from the penalty spot after Daniel Cadena was whistled for handling the ball, but again Lorente made a huge save, this time denying Corona.
The U.S. roster includes two players who played on the high school level in San Diego County - midfielders Paul Arriola (Mater Dei Catholic High) and Joe Corona (Sweetwater High).
Missed penalties happen but it does beg the question: Is there a designated penalty taker on the team or does Arena let the players decide? Bedoya exchanged passes with Dwyer, then fed Rowe, who scored with the outside of his boot from inside the penalty area. The New England Revolution attacking midfielder has proved very effective thus far, creating chances and being involved and always looking to pounce.
The biggest difference? The U.S. easily won possession whenever Nicaragua was on the ball. Instead of guaranteeing himself Man of the Match honors, Corona saw his attempt from twelve yards meet an identical fate to that of Dwyer.
"It was kind of too good to be true", Miazga said. "We were a bit unlucky with the penalties, but we knew if we kept knocking on the door that something would come". Arena got just what he wanted.
With the USA dominating most of the match, Besler had few chances to shine.
Each team is allowed to make up to six changes in the 24 hours after finishing the group stage, and the additions must come from the 40-man preliminary roster submitted in early June.