Soccer Picks: USA and Nicaragua Complete Group C CONCACAF Round Robin
The Gold Cup is getting ready to shift into the knockout stage next week with teams playing their final group games this weekend. In Group B Panama and the USA tied last week and won their follow up games by one goal. The US is in first on the strength of more goals scored.
Panama will play Martinique in the early game, so the USA will also have the advantage of knowing what will be needed of them in order to secure top spot in the group.
USA got a much stiffer test than expected against Martinique on Wednesday. The Americans took a 2-0 lead, but were held scoreless until the 54th minute. And in that time the two teams traded some glorious opportunities. Martinique showed a lot of character and Kevin Parsemain who had been denied earlier in the match stepped up to score two goals in ten minutes and tie up the score. But Jordan Morris came through for the USA, scoring the second goal and then the eventual winner as well moments after Martinique had tied it.
Team USA has not yet looked like a team good enough to win it all, but that is clearly by design. Coach Bruce Arena has played 19 of his 20 players in the first two games and even sat Dom Dwyer. Dwyer scored the lone goal versus Panama and scored in the friendly with Ghana the week earlier.
Nicaragua might be the largest country in Latin America, but they are not a soccer nation. Evidence of that comes in the fact that the goal they scored in their 2-1 loss to Panama on Wednesday was the first they’d ever scored in this competition and this is only the second time they qualified in 13 editions of the Gold Cup.
It also so happens that goal gave them the lead versus Panama, but it was short lived. The teams were scoreless in the first half before Carlos Chavarria gave Nicaragua the lead in the 48th minute. Ismael Diaz and company needed two minutes to respond with an equalizer and Gabriel Torres got the winner seven minutes later.
The teams traded chances down the stretch, but that was the end of the scoring.
Cash It In: Team USA are -575 favorites, Nicaragua +1800 underdogs and the draw sits at +600. Nicaragua needs a win to have any chance of advancing to the next stage, but it’s hard to imagine them coming close. USA needs a solid showing not only to build confidence, but in all likelihood (assuming Panama beats Martinique) to ensure they face a third-place team in the Quarterfinals. USA 3-0.
Soccer Expert Picks: Team USA -575