July 14, 2017

The Semper Soccer Blog USA vs. Nicaragua 2017 Gold Cup Preview

Two matches complete, one to play for the USA in Gold Cup Group B. The scene for game three is Cleveland, Ohio at FirstEnergy Stadium. There, the United States faces an international opponent they’ve never played before. Nicaragua awaits and the U.S. has everything left to play for. After a draw and a win in their first two games, the American side is still looking to clinch their way into the knockout rounds. The Semper Soccer blog is here to get you prepared with the USA vs. Nicaragua 2017 Gold Cup preview.

Last Time Out

Two goals from Jordan Morris sealed a U.S. victory over Martinique in Group B game two as we head into the USA vs. Nicaragua 2017 Gold Cup preview.

Two goals from Jordan Morris sealed a U.S. victory over Martinique in Group B game two.

After opening the group stage with a draw against Panama, the USMNT knew they needed a win against Martinique on Wednesday night. Well, they got one. But it certainly didn’t happen as expected. The two teams slogged through the first half on a rain-soaked field in Tampa. It was clear they saved the excitement for the second half. The USA and Martinique combined to score five goals in just 23 minutes. Omar Gonzalez poked home a rebound to give the Stars & Stripes a 1-0 lead in the 53rd minute. Everything looked to be going the US’s way when Jordan Morris doubled the lead in the 64th.

Then, Kévin Parsemain came to life for Martinique. With the help of some shaky defending and goalkeeping, Parsemain scored in the 66th and 74th to tie the game at two goals apiece. The response for the United States was swift as Morris tallied his second of the night in the 76th minute and it stood as the game winner.

Earlier that evening, Nicaragua suffered their second defeat in as many Gold Cup matches with a 2-1 loss to Panama. They actually got out to a lead through a Carlos Chavarría goal in the 49th minute. Panama struck back quickly with goals in the 50th and 57th to seal the win. The loss dropped Nicaragua’s Group B record to no wins, two losses and no draws with four goals allowed to just one goal scored. However, they can still advance out of this group.

The Matchup

Our USA vs. Nicaragua 2017 Gold Cup preview doesn’t include any history. These two teams have never played. Saturday, Nicaragua becomes the 97th different international side the United States has played.

After their first two results were greeted with varying levels of disappointment, this match-up is ideal for the United States. Nicaragua has played as the worst team in Group B thus far. The U.S. squad is under plenty of pressure to dominate this game from start to finish. And they should. Bruce Arena’s team has more creativity and speed in the attacking part of the field. Nicaragua’s defense has shown it will fold if you put it under enough pressure. They will see the majority of the ball so if they eliminate turnovers and connect their passes in the final third, there are goals to be had.

U.S. fans will also expect to see a stronger defense. Nicaragua has only scored one goal through two games. The two back line configurations so far have been underwhelming. Sure, they only gave up one goal against Panama but they gave up plenty of other chances. And allowing two more against Martinique hasn’t sat well with players, coaches or fans. Every advantage across the board is in the United States’ favor so it’s time to capitalize.

The USA vs. Nicaragua 2017 Gold Cup Preview Projected Lineup

Bruce Arena planned to go into this tournament and play as many of his players as he could. That’s his preferred way of auditioning talent for the rest of the year and into next summer. With 20 of the 23 players on the roster having played, lineups are difficult to predict. Defender Matt Miazga and goalkeepers Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson are the only three players who haven’t played. But this is crunch time and the USA needs to clinch their way into the quarterfinals. We predict Arena will stick with the 4-4-2 formation and piece in his players who have played the best through this camp as well as the names he trusts to step up and do the job.

USA vs. Nicaragua 2017 Gold Cup Preview projected lineup

USA vs. Nicaragua 2017 Gold Cup Preview projected lineup

The Prediction

Time’s up for the United States. This is the most favorable matchup of the group stage. They still need to clinch their spot in the knockout rounds. Nicaragua can also still advance through this group. They need to win here to have a chance. The USA is not going to let that happen. Panama and Martinique kick off first so if Panama wins, the U.S. will know they need to win and how many goals they need to score in order to finish in first place in their group. And the difference is huge. If they win Group B, they earn a quarterfinal game against a third-place finisher. If they finish second, they’ll face the Group A winner. This game is vital and everyone around the team knows it. Look for the United States to put on their most complete performance. Our pick: 4-0, USA.

How To Watch

Date/Time: July 15, 7:00 p.m. Eastern, 6:00 p.m. Central

TV: FXX, Univision

Watch Parties: Find your local American Outlaws chapter and enjoy the game together.

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