Cleveland — Alejandro Bedoya can watch the rest of the CONCACAF Gold Cup after helping the U.S. avoid an embarrassing second-place finish in its group.
Bedoya set up goals by Joe Corona and Kelyn Rowe, and Matt Miazga’s close-range header in the 88th minute from Graham Zusi’s free kick gave the United States a 3-0 win over Nicaragua on Saturday night, just enough to leapfrog Panama for the Group B lead.
Bedoya is among six players on the 23-man roster who will be replaced for the knockout phase. His second child is due early next week.
“It’s tough, but this is something we have talked about,” Bedoya said. “As much as I would have loved to stay, we’re welcoming a new life.”
Goalkeeper Tim Howard and midfielder Michael Bradley watched from the stands and are among the players U.S. coach Bruce Arena added along with forwards Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore, midfielder Darlington Nagbe and goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez — whose approval to switch affiliation from Mexico to the U.S. was granted in late June.
“Alejandro is a very good player,” Arena said. “In this three- or four-week period that we’ve been together he continues to demonstrate that. He can play a number of positions and he’s a really versatile player. He does an excellent job.”
Panama’s 3-0 win over Martinique in the first match of the doubleheader meant the U.S. needed a three-goal win to move back over Los Canaleros into first. But the Americans struggled for long stretches against Nicaragua, a team ranked 105th by FIFA. They squandered opportunities when Dom Dwyer and Corona took poor penalty kicks in the second half that easily were saved by Justo Lorente.
“Give the goalkeeper for Nicaragua some credit — two penalty kick saves in a game isn’t bad — but we didn’t do well with our kicks,” Arena said. “It was a game where we wasted some opportunities and made it pretty difficult on ourselves. However, at the end I’m pretty proud of our team that they kept battling and they knew that they needed to get three goals in the game and they managed to do it in the end.”
Next up for the U.S. is a quarterfinal Wednesday in Philadelphia against a third-place team from another group, likely Honduras, El Salvador or Jamaica.