In the first half against Panama, Kelyn Rowe was one of the few players who offered a creative solution for the United States.
Early in the second half, Rowe was able to create a half chance for Dom Dwyer to give the Americans a short lived lead as the two sides played out to a 1-1 draw from Nashville’s Nissan Stadium.
Rowe’s first shot on goal came in the fifth minute, a long range effort that was handled by Panama keeper Jose Calderon. It was his second shot from near the penalty area in the 26th that was the USA’s best chance of the first half. Jorge Villafana made a nifty run into the box and set up Rowe, who trapped the ball and then hit a clean shot which was parried away by Calderon for his second of three saves on the night.
As one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dull second half, it wasn’t a surprise that Rowe created the opening goal of the match right after halftime.
Rowe’s trickery provided him the opening to send it what really seems like a harmless ground pass towards Dom Dwyer. But the US striker got to the ball first and redirected the ball perfectly into the far side netting to give the USA the lead.
It would be short lived however, as the US would struggle to clear their lines ten minutes later, allowing Miguel Camarango to score off a rebound. Brad Guzan had made two saves in the sequence leading up to the goal, but the sustained pressure from Panama paid off.
Bruce Arena sent on attacking reinforcements in Juan Agudelo, Gyasi Zardes and Jordan Morris but with a cramping Kelyn Rowe subbed out the USMNT lacked creativity in the final third and were unable to break the deadlock. The two group favorites would share the points in a 1-1 draw, setting up a scenario where the group winner will be determined by goal differential.
MARTINIQUE 2, NICARAGUA 0
Right from the opening whistle Martinique began peppering shots on goal, giving Nicaragua keeper Justo Lorente plenty to do on the evening. Lorente ended up making nine saves, but Martinique scored twice, once in each half, in a 2-0 win to find themselves atop Group B after one match.
Kevin Parsemain opened the scoring for Martinique in the 35th minute with a header following a short corner routine. A half hour later, substitute Steeven Langil entered the match and a minute later in the 66th he had doubled the lead. A driving run from midfield followed by a cutback inside the penalty area gave Langil the space he needed to blast home the second goal and effectively seal the victory.
Martinique took 19 shots with 11 on target compared to Nicaragua’s 17 total shots with just 4 on target. In four games in the modern era of the Gold Cup, Nicaragua is yet to score in the tournament.
Group B returns to action from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Wednesday, July 12th with Martinique playing Panama at 6:30pm followed by the United States and Nicaragua at 9:00pm.