A fully-rotated US men’s national team benefited from a Jozy Altidore goal to beat Panama, 1-0, Wednesday night at Children's Mercy Park, the home of Sporting Kansas City, to win Group D of the Concacaf Gold Cup.
After plenty of miscues in the first half, the breakthrough arose in the 66th minute via Altidore, who scored his first USMNT goal in 20 months. A Djordje Mihailovic corner kick was driven to the back post, where Matt Miazga headed back across goal. Altidore, facing his own net, smashed home on the doorstep with a bicycle kick.
With a first-choice XI rested, the US defense still stood tall, as goalkeeper Sean Johnson was only forced into one save. That was representative of the entire match, with clear-cut chances scarce beyond Altidore’s goal.
The US finished the group stage with no goals conceded and a plus-11 goal differential, coming a long way from two pre-Gold Cup friendly losses.
- 66' – USA – Jozy Altidore | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: With a knockout-round spot booked, the USMNT fielded an entirely new starting XI, only calling upon Tyler Boyd, Christian Pulisic and Gyasi Zardes in the second half. The new group had plenty of rust and lacked the final ball, but the job got done. With that, all eyes now turn to Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa., this Sunday.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: While not a goal or a save, the standing ovation Christian Pulisic’s introduction prompted certainly stands out. By entering the match, it showed Berhalter wasn't content with a draw, instead wanting to enter the knockout round with another win.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Altidore made the most of full squad rotation, making amends for some first-half misses with an acrobatic finish. It was Altidore’s first goal with the USMNT since Oct. 7, 2017 against, you guessed it, Panama. He’s not guaranteed to start in the knockout round, with Gyasi Zardes firmly in head coach Gregg Berhalter’s plans. At the very least, Altidore has complicated the decision.
- PAN: Sunday, June 30 vs. Jamaica, Gold Cup quarterfinals (5:30 pm ET | FS1, Univision, UDN)
- USA: Sunday, June 30 vs. Curacao, Gold Cup quarterfinals (8 pm ET | FS1, Univision, UDN)