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Bruce Arena pleased, but says U.S. 'made it pretty difficult on ourselves'

Bruce Arena pleased, but says U.S. 'made it pretty difficult on ourselves'
From ESPN - July 15, 2017

CLEVELAND -- United States manager Bruce Arena credited his side for beating Nicaragua 3-0 in its group stage finale, a scoreline that proved to be just enough to edge out Panama for the top spot in Group B.

With Panama beating Martinique 3-0 in the day's opening match at FirstEnergy Stadium, the U.S. entered its encounter with Los Pinoleros knowing it needed to win by three goals in order to top the group. It did just that, getting goals from Joe Corona, Kelyn Rowe, and Matt Miazga, with the last goal coming with just two minutes remaining.

But Arena also lamented how his side squandered numerous opportunities, including a pair of second-half penalties that were saved by Nicaragua goalkeeper Justo Lorente. Had either attempt been converted -- Dom Dwyer took the first, Corona the second -- it would have allowed the Americans to breathe easier.

As it was, the U.S. still managed to get the needed result.

"I would think that you could say we wasted some opportunities, and made it pretty difficult on ourselves," Arena said. "However, in the end I am pretty proud of our team that they kept battling, and they knew that they needed three goals in the game today and they managed to do it in the end.

"Give the goalkeeper for Nicaragua credit, two penalty kick saves is not bad in a game. Give them credit there, we did not do well with our [spot] kicks. At the end of the day we still came out on top, and I am pleased with that."

The U.S. labored through a first half that saw it apply plenty of pressure but fail to create many opportunities. It was not until Corona's goal in the 36th minute that the U.S. managed to break on top.

"I do not really think we played particularly well in the first half," Arena said. "Certainly we could have had a couple of goals. We did not look sharp. The field played a little slow, it was dry, but that's not an excuse.

"I thought they played well. But we did not do a good job passing the ball. We did not do a good job with our width. I think that improved in the second half."

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