The United States Men’s National Team beat Panama 1-0 Wednesday night to go top of their group ahead of the Gold Cup knockout stages. Head coach Gregg Berhalter rotated the American side after securing a spot in the knockout stages with a 6-0 win against Trinidad & Tobago, playing a completely different 11 than the T&T game. Jozy Altidore scored the only goal of the game, and some goal it was, a bicycle kick in the 66th minute to give the United States the win.


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“I talked to Jozy at halftime and asked how much more he had in him,” Berhalter said, according to USA Today. “He said, ‘I want to stay on the field.’ When you hear that from a player, it makes you feel great. When that player goes out and scores the winning goal, it makes you feel even better.”

With this likely being Altidore’s last Gold Cup showing before retirement, it was a big moment for the poacher. He has been placed out of the starting lineup in the last few games under Berhalter, favoring the younger, more mobile Gyasi Zardes, but Altidore proved his value and will be a massive confidence booster.

“We had a game plan going into it,” midfielder Christian Roldan said, according to USA Today. “We kept the shutout. We kept them to one shot and zero corners. We’re pretty happy with the effort defensively. In the end, you grind out these games and win the group.”

Berhalter rested Christian Pulisic, Michael Bradley, Zach Steffon and the rest of his favored 11 ahead of the Gold Cup quarterfinals against Curacao. The quarterfinal will be played on Sunday in Philadelphia and will face the winners of the Jamaica Panama game in the semifinals.

Looking ahead in the bracket, while the US cannot overlook their opponents coming up as they did with Trinidad and Tobago in October of 2017, the biggest challenge ahead of them will be in the final against the free-flowing Mexican side. With Mexico likely to win their side of the bracket, and the United States likely to win theirs, expect a typical Gold Cup final between the two Concacaf rivals. The United States will be looking to match Mexico’s seven Gold Cup titles this summer ahead of an exciting new era under Berhalter.

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