East Hartford, CT (Sports Network) - Brek Shea's late second half tally was enough to lift the United States to a 1-0 win over Costa Rica in Group C Gold Cup action on Tuesday at Rentschler Field.
The United States had already locked up a place in the quarterfinals prior to Tuesday's match, but Shea's goal in the 82nd minute of play ensured the Americans claimed the top spot in the group.
Both teams struggled to find space early on, but the United States had the first great chance of the night as Landon Donovan lofted a corner kick into the box where Alejandro Bedoya got his head to it, but pushed it wide of the net.
Costa Rica failed to generate many scoring chances over the opening 45 minutes as both sides went into the locker room scoreless.
The Americans had another golden opportunity in the 57th minute when Jose Torres floated a free kick into the area. Costa Rica goalkeeper Patrick Pemberton came out for the ball and spilled it. Donovan then collected it inside the box, but failed to make solid contact on his shot.
Costa Rica's best chance of the match came in the 78th minute when Carlos Johnson got his head on a free kick and directed it on goal. American goalkeeper Sean Johnson parried it away with a great save and started the deciding counter attack in the process.
Johnson smashed the ball down field to Donovan, who galloped down the right flank and played the ball into space for a streaking Shea, who took a touch to control and calmly fired it past Pemberton for his first goal in international competition.
The visitors had one final fantastic opportunity in stoppage time with a free kick as Celso Borges got his head to the ball and directed it on goal, but Johnson was there to smother it and keep his team in front.
In Tuesday's other Group C encounter, Ariel Martinez bagged a hat trick as Cuba advanced to the quarterfinals with a 4-0 rout of Belize.
The Americans will next face El Salvador on July 21, while in other quarterfinal action, Mexico faces Trinidad & Tobago, Panama battles Cuba, and Costa Rica will play Honduras.