USMNT

Recap: USMNT 2–0 Panama

In a game where Panama never really threatened, the US won comfortably, 2–0, with goals from its most senior members. Michael Bradley struck first direct from a corner kick, followed by a fine counter-attacking move started by Gyasi Zardes and finished by Clint Dempsey.

First half

The US opened with a very attacking lineup, with Brek Shea and Miguel Ibarra making up the left side. DeAndre Yedlin and Zardes made up the right. Mix Diskerud, Bradley, and Dempsey formed the midfield trio supporting Jozy Altidore, and the base of the team found Matt Besler and Jermaine Jones paired ahead of Nick Rimando.

The game started slowly, with neither team creating much in the way of offense. For the US, the play was down the flanks, with Ibarra looking lively, but a bit erratic in his passing. On the other side, Yedlin was having a hard time with his own passing, even playing a back pass to Rimando out for a Panama corner kick.

Panama had a couple of half chances, the first in the 14th minute, as a dinked Blas Perez ball put in a Panama player 1 v 1 with Rimando, who did well to meet him at speed and knock the ball away. In the 24th minute, Perez again was instrumental, getting into the US box, but Shea tackled him well, though came up limping.

After that, though, the US seemed to find some rhythm in its counterattacking, and the game changed. In the 21st minute, good work by Zardes after a failed free kick had won the US a corner. Bradley’s in-swinging kick was headed for the top corner on the near side, only for a panicked Jaime Penedo to palm it away. It was a harbinger of things to come as, in the 27th minute, the US won another corner. This time, Bradley’s kick headed straight for the far top corner. Altidore attacked it, but the ball flew in untouched!

The goal energized the US, and in the 37th minute, Zardes stole in front of a Panama pass on halfway, and cut inside with speed. Dempsey sprinted straight upfield ahead of him. Zardes spotted the run, and played Dempsey in just as the captain passed the backline, putting him in alone against Penedo. One touch took him past the keeper, and he finished with the outside of his right foot, under pressure from the recovering defender.

Panama had one more chance, with Perez absolutely shanking his shot after pouncing on a loose ball in the US box following a Besler slip, the ball going well wide.

Second half

The US made two changes, bringing Sean Johnson and Chris Wondolowski on for Rimando and Altidore. The second half was uneventful, with more drama from the increasing chippiness of Panama than from any good play. The US had several good opportunities to extend its lead, but failed to convert any of them.

The most exciting came early. In the 49th minute, good work from Diskerud recycled possession after a US corner kick, giving Bradley an excellent crossing chance high on the right. His ball was driven at waist height across the box where Zardes stood on the six. He lashed at it but couldn’t make a good connection. Any touch at all would have put it in the net.

On the hour, Dempsey was taken down from behind, 25 yards out. Bradley’s free kick put the ball on a platter for Jones, whose header was powerful, but straight at Penedo.

In the 68th minute, a fine deep cross from Shea found Wondolowski at the back post, but the ball got caught under his feet. His pull back deflected behind the onrushing Dempsey and the ball was cleared.

That was the last good chance for either side, with the most action coming from an ongoing dispute between Wondolowski and the Panama right back, the two squaring up multiple times.

But in the end, neither fisticuffs nor further goals were forthcoming, and the US had its first win in six attempts, and a shut-out, to boot.

US verdict

Zardes hot, Yedlin not: Gyasi Zardes had a stand-out game, especially in the first half. He was aggressive and efficient, and most of all he was dangerous, creating the US’s second goal with his movement and an excellent pass for Dempsey. Yedlin, on the other hand, had a match to forget, with stray passes happening all too often. His game ended early, after a poor Panama challenge. Hopefully he’ll shake off both the injury and the performance.

Best game for Bradley in a long time: That was possibly Michael Bradley’s best performance since well before the World Cup. Say nothing of his goal, but he quite simply dominated the center of the park, with able assistance from Diskerud. Playing more of a double pivot with Mix allowed Bradley to sit deep where he is comfortable, then spring forward when the chance presented itself.

US stay calm late: The US didn’t lose its head late, and managed to finally keep a clean sheet without giving anything up after the hour mark. Granted, the US’s impotence offensively continued, but having done the damage in the first half, it didn’t matter.

That’s all great, but Panama’s no Chile: The US performance was much improved, but Panama was very poor, hardly putting the US under any real threat. While the win is welcome, it doesn’t change the fact that the US has been poor for months and needs to turn things around.

Final thoughts

The US will feel relieved to be back to winning ways, but Jurgen Klinsmann’s team didn’t show anything new against Panama. With the exception of Zardes, this game was won by veterans who know how to play these types of games. It’s against better opposition from South America or Europe that the US must measure itself, not by beating up on CONCACAF teams like Panama, a team that has never qualified for the World Cup. When the friendlies against Mexico, the Netherlands, and Germany arrive in April and June, the US will need to do more.

Lineups
USA: 1-Nick Rimando (12-Sean Johnson, 46); 2-DeAndre Yedlin (3-Matt Hedges, 72), 13-Jermaine Jones, 5-Matt Besler, 11-Brek Shea; 4-Michael Bradley, 10-Mix Diskerud (15-Perry Kitchen, 72); 20-Gyasi Zardes, 8-Clint Dempsey (capt.) (14-Luis Gil, 81), 19-Miguel Ibarra (7-Lee Nguyen, 79); 17-Jozy Altidore (18-Chris Wondolowski, 46)
Unused substitutions: 6-Wil Trapp, 16-Shane O’Neill, 21-Dillon Serna
Manager: Jurgen Klinsmann

Panama
1-Jaime Penedo (capt.); 2-Leonel Parris, 5-Fidel Escobar (23-Chin Hormechea, 46), 3-Harold Cummings, 17-Luis Ovalle (11-Hécgar Murillo, 46); 8-Marcos Sánchez (16-Yairo Glaize Yau, 46), 13-Alfredo Stephens (22-Ismael Díaz, 55), 20-Aníbal Godoy, 15-Éric Davis; 7-Blas Pérez (21-Ricardo Buitrago, 56), 9-Rolando Blackburn (4-Luis Pereira, 63)
Unused substitutions: 6-Michael Amir Murillo, 10-Gabriel Torres, 12-José Calderón, 19-Jhamal Rodríguez
Manager: Hernan Dario Gomez

Stats Summary: USA / PAN
Shots: 6 / 5
Shots on Goal: 5 / 2
Saves: 2 / 3
Corner Kicks: 3 / 5
Fouls: 23 / 15
Offside: 0 / 3

Scoring Summary
USA –- Michael Bradley — 27th minute
USA –- Clint Dempsey (Gyasi Zardes) — 37

Misconduct Summary
USA – Michael Bradley (caution) — 38th minute
PAN – Luis Ovalle (caution) — 40
PAN – Anibal Godoy (caution) — 59
USA – Chris Wondolowski (caution) — 65

Officials
Referee: Henry Bejarano (CRC)
Assistant Referee 1: Warner Castro (CRC)
Assistant Referee 2: Christian Ramirez (HON)
Fourth Official: Oscar Moncada (HON)

3 Comments

  1. Former Season Ticket Holder Greg says:

    Bradley’s goal of the week.

  2. Please let this be the last we see of Wondo.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Yeah he needs to be done. He had his shot. I think Lee Nguyen deserved more time in these past two games… it sucked not to see him.

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