USMNT Report: US Has Its Worst Performance Of The Gold Cup So Far

The United States draws Panama 1-1 in a chippy, uninteresting and lackluster affair
by Herb Scribner   |   Monday, July 13, 2015

USMNT Report - coverage of the United States Men's National Team

The United States Men’s National team capped off group play of the 2015 Gold Cup with a 1-1 draw with Panama. It was a lackluster game, to say the least.

Despite an excellent passing combination between Alejandro Bedoya and Michael Bradley for the USA’s lone goal, the match with Panama lacked energy, consistency and fluid play. Both the Americans and the Panamanians found themselves in a chippy affair that was overly physical and riddled with poor referee decisions.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Alejandro Bedoya — It was tough to choose an American that performed above the others, given the lackluster match the USA had. But Bedoya not only set up Bradley’s goal with a slick pass, but he also created a chance in the first half with a head-flick and would likely have scored had he not been fouled on his way to the box. Bedoya has the tendency to disappear in matches, but that was not the case on Monday night.

ANALYSIS: This was one of the uneven games the USA has played in recent memory.

Like the previous two Gold Cup matches, the Americans started the game flat and without energy, which allowed Panama to maintain possession and score the opening goal. USA also didn’t match Panama’s physicality. This led to a chippy affair that fell in favor of Panama for much of the first half. The second half wasn’t much better — Panama still had a flurry of chances — but the USA was able to control the ball more and dictate the pace of the game.

The USA didn’t keep the energy in the second half for long. The team appeared gassed around the 70th minute, with Panama running circles around them in those final moments. The overly physical Panamanians — who were rarely called to justice by the referee, who also had a poor outing (though I’m not one to blame referees, since referee decisions can go either way — wore down the USA enough to make them almost immobile by game’s end. It was uneven, overall.

It didn’t help that the Yanks’ defense was in trouble throughout much of the game. John Brooks received a yellow card early, and Timmy Chandler and Alvarado both received cautions later in the game, too. The backline had to play light and careful through the remainder of the match, which caused them to make poor judgments in the back. Brooks and Chandler specificaly both had terrible nights, with Brooks’ inability to mark Blas Perez in the final third leading to Panama’s opening goal. Chandler coughed up possession too often and rarely made any stops on the wings.

The midfield couldn’t get much together, either. Kyle Beckerman and Bradley bumped into each other too often, and Bradley made a limited amount of attacking runs from the middle until the final 10 minutes. Bedoya’s runs were a welcomed spark, as were DeAndre Yedlin’s when he came in during the second half. But otherwise, the USA did very little in the center of the field, which left Gyasi Zardes and Chris Wondolowski empty-handed in the first half. Both those strikers need service to be successful. Without service, they're left alone on island, as was the case Monday night.

Though Dempsey added a little spark in the second, it wasn’t enough to make up for Zardes’ poor performance. After some entertaining games earlier in this tournament, Zardes cooled off in this game, making a flurry of mistakes and appearing a step behind the rest of the team. He’s proven to be successful when he comes off the bench, so USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann may want to consider having Zardes play that super-sub role moving forward.

The 1-1 draw is good enough to get the USA through as group winners (they clinched that spot after the win over Haiti), but this game can’t be a good sign for their confidence. A desperate Panama almost took down the United States, which shows the Americans are vulnerable when their backs are against the wall. In a knockout tournament, that’s the last position you want to find yourself in.

The USA, who has been playing at home, needs to find a way to maintain possession and keep control of the games moving forward. Letting too many chances attack their shaky backline will only damage them — so much so that the USA could be leaving the tournament earlier than expected.

NEXT UP: July 18 — 2015 Gold Cup: United States vs. TBD, M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland. 5 p.m. EST, Fox Sports 1, Univision.


UMass Amherst
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SN managing editor and award-winning journalist, Herb has always been known as "The Soccer Guy" wherever he goes. He's a leftback in most outdoor and indoor leagues. He also writes for Deseret News National.