USMNT @ Panama

Soaring after a 6-0 thrashing of Honduras, the US visits Panama in the next WCQ.

1st Half

Zusi is playing right back.  So that should be a fun misadventure given how slow he is.  Jermaine Jones back from suspension in defensive midfield role.  Tim Ream gets the nod at centerback replacing the injured John Brooks.

0-15′ The typical extra shoves and cheap shots that don’t warrant a foul or card as you’d expect from CONCACAF rivals.  Nagbe loses it on the left as he tried to glide fwd.  So far the US is showing some high pressure to prevent a Panamanian buildup.  Panama cuts in undressing Nagbe on the right and sends in a low pass to a teammate open at the PK spot but he was offside.  That was far too simple for Panama.  There was a crowd of white shirts but guy was still open.  Zusi does well to keep everything in front of him and block a shot/cross.  Panama attempt an audacious shot from distance that sails well high.  Nagbe with a bright moment fwd but he is chopped down as he leaves for Jones.  Jones cut down too.  No call either time.

Villafana covers for Nagbe well after his surge fwd left space behind.  Villafana with strong run up the left for Dempsey but Altidore can do nothing with the Dempsey cross.  Tremendous pace thus far.  Bradley with one of his patented bad giveaways at the back and leads to foul.  Panama chance to send in a ball of a set piece.  Headed out and following up shot well wide of the post.  JJ is officially back after knocking some hapless dude over.

15-30′ Panama CK.  Panama first to head but the cpt can’t keep it down and bounces over everything.  Altidore not exactly giving 110% on his defense there.  Seeing no fluidity to US attack.  Americans don’t really seem that interested in doing much but absorbing pressure.  Thus far, clear that 0-0 is great for US and not what Panama has in mind.  The precious few ventures fwd for the US have been individual exploration and lonely ones at that.  Lot of individual play with no connection with another white shirt.  Panama gets in a nice cross in space on the left but Ream there to somewhat awkwardly head it clear.  Pusilic just shoved down off the ball and US not pleased.  No yellow shown but FK for the US.  Good ball from Bradley and Jones gets a head to it but its meekly at goal.  JJ did all he could to get on the end of it.  Too bad, because heading across goal and there were open white shirts.  Pulisic cut down again.  That one was ugly.  Nagbe the recipient next time.  Bradley cross evades everyone but the Panamanian GK.   Nagbe pulled back as he cut through the Panamanian midfield. Ref didn’t want to give but relented. Panama 1-on-1 with Zusi who does justenough to get a foot in and knock it off the attacker for a GK.    This time attack down the right and I think it was Ream who was in position to handle it.  CK for Panama, low driven in and cleared.  CHANCE the first attack from the US.  Dempsey picks out a streaking Pulisic in acres of space.  Ball sat up a bit and Pulisic had to take an extra touch to fully gather.  That cost him and Panama with a last ditch slide to block it out for a CK.  Foul called on US on the CK.

30-45′ Now US woken up as Nagbe exploring.  Panama tries to counter but still 6 white shirts back and the attack becomes too pensive to be incisive.  BEST CHANCE of the match to Panama.  Ball over the top down the left.  Attacker cuts in twice clowning Zusi the first time.  Rips a shot directly at Howard who parries clear with strong foundation.  Panama probing now.  Ball bouncing around the area and Zusi falls down.  But the hosts can’t really muster much on goal.  Now things are boiling over and it would not shock you to know that JJ, Dempsey, and Altidore are 3 of the 4 Americans (along with Bradley) involved.  Altidore appears to be the focal point.

Panama goes down in a heap in the area but nothing in it for me.  Zusi cleans up with a measured slide tackle.

USA GOOOOALLLL!!!  Pulisic picks up an errant touch from a Panama defender and dances around in the area.  Kept trying to dig the ball out of his feet for a shot but never could.  Looked like he was going to waste it.  But the 18-year-old had the composure/poise to keep his head up and slip a pass to an unmarked Dempsey atop the 6 who had made a clever late run.  Simple finish from there.  USMNT 1  Panama 0.

Panama very nearly with a quick reply again working Zusi silly and cross/shot thing was always rising but had Howard rooted to his line.  Zusi clumsy again clattering over a Panamanian defender like he was a 3-point shooter for the Florida Gators.  Dangerous FK opportunity on the left wing for Panama.   US insists Panama touched it but looked like Gonzalez got a head to it.  CK for Panama.  US reads it well and thump it clear.  PANAMA GOAL.  Long throw deep in the US area and ball bounces clear.  Panama first to react and stab it home to level the score just before halftime.  Brutal for the US.  6 White shirts and 3 Red shirts in the area there and Panama pounces on the loose ball.  2 mistakes at the back and we’re honors even.

HALFTIME  USMNT 1  Panama 0

Agree with Wagner.  Aside from the scrap. Easy to forget Altidore was even out there.

2nd Half

45-60′ Ream careless and gives it away in midfield.  Panama again opening space on the right.  But a little panicky from Panama and cross targets nobody.  I’m not interested in making this Zusi as a rightback experiment work.  Just stop it.  US not pressing and Panama facing little resistance moving into the final 1/3.  Nagbe and Villafana work well together and Villafana overlap he saves it with a perfect cross to Pulisic.  Defender gets his body in front to block the volley because that had eyes for goal.  Nagbe off the short CK tries cutting in on his right and spills a weak shot wide.

Nagbe knocked down again.  Still no cards.  Bradley cross finds Dempsey but he can’t get much behind it and comfortably dealt with by the GK.   Tim Ream wins a footrace he needed to win as Panama tried a ball over the top.  Cross from the right and Ream redeems with 2 strong headers clear.  Pulisic hacked down and no call.  Panama takes the gift but does nothing with it.  Howard gathers.  PANAMA CHANCE.  Tim Ream on the spot again.  Panama with near breakaway but Ream hustling all the way and blocks the shot as the attacker cuts in.  Pulisic races fwd and slips to Dempsey who finds Nagbe.  Nagbe picks out JJ in space but JJ is way too slow on the draw and shot blocked.  Furious pace now.  Panama heads down on the right as Villafana loses in the air.  Ream late covering and the Howard smothers the quick shot.  Letoff for the US there.

60-75′  US hanging on early in the second half.  Ream scrambles over to block a Panama cross out for a CK.  There was a lot of open grass there.  Off the CK Panama appeals for handball as the ball clangs around the area before cleared.  I don’t know if it is the same guy but I sure appreciate when Panama hurriedly blasts a shot well outside the area and nowhere close.  Another chance for the big throw-in .  Skims a Panama head and sent long by Zusi.  Nagbe gives way to Bedoya which seems like a defensive-minded swap.

US in no hurry content with a point from Panama to keep things on track for WCQ.  Bradley CK right to the GK.  US quickly gets it back in.  Pulisic making Panama nervous and he leaves for JJ whose pass to Bedoya leads to nothing.  Zusi switches field to ??? absolutely nobody.  Please remove him before he costs us a point.  Altidore probably not worth keeping out there either.  Interesting move, perhaps a conditioning thing more than anything, but Jermaine Jones off and rising star Kellyn Acosta now on for the US.

75-90′ Danger time for US as fatigue is setting in.  Some tired minds and legs out there.  Panama has a good look straight on goal but Howard gets low to snuff it out.  Panama knifing through the US line more and more and Ream evidently watching nearby did enough to force a sprayed shot.

US make its last sub and a forgettable night for Altidore is done.  He casually strolls off as Arriola comes on for him.  Perhaps we’ll get a little energy just to force Panama to make an extra pass or two moving fwd.  But nothing in the last 15′ suggests the US is looking for a win.

Ball on the right and good looking cross sent in by the US but cut out by Panama.  First signs from the dormant US attack in a loooonggg time.  Bradley CK again poor and misses everyone.  Panama dancing at its back a little bit but eventually work it clear.  Zusi nearly victimized there on the clearance with a high line and his poor pace.  Panama overlap but Bedoya and his industrious work ends the danger.  Ball down the left channel and Zusi can’t do a thing about it.  Cross back to open man about 12-yards out but his balance all off and the shot is wild.  US deals with the long throw fine this time.  Bradley with a chance on the counter.  He finds Arriola.  But his cross doesn’t reach anyone.  He actually had the time there to carry fwd and bring it in.  Too many red shirts in the way for a cross to get to Dempsey or Pulisic.  Bradley FK from the right finds nothing.  US player hauled down no call and Panama looks to counter.  Ream does good work to slow it down and wait for help.  Panama eventually corralled in the corner and Villafana and Ream do well to win the goal kick (and not concede a CK).  US finally gets a friendly whistle.  Dempsey knocked down as Panama player leaped for the header but really the dude got the ball.  It just looked bad.  Regardless, Bradley over it and kills half of stoppage time sizing it up.  He chips it in but 1-bounce to the GK.  US wins it back and look to steal it at the death.  Pulisic drives fwd and Panama player commits a blocking foul.  No call.  That should do it.

FULLTIME  USMNT 1  Panama 1

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