Sluggish, sloppy but hardly surprising is the verdict as the U.S. and Panama drew 1-1 on hot Nashville afternoon as the Gold Cup got underway.
That is the same score that these CONCACAF rivals have played to on four consecutive occasions, including the 2015 Gold Cup Third Place match, which the Canaleros won on penalty kicks.
A slowly paced first half raised the question of why and who thought it a smart idea to schedule a competitive sporting event in the heat of a July afternoon in Nashville, Tennessee.
But the game had to be played and Bruce Arena stayed with most of the same lineup that had impressed in last Saturday’s 2-1 win over Ghana in Connecticut. In that friendly versus the Black Stars the U.S. ball movement stood out, today was a different story with much of the problems originating in the midfield.
Dax McCarty and Kellyn Acosta, so solid in East Hartford, were both slow and sloppy in possession at the base the midfield in Arena’s 4-2-3-1. Further up the pitch from that duo, Joe Corona contributed little creativity in the 10 role and Alejandro Bedoya worked hard to little effect in place of Paul Arriola, with only Kellyn Rowe providing any positives.
The midfield was also leaving big gaps with the back four, with Greg Zusi looking especially vulnerable at fullback where he was badly outplayed by NYCFC reserve Miguel Camargo.
The first half closed without a goal, with Brad Guzan the one player to improve upon his performance of the previous week. Guzan was ok against Ghana, very good today, as he attempts to give Tim Howard a run for the number one job in Russia.
The U.S finally broke the deadlock five minutes after the halftime break on a fine finish from Dom Dwyer, that’s two goals in two U.S. caps for the newly minted American citizen.
Rowe did the work to set up Dwyer, first controlling a difficult ball and then drilling a low cross for Dwyer to tuck away. But the U.S. was unable to deal with prosperity, allowing the Canaleros to take control of the game in the minutes after the U.S. goal.
It turned out that the home side could only hold that lead for 10 minutes before Camargo followed up after from a fine Guzan save and equalized. Arena would make some changes after that leveler, at one point Dwyer was joined by fellow forwards Juan Agudelo and Jordan Morris, as well as striker/winger Gyasi Zardes.
All to no avail as the U.S. and Panama once again finished in that familiar 1-1 scoreline.
It was a poor day at the office for the Americans, the worst performance of the Bruce 2.0 regime but it is just the first match of the very forgiving Gold Cup group stage with Martinique and Guatemala still to come.
In other words, it’s not time to panic, just yet. Now, if the U.S. doesn’t come up with a win Wednesday night in Tampa when they face Martinique, well…
July 12, 2017
9 PM ET MNT vs Martinique Raymond James Stadium; Tampa Bay, Fla.
FS1, UniMas, UDN
July 15, 2017
7 PM ET MNT vs Nicaragua – FirstEnergy Stadium; Cleveland, Ohio FXX, Univision, UDN
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 1 1
PAN 0 1 1
USA – Dom Dwyer (Kelyn Rowe) 50th minute
PAN – Miguel Camargo 60
USA: 1-Brad Guzan; 19-Graham Zusi, 3-Omar Gonzalez, 5-Matt Besler, 2-Jorge Villafaña; 13-Dax McCarty, 23-Kellyn Acosta; 11-Alejandro Bedoya (capt.) (8-Jordan Morris, 85), 10-Joe Corona (18-Juan Agudelo, 62), 6-Kelyn Rowe (9-Gyasi Zardes, 69); 14-Dom Dwyer
Substitutes not used: 12-Bill Hamid, 22-Sean Johnson, 4-Matt Miazga, 7-Chris Pontius , 15-Eric Lichaj, 16-Justin Morrow, 17-Cristian Roldan, 20-Paul Arriola, 21-Matt Hedges
Head coach: Bruce Arena
PAN : 12-Jose Calderon; 2-Michael Amir Murillo, 4-Jan Carlos Vargas, 23-Roberto Chen, 17-Luis Ovalle; 8-Edgar Yoel Barcenas, 6-Gabriel Gomez (capt.) (19-Josiel Nuñez, 70), 20-Anibal Godoy, 18-Miguel Camargo (11-Armando Cooper, 71); 9-Gabriel Torres, 10-Ismael Diaz
Substitutes not used : 1- Alex Rodriguez , 16- Orlando Mosquera, 3- Angel Patrick, 5- Fidel Escobar, 7- Ricardo Clarke, 13- Roderick Miller, 14- Valentin Pimentel , 15- Eric Davis, 16-Orlando Mosquera, 21- Leslie Heraldez, 22- Abdiel Arroyo
Head coach: Hernan Dario Gomez
Stats Summary: USA / PAN
Shots: 10 / 13
Shots on Goal: 8 / 8
Saves: 7 / 7
Corner Kicks: 5 / 2
Fouls: 3 / 14
Offside: 1 / 1