We Are Going to Brazil! We are Going to Brazil! The chant rang out from the Seattle crowd of 40,847 with over 30 minutes still to play in the United States 2-0 win over Panama on Tuesday night.
The crowd’s confidence was justified as the U.S. moved to the top of the Hex standings with the most impressive win of the Jurgen Klinsmann era to date. The Americans were sharp from the opening whistle, immediately running at the Panamanian defense, who may be questioning their decision to sit back and absorb U.S. pressure in a defensive posture.
With the Yanks pressing early Michael Bradley was unlucky to have his shot kept out of Panama’s net by the foot of Clint Dempsey with the game being played almost entirely in the Canaleros end of the field. Jozy Altidore should have been awarded a penalty, after powering past his marker in a play reminiscent of his Confederations Cup goal versus Spain in 2010.
All that pressure finally paid off for the U.S. in the 35th minute when Altidore finished a wonderful move with a deft finish. Geoff Cameron started the play with a good steal, springing midfield partner Michael Bradley. Bradley pushed hard up the pitch, feeding Fabian Johnson out wide. Johnson’s cross was perfect, beating the defense and finding Altidore at the back post where the red hot striker took his chance.
With Jermaine Jones and Graham Zusi unavailable in Seattle, U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann turned to Geoff Cameron and Eddie Johnson as their replacements. Both would more than justify Klinsmann’s faith in them on what would be a very good night for both players and an even better one for their coach.
After a slow start to the second half those two players combined for a clinching goal that got the boisterous Seattle crowd chanting. Eight minutes into the second half Cameron picked out Eddie Johnson with a perfect ball over the top of the Panama backline. EJ held up his run perfectly, controlled the pass with a soft first touch and took his chance with aplomb. The crowd erupted as the Seattle Sounder Johnson’s shot settled into the twines.
With Panama reeling the U.S. were having fun and going for a third goal. DaMarcus Beasley hit the upright, Dempsey bounced a shot off the crossbar from an Altidore rebound and the fans were loving it. Panama tried to get back into the match and Tim Howard was forced to make a big save in the game’s dying moments.
The Americans had good performances all over the field, particularly going forward. Altidore and Dempsey seem to be building a genuine understanding, and received great support from Bradley, Cameron, both Johnson’s and fullback Beasley.
The only negatives for the USMNT on this night were another brain freeze from Omar Gonzalez on the late play that brought Howard’s big save. Brad Evans had his hero moment on Sunday in Jamaica, but the Seattle Sounder had some troubles Tuesday in his home stadium. Panama winger Alberto Quintero had the beating of Evans much of the night, although good work from Gonzalez and Cameron kept the damage to a minimum. A late yellow card means that DaMarcus Beasley will have to miss out next Tuesday when the U.S. takes on Honduras in Sandy, Utah, the other bad news on what was a very good night for the Americans.
Tuesday’s win puts the U.S. at the top of the Hex, two points clear of second place Costa Rica, with 10 points from five games and five matches left to play. Check below for all the stats.
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 1 2
PAN 0 0 0
USA – Jozy Altidore (Fabian Johnson) 36th minute
USA – Eddie Johnson (Geoff Cameron) 53
USA: 1-Tim Howard; 6-Brad Evans, 3-Omar Gonzalez, 5-Matt Besler, 7-DaMarcus Beasley; 4-Michael Bradley, 20-Geoff Cameron; 18-Eddie Johnson (10-Joe Corona, 87), 8-Clint Dempsey (capt.), 23-Fabian Johnson (14-Brad Davis, 87); 17-Jozy Altidore (11-Stuart Holden, 90+1)
Substitutions Not Used: 12-Brad Guzan, 2-Edgar Castillo, 9-Terrence Boyd, 15-Michael Parkhurst , 16-Sacha Kljestan, 21-Clarence Goodson, 22-Nick Rimando
Head coach: Jurgen Klinsmann
PAN: 1-Jaime Penedo; 2-Leonel Parris, 5-Roman Torres, 23-Felipe Baloy (capt.), 4-Carlos Rodriguez; 8-Marcos Sanchez, 21-Amilcar Henriquez (9-Gabriel Torres, 78), 11-Armando Cooper (10-Nelson Barahona, 60), 19-Alberto Quintero; 20-Anibal Godoy (16-Rolando Blackburn, 59); 18-Luis Tejada
Substitutions Not Used: 12-Luis Mejia, 3-Roberto Chen, 6-Gabriel Gomez, 7-Edwin Aguilar, 13-Jean Carlo Cedeño, 14-Juan de Dios Perez, 15-Kevin Melgar, 17-Luis Henriquez, 22-Rolando Escobar
Head coach: Julio Dely Valdes
Stats Summary: USA / PAN
Shots: 12 / 8
Shots on Goal: 3 / 2
Saves: 2 / 1
Corner Kicks: 2 / 1
Fouls: 20 / 13
Offside: 1 / 2
USA – Jozy Altidore (caution) 56th minute
PAN – Marcos Sanchez (caution) 69
USA – Geoff Cameron (caution) 69
USA – DaMarcus Beasley (caution) 90+2
USA – Tim Howard (caution) 90+3