It was a hot, humid, July afternoon in Nashville when the USMNT kicked off the Gold Cup against Panama. The rather lackluster affair ended in a 1-1 draw that left many of the supporters for both sides disappointed in what could have been. The end of the match showed the exhaustion of both teams as the sun zapped nearly every player’s energy. The U.S. has what many would call their “B-Team” called up for the Gold Cup. Players like Christian Pulisic, Clint Dempsey, and John Brooks are just some of the notable names that were left off of the roster.
The first half of the match was a rather dull affair with a total of eight shots on goal coming from both sides. Most of the shots were straight at the keeper and easy saves. Some bright spots in the first half showed that Graham Zusi is a capable RB for the USMNT in this tournament and potentially in Russia. His track back on what was looking to be a dangerous counter attack from Panama saved the USMNT from being down an early goal.
Dom Dwyer was lurking around in dangerous areas but was never given much of a chance in the first half to get the ball in an area to shoot. Kelyn Rowe was impressive throughout his time on the field, he was threatening, made smart choices, and has put himself in the conversation to make the World Cup roster next summer. Miguel Camargo gave the U.S. back line trouble in the first half but was unable to finish anything off. Many of the Panama shots were from outside of the area and didn’t threaten Brad Guzan. Ismael Diaz nearly beat Guzan late in the first half with a curling effort towards the bottom right corner that Guzan was able to push aside.
26 – @bguzan has 26 saves in Gold Cup action, the most of any player in the competition since the start of the 2013 Gold Cup. Guardian.
— OptaJack (@OptaJack) July 8, 2017
The second half was full of ups and downs for both sides with Dom Dwyer scoring his second goal in as many appearances for the national team with a sneaky little shot to just beat the keeper. The feeling of a 1-0 win for the USMNT was quickly put to bed as Camargo put it past Guzan and ended the hopes of a clean sheet for what was truthfully, a poor showing form the U.S. back line.
— OptaJack (@OptaJack) July 8, 2017
The United States made three second half subs as Juan Agudelo, Gyasi Zardes, and Jordan Morris all made appearances in the game. None of the strikers made a real impact in the match and one could argue were pointless and interesting substitutions. The only real controversy/chance for the U.S. came in the chance of a non-call on a penalty that truly was a missed call from the referee. After a few more minutes of the U.S. franticly trying to get a winning goal, the match ended a disappointing 1-1 draw.
Not much is to be sad about the match other than it appeared the United States team almost seemed to be playing two different styles of soccer and neither giving way to the other. The midfield seemed to want to work the ball down the wings, while the attacking players seemed to want to force it down the middle. The majority of the match was spent with players forcing crosses into areas that the strikers either could not get to, or were easily dealt with by Panama’s defenders.
At the end of the day, it is not the result the United States wanted, and it was actually the first time the U.S. has not won their opening match in the Gold Cup. A point is always better than zero, but the result in Nashville will be looked down upon especially given how far the USMNT has fallen in the most recent FIFA World Rankings. Will Bruce Arena get it right? Or will this be another tournament the USMNT disappoints in. Next up for the Stars and Stripes – Martinique on July 12.