Top Stories

USMNT looking for win, Gold Cup quarterfinals qualification against Panama


Photo by Rick Osentoski/


TAMPA - The U.S. men's national team has a history of dominance over Panama, but the Americans are entering their second Group C match in the CONCACAF Gold Cup knowing a win won't come easy.

It wasn't easy the last time the two teams met, nor the time before that. In fact, the last three times the two teams have played the United States has won but by close scorelines. That's why the Americans are being cautious about their match against the Panamanians (8 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel/Telefutura) at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday, a match that can result in U.S. qualification for the knockout stage of the tournament should the Americans win and should Canada get at least a draw out of its preceding match with Guadeloupe.

Having played eight games in as many years against Panama, the United States is well aware of the type of problems Los Canaleros present, both physically and tactically. But that doesn't mean the U.S. team wants to be cautious when the first whistle blows. Instead, the Americans are planning on doing what they did against Canada: take the game to the opponent.

"You always want to start games well," Landon Donovan said. "We had a stretch where we didn't start games well over the last few years and it was difficult to always come from behind. You spend a lot of energy when you do that.

"Getting the first goal is always important. In these games specifically it's important, because when you get a first goal and you make some of these teams open themselves up, they become very vulnerable and you can get the second and third and fourth."

The Americans may want to push the game, but center backs Tim Ream and Clarence Goodson will need to be wary of the always-dangerous Blas Perez, who scored a goal in Panama's 3-2 win over Guadeloupe in the Group C opener.

Perez will spearhead Panama's attack (he has 21 goals in 37 international appearances), and will be supported by the likes of Luis Tejada and Gabriel Gomez.

"They're an athletic team. They're good on the ball, they have some good movement," U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra said. "For us, we need to worry about ourselves. Make sure we stay organized and focused on our gameplan. Passing, moving, pressuring them when we can."

Defensively, the Panamanians are far from stout. After taking a 3-0 lead, Panama allowed 10-man Guadeloupe to score two second-half goals to make things interesting in Detroit, and both goals were partly due to lax defending.

That's why the U.S. team will need strong outings from Donovan, Jozy Altidore, Juan Agudelo and Clint Dempsey. If the Americans can apply the same type of pressure it did against Canada, chances are likely to come easier than they did in Detroit.

"They've made it tough for us in the past, and we've had difficulty breaking them down," goalkeeper Tim Howard said. "We're not under the illusions that it is going to be an easy game, but we also realize what a good result does for us."

A win on Saturday won't only potentially give the United States automatic qualification for the knockout stages of the tournament, but it would also present a chance to rest starters in the third group-stage match against Guadeloupe. That has been a goal of the Americans since before the tournament began.

"Our goal from the beginning was to make sure we win these (first two) games and give ourselves a chance to finish first in the group and potentially rest depending on how the other results go," Donovan said. "But regardless you want to ensure you've qualified by the second game if at all possible, and then it would be nice if there's a chance to rest guys and get other guys some minutes that we're going to use later in the tournament."

The Americans will need to avoid any hiccups if they hope to get that opportunity while also maintaining their record of dominance against a familiar regional foe.


What do you think the U.S. team needs to do to win? Worried about Panama's attack? Hoping the Americans push the game from the beginning?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. “That bit us in the butt at the confederations cup against brazil. It’s almost like the USMNT has mercy on their opponents. Watch tomorrows game and you will see this in effect. ”

    You are talking about a debate in soccer tha has been going on since long before the US first got into the World Cup i.e. is there such a thing as a safe lead and what is it?

    It is clearly more complicated than just taking mercy on your opponents, which no one does by the way.

    As for the Brazil game, I saw that game and you are wrong about “They don’t try to score at all, they get into position then bring the ball back. ”

    They did atack all through the second half. Dempsey and Donovan had good chances and Gooch should have scored in the 87th minute to tie it, when he headed over from 10 yards. It’s just that in the second half Brazil was much better at attacking than the US. They do that to a lot of teams.

    My criticism of that game was I thought Bradley was too naive and should have put ten men in front of the goal as soon as the second half started if not earlier when he was up 2-0.

    I think he got arrogant and tried to play football with them and you just don’t win too often trying that.

  2. I doubt anyone on the USMNT underestimates El Tri.

    But I also doubt they are any more worried than they should be.

    Mexico are stylistically set up to score as often as possible while the US isn’t. If the US had gone up 3-0 on Cuba they would have slowed down but Mexico just doesn’t and good for them.

    Right now the in the Stanley Cup finals the Bruins have outscored the Canucks 14 goals to 6. The Bruins won games 3 and 4 by 8-1 and 4-0. Yet, after five games the Canucks lead the Bruins 3 games to 2. So when they win they score more than the Canucks.

    The point is,it is possible to be less attack minded and still win.

  3. “Under Bradley, he’s suffered because I can’t recall a game where he was played in his “second striker” “in the hole” favored position.”

    The problem is Bradley’s teams are not usually set up to play that way and if they were the first guy to fill that role would be Dempsey and then maybe Donovan.

    Now if Freddy had proven himself outstanding at the club level, if I were the the US manager then I might be tempted to give it a try. But he has never really had the kind of consistent sustained success at a high level club like Holden has had with Bolton or Chandler has had with Nurmburg to convince Bradley to have the kind of faith you suggest he should have in him.

    Adu is always going to be a peripheral figure with this team unless two things happen, the US changes how it plays AND he proves himself a better option than either Dempsey or Donovan at his favored position.

  4. Well if you want I can cover up our flaws and say that Agudelo and Altidore are goal scoring machines, they seem to have an impact in their clubs, you know since they start every game…while Chicharito is yet to make the starting lineup for Man-U, and Gio really dint help racing avoid relegation, and Denigris dint have anything to do wit Monterey winning the CCL with out losing a single game…Our Defense is world class just look at Gooch starting for Milan every game and look at all the chapionships Dolo and Bocanegra have….while Mexican defenders struggle to start with Psv,AZ Alkmar, and Fulham poor guys have never won anything in theirEuropean career…..We should mop the floor with Mexico especially with the tremendous year Bradley has had with Aston Villa, starting every game!!! I can talk pretty all day, but im realistic bro…I’ll try to hide our weaknesses, im blind!!


Leave a Comment