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Poor start dooms USA in upset loss to Panama

USA Panama 1 (Getty Images)



TAMPA – The U.S. men's national team entered its game on Saturday night with an unblemished record against Panama and in the all-time history of the group stages in the Gold Cup.

Both unbeaten records were broken at Raymond James Stadium after Panama held off a comeback effort from the United States and defeated the Americans, 2-1, in a Group C match played in front of 27,731 fans.

The Americans fell behind 2-0 in the first half, but a Clarence Goodson headed goal and a number of chances in the final 15 minutes of the match almost saw them pull out a result.

"(A loss) was bound to happen at some point," said Landon Donovan. "CONCACAF teams are getting better and better. It's a pretty good team that we played against. It's disappointing but the reality is that it's over now. We've got to learn something from it."

Panama jumped out on top in the 19th minute when Goodson scored an own goal after Tim Howard made a save on Eduardo Dasent's headed effort.The Panamanians doubled their lead 17 minutes later when Gabriel Gomez scored off a penalty kick following a Tim Ream foul.

"I went to clear it and as I was swinging I was already committed and (Blas Perez) gave me a little nudge," said Ream. "It was on my right side and as I was swinging through I caught him."

The United States rallied in the second half, cutting the lead to one on Goodson's goal, but several quality chances went begging, including a point-blank open look from Chris Wondolowski that was easier to make than miss.

Panama came out with plenty of energy and out-hustled a flat-looking USA squad. The forward tandem of Blas Perez and Luis Tejada gave Goodson and Ream headaches all match long, with Perez forcing Ream into a penalty foul and Tejada forcing Goodson into an own goal.

""It wasn't that we were so flat, we still moved the ball and had some chances," said Donovan of how the United States started the match. "We were just a little off for some reason and I wish I had an answer (as to why we start slow). If I knew the answer we wouldn't be in that (situation)."

The U.S. midfield that dominated Canada struggled badly to cope with Panama's pace and movement. Second-half substitutes Alejandro Bedoya and Sacha Kljestan gave the team energy, but the United States couldn't finish off the handful of quality chances it created late in the match.

"We had the ball in some pretty good spots but still didn't finish plays off," said U.S. head coach Bob Bradley.

The win gave Panama first place in Group C with six points while the United States falls to second with three points and the tiebreaker of head-to-head against third-place Canada.

"Panamanians (as a people) don't need a reason to celebrate, but this will definitely make them celebrate," said Valdes.

The Americans must now beat Guadeloupe in the final group game to earn a top two finish in Group C. The United States could still finish first in Group C if Canada beats Panama in their final group match and the USA has a better goal difference than both Canada and Panama.


What do you think of the Americans' 2-1 loss to Panama? Who impressed/disappointed you? Still can't believe the U.S. team lost its first ever Gold Cup group stage match?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. That’s a pretty good observation. The USA is known to be a physical team with conditioning beyond most other teams. I would agree that you see either a team play technical soccer or physical soccer (usually not both, maybe germany and italy). But i believe that if you had to choose which style to play it should be technical. If your already fit and big and normally play physical it’s hard to switch to technical play in the middle of a game. Not so hard the other way around. Basic observation of the game has to lead me to conclude that if you have the ball, move the ball, and dictate the pace of play you win more than you lose. Flattery is the best form of imitation and nobody imitates the American style of soccer.

  2. OK, I have a question here. It may sound sarcastic, but it’s not. I’m just a soccer newbie trying to figure things out. It seems as though the match commentators (and the players in their pre-game interviews) kept warning about how this could be a tough game for the US because Panama is such a physical team.

    I thought that was our (perhaps only) strength, i.e. that we’re fast and strong and can run forever, but lack many players with the technical skills of countries with more of a soccer pedigree? If we lost to Spain because they’re such a technical team, and then lost to Panama because they’re such a physical team, are there any types of teams out there that we are SUPPOSED to beat?

  3. I have always been a supporter of Bob Bradley, but for the United States to progress as a squad, I think it is time for a big name coach. I will throw out the name everyone is probably tired of hearing, but Klinsmann seems like a good option. Let him redesign the youth ranks if it means the US will develop young talent better.

    I have also never been a Dempsey fan, but he was easily the best player for the United States during that match. Donovan turned in his typical disappearing act, and our wings didn’t seem to be able to get in a decent cross. I can accept the mistakes of Agudelo, Ream, and any of the younger players, but it’s time to bring in a top notch coach that can make this team more competitive at the international level.

  4. I don’t know…it’s a volunteer position, and he is the “head” of USSF. I have been wondering that myself. I guess someone would have to run against him and win…

  5. I think it was about the yellow card, more than anything. But Bradley also got one…Jones did not play as well as he did against Canada, but he did break up some attacks and tracked back on D well when Goodson was pushed up for set pieces.

  6. It is not about lineups, its about attitude and stagnation. USA just needs a change. Bob Bradley isn’t a bad manager, we just need something new. We need someone on the sideline that these players aren’t used to. Spice things up. How many other nat teams around the world have coaches as long as we have had BB? Not many. I guess us Americans and Sunil Gulati with our rich soccer history are just smarter than the rest of the world. Right..

  7. Maurice Edu didn’t finish the season very well but he played really well in the Champions League, in Europa League, and against Celtic earlier on in the season.

  8. Dave, if we take 3rd place in our group we play Mexico in the quarters… and that would be it.

    Myself, I just keep thinking, if this tourney stinks enough it *may* be enough for Gulati to do what’s right.

    Hopefully though it would NOT mean a mercenary like Hiddink or Advocaat. This team needs a shake-up. Even the veterans are just way too comfortable (see LD’s performance last night).

  9. By now, everyone has witnessed the tactical limitations of BB.

    Starting an unexperienced player over better alternatives such as Bocanegra and Spector. Spector would have been a better choice over Ream as he reads and distributes the ball better and has more experience (Man Utd/West Ham vs NYRB). Usually you pair the two central defenders with qualities complementing each other. Goodson and Boca in there at the same time would not give you the ability to distribute intelligently from the back either. But even if Boca was in there with Goodson, it would not been as bad as Ream over the two games we saw (Spain & Panama).

    In the midfield, Bedoya and Klestjan were brought in to provide creativity. This validates the way BB has been playing with two ball winners was ineffective, even against minnows such as Panama. In soccer today, decent teams learn how to cope with air balls/crosses.

    You can no longer get away with crossing the ball and hope the other teams make defensive mistakes for you to score.

    Against better teams, you have to unlock their defenses. This is why Bedoya and Klestjan were brought into the game. Adu would have provided the ability to unlock and unsettle their defense. But then the Adu haters would say he’s lazy and doesn’t play defense. Does Messi or any other attacking midfielder play defense? That’s what a ball winner/defensive midfielders are for.

    Anyways, conclusion is that BB’s tactics are inept and fans are not as ignorant as USSF thinks. We can do better with current players, and a new coach.

  10. is 30k really that bad for a soccer game?? It’s no Camp Nou number but I don’t think that’s a poor showing at all.

  11. Yes Ream was unsteady, but how about Donavan’s performance on the field? Yes, half his free kicks and corners were ok, but his play on the field was absolutely horrible. With a performance like that he should bot be starting.

  12. Its not as if we have the players. We don’t have a good striker unless you count Dempsey as one. Our midfield isn’t getting time either. Our defense is depending on a center back who plays in Scandanavia. Enough said.

  13. Further, I have never been impressed with Ream nor Goodso they simply do not play with any fire like Demerit.

    I have been coaches bradley supporter, but he simply cannot the same things over and over and expect a diffrent result.

  14. That last play does not make up for the numerous times he was out of position, gave up the ball in key spots, was completely winded the entire second half, was targeted with great balls yet he did nothing with them, and he was downright lazy. Check every player rating from the match and all of them have Jozy lower than Agudelo or even

  15. We need a creative midfielder. I simply do not understand playing with two defensive midfielders at this level. The midfield is not linking with the Forwards.


  16. Bradley needs to go…. Only in the USA does advancing out of your World Cup group grant you another 4 years. National team coaching is a 2-4 year gig. Fire him now and bring in some non American blood who will not be influenced to take players from the same pool but look all around our country/Europe and find the best American players no matter what team we play for.

    Where does this national team want to go? Everyone said the Spain result was fine and look what we did to Canada for a more fair look at USA soccer. I say to that, who are we trying to compete with, Canada or the Spains of the world? If you are content on beating the Canada’s and then getting crushed by the Spains then Bradley is your guy. If you want to try and compete you need to find a new coach.

    Also, check out the MLS Castro Index. 3 CB are in the top ten and none are on the Gold Cup Roster or invited to the camp.

    Tim Ream is #42

  17. Jose Torres isnt a play maker, that is a complete myth created on message boards. The thought that “Mixx” is somehow a “playmaker” and Dempsey isnt is completely laughable.

  18. Kljestan has been playing well lately… Certainly better than Edu and is much better going forward. WTFolowski has no business on the national team however.

  19. we had no width, plain and simple. Also not sure why we were trying to push so hard in the first half. We know the game they play, just pass it around, nickle and dime, a goal will happen from a set piece with due time. Instead we make careless turnovers and allow them to do the only thing they can do, counter.

  20. Tim Ream is not ready for international play and may never be. Another solid MLS player who can’t make it internationally. He was torched against Spain, and now this disaster.

    We need to see Zak Whitbread, who is moving up to the Premier with Norwich. Probably another Jay DeMerit type, but that would be vastly superior to what Ream has shown so far.

  21. “now is not the time
    For the young guys to get experience”

    If the other guys (and their coach) seemed focused and prepared and intent on winning, I would naturally agree with this. I think everyone would, as it’s an important tournament.

    But since that “If” evidently is not the case, there is no longer any reason to say that now is not the time for the young guys not to get experience.

  22. Hmm, apparently your TV was following the ball. You need that new “chalkboard view” — I’m not sure you’ll understand, but at least you’ll see

  23. Decent point, but we were EXTREMELY lucky to survive the group stage. Can’t count on the stars to align like that

  24. Alejandro…and last night the vast majority of Hispanic fans at Ray Jay were wearing Dempsey and Donovan shirts – and I’m a gringo…a decent international coach would be able to adjust our style of play between the beautiful passing game or the physical direct style….Bunker Bob and that Midget Gulati have their heads in the sand

  25. Look people there is a time and place for everything, now is not the time
    For the young guys to get experience. Bobo should not be messing around with experimental line ups and tactics this a time
    To be serious. I don’t see Mexico messing around, granted they are playing somewhat weak teams but they are destroying them. That’s what we need to be doing Canada should have been at least 4-0 same with panama. Landon is wrong saying that teams in concacaf are getting better and better. Really? Last time I remeber we beat Spain tied England had brazil shaking on their boots and now concacaf teams are strong seems to me he needs a little bit of medicine called “Man the F Up”

  26. i agree about BB, the team just has hit a plateau. but the selection in the Gold Cup hasn’t been bad. Other than players like Rogers and Wondo, this will be the core group that goes to Brasil in 2014. The only thing I can think you mean is the backline, but who would you replace Boca and Dolo with?! There is no one ready…at all. And since Chandler didn’t come, don’t say Chandler.

  27. Bob Bradley should go. Half the team he picked should go. It is time to start rebuilding, let’s see what some new blood will bring.

  28. I’m starting to think this, too: pull a Germany and go with the young crowd.

    Yes, I realize we’re not Germany, so it’s not like we’re going to just duplicate in Brazil the (even to them) surprising success Germany had with that young crowd of theirs in South Africa. I’m not saying that, and it doesn’t appear that you are, either. But the way things are going — and especially if we’re not going to make a change in the coaching — what else is there to do? What is there to lose (more than we’re losing now)?


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