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Bradley, Zardes lead USMNT to impressive win vs. Panama

Panama v United States


CARSON, Calif. — After five winless months, the U.S. Men’s National Team finally put together a full 90-minute performance en route to a much-needed victory.

Led by outstanding play and attractive goals from Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey, the U.S. took down CONCACAF up-and-comers Panama, 2-0, before a boisterous crowd of 20,217 on a sunny day at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.

Bradley, who had been effective from the start in the attacking third, electrified the crowd in the 27th minute when he scored one of the rarest of goals, an Olimpico, sending his corner kick into the far top corner to and give the Americans a lead Panama never truly threatened.

“We’ve worked a lot on set pieces over the last six months or year,” Bradley said. “One of the ways we try to put pressure on the goal keeper is lining up a few guys right on the goal line. Obviously, as you can see today, the guys around the goalie did a great job, and the ball was not bad, and we got a goal from it.”

Dempsey flashed attacking flair throughout the match, and was rewarded when Gyasi Zardes sent him through for a run-in at Panamanian goal keeper Jaime Penedo. With a defender draped on his back, Dempsey still managed to get off a shot, and tapped home past a charging Penedo to double the U.S. lead in the 37th minute.

“Gyasi did a good job of running at the defense,” Dempsey said, “and I was trying to create space for him by running in the opposite direction, make a run into space, and see if he could find me. Credit to him, he had his head up, and played a perfect ball.”

Indeed, while Bradley, Dempsey, and Altidore linked up often and displayed the class that has earned them leadership roles in the U.S. Men’s National Team, it was the newcomer Zardes, enjoying his first start ever on the senior team, who added zest to the American attack. The Dempsey goal was created by Zardes, who gained possession of the ball in midfield, galloped past three Panamanian defenders, and then sliced the Red Tide’s center back pairing in half to send Dempsey in for the goal.

“I saw an opportunity to capitalize and step and just go on the counter,” Zardes said. “I saw Clint make an amazing run and I just fed him the ball because there was so much space, and I knew he would finish that one.”

Zardes’ excellent play did not go unnoticed by head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

“He has a lot of talent, a great attitude, and he’s hungry,” Klinsmann said. “He showed certain tools, not only his speed, but to hold the ball, to combine. The assist to Clint was just perfect timing.  That shows that he has something special.”

It was not all roses for the Americans, however. The back line was tested early, and several breakdowns in communication, as well as errant passes, gave Panama several opportunities on net, which forced starting goalkeeper Nick Rimando to make multiple saves.

Panama’s best chance came in the 40th minute, when a careless Rimando outlet pass forced center back Matt Besler to change directions to recover the ball. Besler slipped and fell, and suddenly Blas Perez was alone with Rimando, but Perez misfired wide, allowing the U.S. to maintain their clean sheet on the day.

“It’s a work in progress. A lot of it has to do with the fact that we always have a different roster coming into different games,” said Klinsmann when asked about his team’s defense. “That’s what these friendly games are for. You want to try certain things out, see how things work out.”

The second half turned into a chippy affair as the U.S. tightened their defense, and Panama saw less and less possession as frustration mounted. Second-half sub Chris Wondolowski found himself in repeated verbal scraps with Panamanian defenders, and ultimately earned himself a yellow card caution for his effort. The game calmed down after the substitutions began, and defender Matt Hedges and midfielder Perry Kitchen both earned their first cap for the USMNT.

“I am obviously pleased to see the team finish off this four-week camp in good style, lot of energy, a great crowd,” Klinsmann said. “It was really fun. The January camp is always about shortening their break, giving them a head start going into 2015, to be fit and ready to play a successful year.”

The U.S. winter camp concludes on a much needed high note, after struggling through the fall and winter campaign. The USMNT will gather again in Europe in March, when they will face Denmark on March 25th and Switzerland on March 31.


  1. Players I don’t want to see in a USMNT shirt again:.
    1. Wondo

    2. Rimando (we have a bubbling GK problem if we don’t start developing these younger guys. Goozan-spelling intentional- and Howard are two of the worst in England right now. And Timmy is getting old to boot.

  2. I know it sounds good but I don’t really buy into the whole battling for spots is the only kind of pressure that can get you better pov. Correct me if I’m wrong but does Lebron James; Kevin Durant; Steph Curry etc. EVER have to worry about losing their place as starters?No. But somehow they manage to improve their games. When you are THE star of your team there is a different kind of pressure. You now become the most accountable player for your teams success or failure. Granted you must have a good team around but if you’re not playing up to par you will get called out for it as the player getting paid the most. I think that’s an aspect a lot of people seems to miss. And also the desire to win also lends itself to want to improve.

    • …but we don’t have the STAR talent. If we had Lahm at outside back and Cesc Fabregas, then sure (even Cesc was held accountable and forced to sit).

  3. “With a defender draped on his back, Dempsey still managed to get off a shot, and tapped home past a charging Penedo to double the U.S. lead in the 37th minute.”

    chronologically it’s ambiguous but Penedo DID charge, only THEN did dempsey go around him and “with a defender draped on his back, Dempsey still managed to get off a shot…. ” etc.reordering the sentence fixes the problem; you are nitpicking…

    in reference to “flair/flare”, unless the article has been edited since (possible), Mr. Hornish used the correct term: flair.

    • The sad thing is that Bradley and Dempsey are already too old for the next WC. (see Donovan) Altidore is a club player only. No skills. Jones is only a holding midfielder at best. If we dont get a new lineup, We are in deep doo-doo.

      • This is so wrong I don’t want to be right. Dempsey is in the Donovan range, but Bradley will be 29 or 30. I dont even know why I’m responding to this tripe. I’m sorry I have

  4. Um, Dempsey didn’t “tap home beneath a charging Penedo.” He touched it around Penedo and scored into the now-empty goal. And unless he was carrying a flaming object, he showed attacking flair, not flare.

  5. For the record, it’s not like I thought Bob was a great coach. But people absolutely HATED HIM. And why? Because he didn’t have a sexy foreign background. Like they say, be careful what you wish for. Bob Bradley would have sold his soul to have a midfield with a 27 year old Michael Bradley and Mix Diskerud. And guess what? He would have forced Jermaine Jones to become a solid #6 like he was in Germany. This whole Jones experiment is just an insult to soccer. Sure, he plays with heart and conviction, but we HAD THAT IN ABUNDANCE with previous coaches. We just didn’t have much talent.

    I don’t watch all that much MLS, but I know there are two better fullbacks than Yedlin and Brek Shea. And I think anybody with some sense would have thought, why don’t we see what Zardes can do up top if Jozy has to come off.

    If you have to field all MLS’ers than why not:

    Franklin/Jewsbury– Gonzalez– Besler– Rogers/Sinovic

    As you can see, outside back remains a weakspot, but at least get guys who can defend a bit and shoot a decent cross from time to time.
    Oh… and teach them how to pass to each other without looking like a pack of AYSO kids.

    • Jones was the best player in the WC… He played midfield and kept in focus.(Jones does go a bit nuts in friendlies sometimes.)

      Yedlin’s crossing was fairly bad. One time he had 2 running in the middle unmarked and put the ball like 10 feet over their heads. It should have been a goal or at least a shot. I should point out that Yedlin didn’t even had a defender to beat.

    • Ummm, Pete, you do realize this was a January camp and the first time ever there’s been a mix of vets and young uns, with some people not playing a match for 3 months…
      Getting overworked about this is silly
      The camp served it’s purposes- Get some new blood, first time caps, keep the vets sharp, try a few things out, look for 1 or 2 gems to step up…eliminate a few who don’t belong

      The reaction over the last week-including one game broadcaster, you would think Russia is next month; Brek is our first and only choice at LB, Wondo will be wearing the captain’s armband, and Jones went from our best player in Brazil to Homer Simpson

      • And I think its exactly that kind of attitude that will keep us mired in mediocrity.

        There is talent in MLS. But IMHO it should be seen as an honor to represent the country.

        That means these guys should be training hard to show well.

        I stopped watching after the 48th minute.

        I agree that we can look forward to a sizable increase in the level of play come mid-season, but so many missed passes! I was embarrassed.

    • i think most people didn’t hate bradley because he was american, but because the team played BORING soccer. (personally, i don’t care as long as we’re winning.)

      and yes, i would like to see more of zardes up top. he did fine on the wings, but i’d like to see him get a start (either alongside jozy or replacing him). this would’ve been a great game for that, but whatever.

  6. Random thoughts:
    1. Rimando’s distribution was dreadful
    2. Wondo still can’t make solid contact when teed up to score. Great guy. Hard worker. Taking up opportunities for younger guys to get a run.
    3. Ibarra is not good enough for this level Neither is Shea. Enough already.
    4. Just like in Brazil, the team is weaker without Jozy in the lineup.
    5. I’m done with JK and his snake oil, and constant excuses. The question is, who’s next in line? Jason Kreis?
    6. Good to see MB90 at 100%. He’s not at his best, but still looking better than last year.
    7. MLS will be exciting this year. I know JK wants our players playing in the Champions League, but having Jozy, JJ Jr., MB90, etc. in MLS makes the league better and puts butts in the seats.

    The end.

    • #4 Jozy is weird. He isn’t great but lordy not having him hurts the team so much.

      #7 At some point it would be nice to have a super star. =/ Just one Kevin de Bruyne. Pleeaseeeeee

      • If you are going to make fanciful wishes, why not wish for an Eden Hazard? Taylor Twellman complained today because we didn’t get past the Round of 16 this last WC, kind of ignoring the fact that Belgium is filled with superstars and they were a dark horse favorite to win it all. To use an overused phrase, it is what it is. We don’t have anywhere the talent that the top teams do, but a lot of fans fail to deal with this reality.

  7. Yep, Zardes started and played well. Good to see. And, Bradley stayed deeper in the formation and played well. Good to see. Still don’t like Jones on the backline. I wonder why Panama didn’t try to get around Yedlin or Shea very often? I wish Kitchen, Hedges, Gil & Nguyen would have come in a lot sooner.

  8. easssy on the superlatives my friend. panama B- team.

    I will say it is good to see MB come back and control a game, and clearly be the best player on the field. I (hope) that his awful form during the world cup was due to the foot injury he was carrying.

    Zardes was clearly the best of the young yanks. I missed the Chile game so this was the first time I watched him play with the nats. Speed and one the best attacking players on the field. Ibarra looks like he has some potential, and hustles like crazy, but he looked a bit lost at this level. Why does he still play for Minnesota United? You’d figure one MLS team would take a gamble.

    • Portland cut Ibarra back when Spencer was in charge. He’s probably the type of player Porter likes but based on yesterday’s performance he doesnt look better than anyone they have on the left. I’m sure Ibarra’s good enough to be on an MLS team but could he be a starter? I doubt it, at least not yet. That probably has a lot to do with why in still in MN. I’ve also heard MLS teams have expressed interest in him but have been too cheap in their dealings. Regardless, it is ridiculous he gets a start while there are guys regularly starting and starring in MLS who haven’t gotten a start or a cap.

  9. All I gotta say, kilnsi needs to go if not the national team is in trouble. This team sucks, and the national team has no good future and they might be in trouble of not even making Russia.
    I also got to say, kilnsi is not a coach, he’s more of a front office guy and he wants to help so much the US, but he can’t do it all.
    Bradley, jozy, altidore are all over rated and play in MLS. MLS is not a top league and it will hurt them at the end.
    Mix should have stayed in Europe, Rimando is an MLS goalkeeper, jones needs a real position, zardes is not ready for the national team and klins needs to stop playing around.

      • They say the same thing when we win or lose…

        It was a decent win vs a team we are better than. People act like this was our A squad too. While it had the spine, we lacked starters on both the right and the left side. Ours was Bish as well.

        Brek as a left back? He isn’t starting there. He would be like…. 5th choice and right now Yedlin is prolly 3rd choice right back. Ibarra? Zardes? Not our starting wings. 3rd choice there too.

      • Who are all these better fullbacks? Fabian who is playing in the midfield now, alright. Chandler ? Who never shows all that well in a US shirt. Garza barely ever goes past the half way line. Who is so much better on the wings? Bedoya? has like 3 goals in over 30 appearances. Maybe they are all a slight up grade but not that much.

    • I am not a JK lover, but I think your reasoning is very suspect.

      I find it impossible to fault any soccer player for making a move to maximize his income in what is a short career of uncertain duration.

      MLS players are: one, all that were avialable for this pair of games and
      two the best players we have in several positions. Bedoya, Cameron, F. Johnson, Guzan, Howard and recently Garza might lay claim to 5 spots but players like Brooks, Johannsson, Rubio, Chandler and maybe Hyndman are on the cusp, they have not looked like they were ready to replace the MLS players presently in front of them.

    • It was mentioned during the broadcast that this losing streak was the worst by the national team since 1999 and we all know how badly the national team played in the 2002 World Cup. Yep, time to give up all hope.

      • i don’t really care about wins or losses in friendlies, but just to give even more perspective: 1999 was bruce arena’s first year on the job, most of which he spent cleaning up the mess from 1998.

  10. There are three things I learned today, 1. zyassi may be the real deal was impressed with his passing lets see if he can score. 2. Wondo Still sucks with the Nats and is taking playing time from real prospects 3. The redirects from this site are utterly annoying

    • 4) Klinsi’s face said it all…. We looked like crap against a #55 B team. He better get this ship turned around cause it sucks, and we should be doing a whole hell of a lot better given the tools he has.

  11. Everyone is ragging on the opponent but that was the opponent. Who cares. It’s not an international break so u aren’t gonna get the best competiton

  12. Wow. This site has really dropped off. That was one if the worst matches I’ve seen from the U.S. in years. Talk about the emperors new clothes! Bring Bradley back, because if you think this is an improvement over what he was producing you are wrong. Where to start?
    This was one of the worst displays of passing I have ever seen. One mis-hit corner and an opponent that absolutely fell asleep on defense, and all is forgiven? You gotta be kidding me! Give Mike Bradley this team. Form the team around him, Jozy, and Besler, and Mix. I love Jones, but he should not be a guaranteed starter. When a team can’t string passes together, it’s a sign you have a BIG PROBLEM. Thank you Panama for the confidence booster, but we would have had stiffer competition from Chivas USA. Klinsmann raus.

    • Man, you’re so right!!! Bob Bradley made everyone such better passers!!! Where is that guy when we need him? I thought players improved when they were forced to put the work in. Here in MLS, I don’t see any of the USMNT’ers riding the pine regardless of how their form or training level is. Kasey Keller probably has no idea what he’s talking about.

  13. Does anyone know if this was a Panama B team or lower? They seemed much weaker than they were in WC Qualifying.

    Disappointed that Lee N only got like 15 minutes or so. Why JK is wasting minutes on Wondo is beyond me. Wondo had one chance and tripped over the ball. I thought the Jan camp was for upcoming talent to get a hard look. How does that work if JK gives 90 minutes to Bradley and lions share of the minutes to well known players

  14. Its good that they are punching below their weight. (#55) They have to do better against teams #27 and up before we know anything.

  15. Just watched espn bootroom post game
    Keller went into depth about 2 major challenges JK faces this year:

    1. The upcoming schedule leading up to the Gold Cup with so many players back in MLS. He described his past experience with the core of the team in Europe, the scheduling and travel challenges etc. He also said for example if the Belgium coach suddenly had all his players return and play in the Belgium league, he’d be frustrated and concerned and be saying the exact same things JK has been saying
    2. Bob Ley brought this up and Keller went into depth- Its a totally different dynamic when in Europe you are auditioning for your job every week, and even if you’re doing well a team can just go buy someone to replace you. That constantly kept you fighting and training and constantly out of your comfort zone. Nobody is pushing our MLS core players, they won’t see the bench, & it’s a different and concerning dynamic.

    I wish they would have gone through all this on the broadcast, because 99.99% of fans didn’t hear it.

    When JK says these things, he’s blasted, skewered, and the interwebs and Lalas explode!
    When Keller, Ley, and even Twellman say them, it’s a totally different story….

    • +1

      I watched it too and they brought up some great points that sadly never made it into the main broadcast. Their analysis and temperament was a million times better with Lalas there making unnecessary noise. They really elaborated on JKs talking points and concerns. It was some great stuff.

      I loved it when they touched on the loss of league play during call-ups (because MLS does not break for the FIFA calendar) that will lead to less games for USMNT players. Great stuff on how JK is trying to start the broader conversation on how to address these issues and make not only the Nats better but MLS as well.

      • I’m glad someone else watched it. That was some of the more productive reporting and discussion I’ve seen in some time. Even Twellman had to agree when he was discussing his Jan camp experiences….
        Though the way he puts it, he phrases things as if it’s JKs fault…. where Keller said “It’s nobody’s fault, it just is the way it is, but it’s an extremely important issue”

    • Constantly fighting for your job makes you play safe and predictable to satisfy your coach. This fighting for your your job thing is a fantasy written by diletants who have no clue.

      • When it comes to sports, & athletes.. you’re just flat out wrong.
        What you speak of is Peter Gibbons talking in front of the two Bobs

      • That or it makes your play far more selfish. Why pass it off and let the guy who could take my job have the glory when I can go for goal. How often do you see guys taking 40 yard shots they have no business taking rather then the clear through ball. You see it all the time in the premier league because most clubs are just stepping stones anyway.

    • Before the game they talked about all the criticism JK has received. As pointed out postgame, and as I have covered in some of my posts, there are a lot of variables which complicate a national team coach’s job. And JK has to try to win the Gold Cup in 2015, do well in Copa America in 2016, and then qualify for and play in the 2018 World Cup and will often have to use a lot of different players to do so. It’s my opinion that a lot of US fans are naive about all the elements involved.

    • I beg to differ, Tim Cahill couldn’t keep his starting spot in MLS but had no problem keeping it in the Premier League. It all depends on the team and the coach you are with.

  16. If anybody thinks Yedlin will see time time with Spurs this year then I have a bridge I’d like to sell you. If he can’t handle Chile’s third team or Panama he has no business playing in the EPL.

    • that or he’s just a really young player whom the Spurs purchased with hopes of A) developing him into a better player to turn a profit later and B) gaining, even if only small, a connection to more US fans; if Yedlin progresses over the next two years, more and more US fans will buy Spurs kits, US fans will want to watch, etc– US market is a good market to tap into… lol

      point being, Yedlin differs from a 26,27 y.o. going overseas. Yedlin’s potential is what Spurs value. He wasn’t purchased to come over and start– and that isn’t a bad thing. Youth + Potential = Patience.

      • I thought England didn’t develop young talent. I was told so here. Are they making an exception for Yedlin ? I highly doubt it.

      • Harry Kane disagrees with u. In all seriousness Spurs have done a fine job integrating academy players into their first team but I don’t really ever see yedlin being a big part of their team

      • hes not an academy player. hes a foreigner trying to take some English kids job. He better be good right from the start.

    • Based solely on those two games he looks like Marvell Wynne 2.0 with some attacking upside. He needs some serious coaching at Spurs to become a factor in the fall.

      • Hahaha… it was a good analogy… but a bit over-the-top if we are to be totall honesgt. Marvell Wynne was perhaps the greatest comedy act we’ve ever fielded in “defense”. Wynne literally had no idea where anybody in the opposing attack was situated at any time. His positioning was jaw-droppingly confusing…. David Luiz vs. Germany was exquisitely aware by comparison.

        Yedlin is just a young guy with lessons to learn. Whether he puts in the effort and focus to do this is up to him. But I wouldn’t say he is “behind the curve” or anything like that. Twellman had an interesting remark during the match about “what might have been” had Yedlin been able to spend time as Cherundolo’s understudy as the USMNT’s right back-in-waiting, rather than being thrown into the mix on the highest stage at such a young age.

        While I think this is probably over-weighting the amount/value of the time these players get to spend together as part of the NT group (which ain’t much, in the grand scheme of things… for any team), the point remains apt. Good mentorship could go a long way for the kid..he seems to have a good attitude about his development — he’ll need it. He has it in him to really become something, but he isn’t there yet and in fact he isn’t really close yet. Mistakes from fullbacks at the top level are almost always very expensive, and he is still making them at a regular clip. But I would say he’s “on track” to the best we can reasonably expect at his age. Focus is the key.

      • Yeah the comparison was probably a little unfair to young Deandre but hey at least Marvell once “shut down” C. Ronaldo in a friendly.

        But I made that comparison partly to show that just because someone has all the speed in the world it doesn’t mean anything, unless they know how to apply it correctly.

      • The buzz on Yedln is not just because he was fast like Wynne, but because he played very well in his appearances at the World Cup.

  17. Zardes looks like what I thought he was.

    He’s going to be a fixture in the 23.

    Nguyen didn’t really get enough minutes but IMHO I like his technicality every time I watch him play.

    Besler had better tighten up, or Brooks is going to take the starting LCB gig from him, and soon.

    Other than that, what’s to say? Easy win, could have been a lot worse. Doesn’t do much for the USMNT to play many games like this outside of qualifying. Keep playing Chile and Colombia, even if people grumble when you lose.

    • +! besides the Besler part. I thought Besler played fine. the 40′ mishap was more due to Rimando’s weak pass than Besler’s slipping

    • Low expectations from the faithful? They should always win, that is the purpose of competing; especially, with the resources we have at our disposal. Being realistic of course, they should win +/- 75% of their matches against B level plus opponents. No excuses.

      • Did all the MLS staff and their clubs post their anti JK comments?
        You bullied him into starting some vets to get a win.
        Better off trying youth and losing now, winning tourneys later.

      • What are you saying? A country with 300 million people and unlimited resources should be able to beat a country we invented when we wanted to dig a ditch from the pacific to the atlantic?

    • +1 Good observations. One of the most impressive things about Zardes is the shape of his learning curve…. it is constantly moving upward. While his goal-scoring record in MLS last year had some “peaks and troughs”, those who watched him week-in and week-out saw that the guy really never stopped improving. Keeps getting himself into better and better spots. Better touches. Increased patience and improved understanding. Every time.

      The guy must be a coach’s dream. He is soaking it all up and translating it into performance. He could have an absolutely monstrous 2015.

  18. Dear Wondo, thanks ( i guess) for your services given to the USMNT but we no longer need you. at least we’ll always have the WC2014 memory…

    • Agreed. I guess his services start and end with scoring against CONCACAF minnows and South Korea’s B team. Oh and acting like a fool against Panama in a friendly.

      • He looked like a complete fool. Running around like a spaz trying to be a tough guy was a sight to behold. At least, we in attendance got the added value for our hard earned money. No one mentioned a comedy act was being added to the this friendly! What is up with JK? Please don’t come back with the rhetorical “who would have play striker in his place” BS. Stumbling and bumbling with the ball at his feet….embarrassing

      • But yes, he will be phased out in due time. Especially if Zardes can put together a couple of games like this one…

    • Davis, Lennon, Observer & Associates That was a really snarky comment and uncalled for.

      .Wondo, accompanied by his favorite goonies, should get the chance to meet you in a dark alley you all by yourself.

      • I got your back D,L,O&A I’d like to get a few shot’s at that clown myself. If I never watch a match featuring Wondo again, I’d be OK.

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