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USMNT overcomes another slow start to tie Panama in group-stage finale

Michael Bradley USMNT 33

Photo by Peter G. Aiken/USA TODAY Sports


The U.S. Men’s National Team is making a habit of finding ways to get results despite playing far from its best.

The U.S. used a second-half goal from captain Michael Bradley to overcome a drab first half and grab a 1-1 draw with Panama at a hot Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas, on Monday night. The Americans fell behind in the 34th minute of the Group A finale after Blas Perez took advantage of some poor defending, but Alejandro Bedoya fed Bradley for the equalizer 10 minutes after the break.

The result saw Jurgen Klinsmann’s side, which had already won the group last Friday, finish with seven points. Panama, meanwhile, placed third with three points after seeing Haiti move to second by stunning Honduras, 1-0, earlier in the day.

Bradley came through for the Americans in one of their best passing sequences of the night. Some interchanging play between Alejandro Bedoya, Gyasi Zardes and Clint Dempsey allowed Bedoya to deliver a well-weighted cross that Bradley pushed home with a diving effort.

The goal was Bradley’s 14th for the U.S., and first since scoring an Olimpico in a 2-0 win over Panama in a friendly back in February.

Bradley’s 55th-minute strike helped the U.S. dig out of the hole it fell in when Perez capitalized on some shoddy defending in the 34th minute.

Though replays showed Luis Tejada was offside at the start of the play, the Panamanian attacker got on the ball inside the 18-yard box and turned easily on young centerback Ventura Alvarado in the penalty area. Tejada then hit a low ball to Perez, who snuck between John Brooks and Timmy Chandler to push home the opener from close range.

The Americans’ defense had been tested on several occasions prior to that. Tejada had even scored in the 10th minute by getting on the end of a free kick, but the goal was called back for offside.

U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan was also called into action in the 22nd minute, stopping a corner kick that ricocheted off Alvarado before having to block the strong rebounded effort from Valentin Pimentel.

One of the biggest talking points came in the 41st minute, as the U.S. appealed strongly for a penalty kick.

Starting forward Chris Wondlowski played Bedoya through on goal, but the veteran midfielder was clipped by Harold Cummings. Replays showed that the incident occurred outside the penalty area, but the referee allowed play to continue nonetheless.

While the Americans struggled with possession until Clint Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin were inserted at halftime, they did test Jaime Penedo twice in the first half. Penedo alertly pounced on a low cross from Bedoya in the 16th minute, and stopped a knuckling effort from distance from Bradley two minutes later.

The U.S. played better in the second half, both with and without the ball, but still gave up some looks to Panama. Guzan came up big on one play in the 75th minute, reacting well to stop a one-timed effort from substitute Miguel Camargo at the near post.

Kyle Beckerman had the Americans’ best chance to take the lead two minutes later, but his sizzling shot from outside the penalty area went wide of the goal by a couple of feet.

The U.S. now has to wait to see which nation it will face at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland, in the quarterfinals of the Gold Cup on Saturday. The opponent will be either the third-place finisher of Group B or C.

Klinsmann can make alterations to his squad, as CONCACAF allows up to six personnel changes after the group stage.


What do you think about the USMNT’s 1-1 draw with Panama? Which players impressed/disappointed you? Concerned with the level of the Americans’ performances thus far?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. So where are the people who wanted Dempsey suspended for the Gold Cup all because he ripped up a referees card in the Open Cup (not international play mind you)?

    Also where are the people that wanted to see Deuce eased out of the equation? Until he stops producing, Dempsey NEEDS to be on this team. He has been vital. Not only that, but he received a couple passes that he wanted to one time shot (and probably would have put away) if they were placed right, and they weren’t difficult passes to make (I’m looking at you Johannson). His positioning, his finishing, and his overall ability to get things going and maintain play in the final third is absolutely essential. No player that can remotely fill the role like him in our pool right now

  2. One thing this game produced is a lot of good comments here. This is some of the best fan analysis I can recall seeing about US soccer.

    •  The US won its group , advanced and is undefeated.

       So far in every game the first half has been bad and the second half has been much better. One thing about soccer is it is a 90 minute game so this is a good thing.

       The next round opponent looks to be underwhelming; then again they all look underwhelming. However every US opponent take sit up to another level for the US.

       In spite of what appears to be some nasty heat and humidity, the USMNT looks more fit than everyone they have played.

       Zardes did not seize his chance to be the next great US soccer saviour.

      • No, Zardes isn’t looking like the national soccer savior, but was anyone saying that about him? Honest question, because I don’t recall hearing that. What I have heard some fans maintaining – some from his college days – that he’ll be a USMNT starter, and right now odds are looking pretty good for that in the next World Cup.

      • “Zardes isn’t looking like the national soccer savior, but was anyone saying that about him?”

        On SBI? Sure. Lots of people have already dumped Jozy and have Zardes entrenched as his successor.

      • In knockout phases, soccer can turn from a 90 minute game to a 120 minute game. Being fitter than your opponent helps when that happens.

  3. I am really confused about the state of the US National team. Based in some part, I have to admit, on internet chatter, I thought the Gold Cup games would be a manifestation of a new look US team, playing skillful, efficient attacking soccer — all the things Jurgen is supposed to bring to the program. The team would build on its victories against big European teams and simply brush aside the CONCACAF minnows in a way it had never done before. Jurgen promised a Gold Cup win, and we may still get it, but I expected a stylish, technically proficient effort.
    We have seen attacking soccer. That’s for sure. No more careful countering for us. But the skill and efficiency have been noticeably missing. And instead of a stable squad clearly headed for big wins in the future, we have a lineup in constant flux and appearances by players who, once on the field, don’t seem to have much future at this level or need a lot more preparation to perform at this level.
    And we have also seen the departure of the hard working, scrappy team that won lots of 50-50 balls and so on.
    It’s just not what I expected.

    • Woodie,

      I agree, but part of it is the heat, part is the competition, part is the refs. People refer to it as CONACAF ball. I don’t understand why the refs are the way they are, but they allow an enourmous amount of rough play, and they eat their whistles for long stretches… which makes it very difficult to look fluid, skillful or efficient). I mean, its been since the dutch played spain in the world cup since I saw a team come out and look to kick the other into submission like Honduras did.

      As for flux, yeah… the team is still in flux. Remember this is year one of the world cup cycle. We will look better at copa america and the confederations cup… and hopefully we will be peaking in 2018.

    • I doubt you will ever see skillful, fluid, attacking football in Concacaf group play. Last night, the US probably hoped to escape with at least one point, no injuries and no yellow card suspensions. They lost Brooks on yellow cards, but that shouldn’t be a problem. What’s a little more difficult to figure is why certain players haven’t raised their games. You can see why Demps, or MB, or FJ might be tempted to coast in a meaningless game, but for guys who are trying to make a claim on a position, it’s difficult to understand why the play seemed so passive, especially in the first half. I give props to Yedlin especially for changing the energy level of the USA.

      • All true (fields, refs, opposition) but, to take the extreme example, Barcelona looks like the same exquisite side regardless of field, refs and opposition. I am just not seeing any signs that the US is moving to the “next level.” In fact, in terms of defensive lapses, we seem to be moving in the wrong direction.
        If Jurgen had said what posters are saying — that it’s early in the WC cycle and we are still experimenting or whatever, I would understand, but he has been talking about a big win and as if it’s really important. Perhaps he simply doesn’t take the opposition seriously, and until you get to Mexico and Costa Rica (at least based on past performances) that may be the right attitude.

      • Woodie man, A) I think you are absolutely wrong about Barcelona when they play against Jose Mourinho teams they look like shit. Why? because Jose’s guys kick them all over the field… and so the players start goose-stepping towards the balls. They hear footsteps, and the rythm is broken up. Same with Sapin v. netherlands in the final… Spain did not look pretty in that game.

        I will give you, though, that spain has more patience than the US back-line. Until after the 70th minute, we were not content passing it around the back for a while to draw panama up.

        B) I think JK has been extremely clear that it is early and he is experimenting. How many times does he have to say that before people hear him say it? he had IDK how many uotes about sometimes losing matches to bring in your guys… and giving our back-line reps to build their experience. What more do you want him to say? I mean he is kind of double talking when he says he takes the gold cup seriously… but both can be true. He takes it seriously, and is trying to win it within the structure of blooding young guys and generally experimenting for the future.

      • FCB would look terrible being called by a rookie CONCACAF official, too. There’s two reasons that when Euro clubs tour CONCACAF, they pretty much stick to the US. The first is money. The second is that we – thanks to MLS – have more consistent referees. For the life of me, I cannot understand assigning such a green referee to Gold Cup. I understand that everyone has a first, second, and third time, but that’s what friendlies, CONCACAF sub-regional tournaments, and the first and second round (the minnow rounds) of CONCACAF WCQ are for.

  4. In the first half, Brooks undercut Perez’s header attempt. Then he sat on the ground and grabbed Perez’s leg. Very lucky that Panama didn’t get a penalty kick for either of those actions. It’s in the context of a referee who swallows his whistle, but still very risky play from the defender.

    About the field: We’ve had massive rains in the last week this area so I don’t think you can help but have some soft ground.

    • Do you mean the header attempt by the PAN attacker should came from behind him and tried to jump over his back? That one? Grabbing the leg was dumb, but granting a penalty to the “undercut” would have been extremely harsh seeing as the defender wasn’t looking at the attacker and had no idea he was there until contact occurred.

    • Beckerman doesn’t suck… but he’s looked good the past 3 games. I’ve seen some typical Beckerman smart plays, but yeah, he’s not been playing well.

  5. Beasley seems like a smart addition to the team. It frees up FJ to fill ether the left midfield gap or right back gap in the 11.
    I’ve not been impressed with either Brooks or Avlvarado. Brooks especially has the potential to be the best player on the team but his inconsistency is hurting us. Alvarado has some of the same qualities but he has been caught out defensively too often.

    I’d like to see a formation change and come out with something like this…


  6. You have to think there’s going to be a huge butcher’s bill for a lot of these teams and a lot of them are about to hit the wall. The heat, the physicality, the number of hard/dirty challenges these players are absorbing, the number of games these teams are playing…this definitely ain’t vintage showpiece soccer, it’s more of a triathlon run with guys making studs-up tackles along the way, while refs wearing innocent clueless expressions strangely fail to notice.

    Yeah, baby. CONCACAF.

    Some observations:
    1) Deuce and Bradley are utterly indispensable. Watching them stand over the ball on a late free kick and surveying the field and deploy the troops, it was incredibly obvious it was “their” team now.
    2) It would not shock me a bit if DeMarcus Beasley gets one last call-up to stabilize the OB positions. I’d expect Run DMB to resume his left-back duties while FJ moves over to right back, which has been the biggest problem on the field. Speaking of right back, expect Klinsmann to put out a great big Help Wanted sign over that position at the end of the tournament. He cannot be even kinda-sorta happy with Timmy Chandler at the moment, though who’s in the 35 he could call up to replace him at the moment?
    3) Morales is going home. He is distinctly Not Ready and therefore surplus to Gold Cup requirements. Altidore is almost certainly going home as well.
    4) A brief scan of the 35-man roster shows there’s slim pickings on the 35-man roster and that will limit replacements. Brek Shea – who is hurt – and Morris – who just had surgery – could probably have helped us. Don’t see much else there. Best guess is that JK sacrifices Morales for Damarcus Beasley, and Altidore for Agudelo or maybe Alan Gordon, though you know Bruce Arena will scream loudly about JK taking yet another Galaxy player with as many matches as LA is in the middle of right now. And I think Juan Agudelo’s Latin savvy and clean first touch might be exactly what the doctor ordered right now anyhow. JK might also swap out Zusi for Corona if Zusi’s knock was indeed serious.
    5) The starting lineup has simplified a bunch. Zardes/Deuce will start up top. Bedoya, Bradley, and Yedlin are locks at midfield. Yedlin absolutely locked down a spot last night, since he’s so useful on both defense and then zips up and becomes another forward in the attack and the guy can run forever – and I would expect Beasley/Ream/Gonzalez/FJ to start the next game of necessity across the backline. Only question is whether JK starts Beckerman or Mix at the holding mid spot. Beckerman would have been a shoe-in, but his legs look like they’re starting to go. Mix might get one last crack to show he can secure the spot.
    6) Strangely, I would expect the next couple rounds to be easier. We had a vicious group. We’ll draw a fairly “meh” opponent – El Salvador or Guatamala – in the quarterfinals, and we’ll be playing a much stronger lineup. Whoever we draw in the semis will be on their fifth game in the tournie and considering the limited depth of CONCACAF rosters, as long as it’s not Mexico, they will likely be in atrocious shape.

    It’ll be interesting to see what happens with our rivals the next couple nights. Will Costa Rica even get out of Group? They’re sitting at just two points in two games and if they fail to beat Canada tonight – in Toronto, remember – they go home. Ouch. Mexico will get through but will they be able to put a very lively T&T team down, as hard a time as they’ve had finding the net lately against any team not called Cuba?

    • I think if Zardes was viewed through the same frame as Altidore he’d be ripped for turnovers and inconsistency.

      • One player had a terrible game (rated a 3.5…damn) is removed and his replacement (rated a 7) not only chances things in less than 10 minutes he gets MOTM honors doing it (Before that he was removed and his replacement score in that same friendly, coming off the bench). Viewing Zardes in the same frame as Altidore is what is making no-score look bad in the first place.
        The heat and humidity tested everyone’s fitness and stamina this game against Panama. Even the general didn’t have a good game. So if good players played below average just imagine how a below average player (that doesn’t chase or hustle) might have played.

    • Quozzel, Are you sure about beasley? I thought he was called out of retirement, but then wasn’t even on the 35 man roster…

      I appreciate your observations, and I think Jurgen can’t be happy with Chandler OR Brooks. Both were pretty awful for long stretches, but in different ways. Chandler just was awful passing, going fowrard, giving up huge swathes behind him, being out of position, and generally not linking up with Bedoya/Morales. I think it was Bedoya on that side.

      Brooks… man, he showed flashes of why JK rates him… that slide tackle in the second half was top notch. But he was totally not patient… Man he just was playing kick-ball for long stretches… it was pretty bad.

      Alvarado actually looked really good. Remember, he had to basically play for two people because Chandler was just off in his own little bubble world.

      Beckerman… So in the 68/69th minute, I turned to my wife SOOO frustrated with Beckerman… he had gone back to pick up the ball from the D… was facing forward… had like 20 yards of open space… and then passed the ball backwards to Fabian. I was pulling my hair out because he was pulling that sh*t the entire game… then… right after that, he started playing the ball forward. Normally I wouldn’t notice, except that my wife was like, what are you talking about… look there was a forward pass… and another. Basically, is it possible that Beckerman learned something last night? Because the last 20 minutes he looked good, like he had picked up some confidence or something.

      Strategy wise, I was suprised that the D line wasn’t higher up the pitch to help with pressing. For the first half, the D was waaay deep and there were huge gaps that Panama exploited easily to break the US press. Those guys have to be on the same page more… otherwise the pressing thing won’t work.

      Also, I understand that JK wants to get the US team doing lots of 1-2s up the sidelines to break the press… but sometimes, there needs to be a DCM that drops to relieve the guys doing the 1-2 passing up the sidelines. I think Bedoya and Morales did a terrible job of finding the middle guy, and I think Bradley and Beckerman did a terrible job of providing that outlet. But given how much that improved once Yedlin, came on., it may just be lack of playing time together.

      Also, I re-watched some of Bradley’s giveaways… other than the awful soft-pass… man that was a brain fart… it was mostly because his team were not making themselves available for a pass.

      My take… Man something has to happen at RB. Go to 3 in the back if you have to (we have the wingers (Yedlin/Fabian) or try Yedlin out there and let him make the position his… but something has to give. Chandler cannot be the answer, not like this. Does he have to be playing on German grass to do well?

      MF… the DCM issue is something to worry about. Bradley is our playmaker now, and JJ is getting on in age (though I remember one Gattuso who played for a long time, so maybe there is hope), and even our stand-by, Beckerman, is getting long in the tooth. So I think that is wide open (Cameron, Ream, Mix, Williams, any one of them could play, but they need to step up).

      I am curious, though, as to whether we are intentionally moving away from a DCM formation. IT seems (as Quozzel has said before) that JK is moving the team towards a 4-3-3, and a 4-3-3 doesn’t have a pure DM… other than just to close out games (the dutch are a good example). So I am curious whether that is why. I would love to have a talk with JK about his plan for the future.

      • I agree, and I hate to admit it. I’ve been pretty down on Beasley for a while but what can you do… he’s steadier than Chandler at the moment.

      • I’ve had this discussion with one of you guys not long ago, can’t remember who.. about the 4-3-3.
        If you look at the successful teams that play it, there’s a few common factors:
        Your backline has to be a brick wall, ( like the way Pirlo plays the 6, he doesn’t scare anyone with his defensive prowess)

        Your outside forwards/wingers have got to be just what their title says….

        The Striker doesn’t have to be the guy who is always the furthest forward, and your 3 mids can be interchangeable…like when MB was at Roma.
        Fullbacks can spend their time attacking… or not.

        But the two traits I mentioned are things we just don’t have right now. Nobody in this country, fan, analyst, or coach can even agree who should be our back line. And to play a 4-3-3, where do you fit Deuce and Jozy? Unfortunately, they’re still our only two proven goal scorers.

        We as fans, and even all the expert analysts, are geniuses at pointing out what’s wrong, but if you can’t get two fans, analysts, or commentators to even agree on any common solution, then the answers aren’t that simple.

        I personally thought Quozells thought a while ago that we’d be going to a 5-3-2 was on the money….

      • So I think you are over-stating the dissention in how to fix our problems:

        A, I think the 3/5/2 or 5/3/2 fits our players best… but JK wants to go 4-3-3… so here is how I predict it shakes out:

        1. dempsey is the striker (Altidore his backup other than for tactical reasons, and Woods, Morris, hyndman, rubio pushing for his spot). Eventually someone will take over from Dempsey as he gets older and transitions into super-sub.

        2. the wings are basically set with AJ and Zardes (with the U-20 guys pushing at their heels Zelalem/Julian/etc).

        3. The MF is basically set with MB, Bedoya, and one of (Mix, zusi, Morales, Williams, and the u-20 guys who don’t have enough attacking flair).

        but what to do about the back-line?

        Man other than bringing over an Italian to teach them, I have no ideas what to do. Those guys have potential, but its like coloring by numbers. Its like they have ADD with brain farts at the worst times.Our back-line should scare no one at this point. But whatevs, we have 3 years to address that issue.

      • I think the big difference in the second half was not only that Yedlin came in and played both his and Chandler’s position but also that Bedoya and FJ looked really good playing on the same side together. I think they have styles that compliment one another very well.

    • JK all but said there will be some changes, that he and the coaches have discussed it, and they have 24 hours so we’ll see..
      Which means he’s already decided who is in and who is out.
      My guess is Morales and Garza are likely out.
      Zusi, will depend on how bad this knock that kept him out last night. He did not impress when he did play.
      I also wouldn’t be surprised if there’s not like for like switches.
      I wouldn’t be surprised if he brought Besler but didn’t drop a CB, or moved Ream left and switched FabJo
      I wouldn’t be surprised if he brought Alan Gordon, and moved Zardes to mid off the bench
      I wouldn’t be surprised if he brought DMB, switched FabJo, or moved him to mid
      I wouldn’t be surprised at anything

  7. And we laughed at Mexico?
    By the way, this result guarantees Mexico a spot in he quarter finals as one of the best third places even if they lose their last game.

  8. I’ll say it again – our team has to find a way to maintain possession. In the first half we just gave Panama the ball. Bad passes right to them. The starters were pretty bad all around except for MB of course. Agree Deuce is irreplaceable. AJ has also impressed me.

  9. Who pairs best up top with Dempsey right now?
    I don’t think anyone has shown more than what we know Jozy can bring. That said, he hasn’t looked normal and I don’t know the extent of what the issues are. I like AJ or Zardes as replacement, but I like Zardes more as an outside mid right now, although I think Mix would be a fine outside mid too in our formation, a bit pinched in, with Fabian behind him.

    Where does Mix play?
    Right now I think our best midfield might be MB, Zardes, Bedoya, and Beckerman (maybe FJ if we can find quality from other outside back options. I feel like Mix playing the 6 doesn’t work at worst, and is inefficient at best.

    Chandler, why you not play good lately?

    I still have high hopes for the Brooks-Alvarado pairing, but it doesn’t feel ready. That goal was embarrassing. Cavalier defending in such a dangerous space on the field.

    Guzan has been dope.

    I have to say, I liked how aggressive Wondo and Beckerman were in this game, I could see them getting under the skin of Panama, not to say it noticeably influenced the outcome of the game, but it was fun to watch.

    A couple really nice slide tackles from us in the second half. Elicited the second loudest gasps from the mexican restaurant patrons who were barely watching behind me. The loudest gasping sounds came when Zardes had his headbutt.

    Morris and Beasley would both be on my wish list for additions from the provisional. Besler, Perhaps.

    • Morris just had surgery on a stress fracture in his leg.
      I’m anxious to see who gets subbed out. My guess is the guys on the bubble are Morales and Garza.
      The next group who may be a little concerned would be Mix, and then depending on how bad of a knock he picked up, Zusi

    • Like some of the creative exchanges between Dempsey and AJ they are the only real creative players up top and looked to understand each other. Would like to see more of them together. AJ is more a technician Altidore is more of a bull in a china shop and Wondo is more of a bench warmer

  10. So what have we learned through the Group Stage thus far? A few observations:

    –A handful of US players have shown that they absolutely must play meaningful minutes the rest of the way through… I’d say Dempsey, Bradley, Johnson, Zardes, and Guzan have met this standard. There are other players on the cusp, such as Yedlin, Brooks (now suspended), Bedoya, and Beckerman who are close and who we can all expect to see again. But there are plenty of places up for grabs still. Perhaps not a an ideal situation, but it is what it is.

    — Jozy is not impacting things in the way he has shown himself to be capable of (be it fitness, confidence, or whatever….). However, neither AJ nor Wondo (nor anybody else) has grabbed the opportunity to unseat him with both hands. Still lots of opportunity for a US striker who wants to step up to the plate.

    — Regardless of how the tournament goes, finding a reliable CB tandem must certainly be emerging as a priority for the coming 12 months. I will say right now that Alvarado-Brooks is not working, and progress has been minimal to nonexistent. This needs to go at the top of the whiteboard.

    –The “Caribbean” sides are no joke. Jamaica, T&T, Haiti have already outperformed expectations, and they have been good value for their results. In a gritty, rough-and-tumble competition like this Gold Cup, physicality and speed offer a considerable premium . Nobody should be excited to play these teams at this point

    — What would Jermaine Jones’s role be had he been available for this tournament? Hard to be believe he couldn’t have been valuable.

    — Ditto Jordan Morris (still feels weird to say this about a non-professional player)

    — Ultimately, this tournament is still very much winnable for the US (though they won’t be the only team who feels this way). It’s a Gold Cup in the mold of many previous edtions. It’s ugly. It’s physical. It’s unpredictable. The refereeing sucks. Simply stated, it’s CONCACAF. But that’s how our region works, and we’ve been down this road before. Time to buckle down and do it!

    • Don’t forget Danny Williams or Cameron. Either of the three could give him a lot more options, JJ on the left side, or all three could play the 6, or having 2 of them gives him the option of the 4-2-3-1.. all 3 could help. Plus Junior’s intensity and field leadership is sorely missed.

    • well stated. on Morris, in the small amount we’ve seen, he seems to have that extra spark of pace and willingness to take opprtunities that, right now, we only see in flashes from AJ. That shot he took with the outside of his foot from the 18 that flashed just wide of the post against Germany was unlike anything ive seen from Jozy in a long while. Its strange how Morris isnt dominating the NCAAs.

  11. What is with the absolutely horrendous pitches at the Gold Cup? First, there was that temporary abomination in NE, & tonight someone forgot to tell the players to replace their divots. SKC should be ashamed of that grass tonight.

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  13. A few thoughts:
    – Missing Brooks the next round hurts. I have to think it’s Gonzo and Ream, unless he brings in Besler. Without Brooks, we need height, so Gonzo gets the nod.
    – As horrible as we looked the first half, more players from Panama ran out of steam at the end, and they were playing for their tournament lives.
    – I hate to bring up factors out of our control, but the officiating has been terrible.. not just against us, but just poor. And the idea of playing tournament games on grass laid over concrete, and back to back games on the same field are just dumb. There was pitching wedge divots everywhere.
    – Everyone is concerned about the defense, but I think the bigger issue originates in the midfield. Poor shape, poor passing lanes, and too many giveaways by everyone (not just Chandler) are putting the Def under unnecessary pressure. And Beckerman looks at times like he’s responsible for 40 yards of open space
    – Our depth should help us, watching several games other than the US, the heat is killing people… but JK has to get the right people inserted
    – I’m curious to see what changes happen. I think Morales and possibly Garza may go, and depending on how bad Zusi’s knock is, he may go. And I don’t know if they would be like for like changes- I wouldn’t be surprised if Alan Gordon got called in
    – Guzan looking the part.

  14. All on the back line except for FJ were really bad at times and FJ didn’t do much defending. I sure don’t see why JK has such faith in Chandler. He has been horrible. And both Brooks and Alvarado failed on the Panama goal. I think it’s time to call up Besler and go back to Besler and Gonzalez until Brooks and Alvardo get more experience at a higher level. And anybody but Chandler, please. Panama won most contested balls and were definitely the more intense team. And the passing from the back, especially in the first half, was really atrocious. So many bad passes it must have driven Klinsmann to distraction. As the self-proclaimed Zardes expert, he’s not ready to be a starter up top. Lalas was foolish to suggest that he could become so soon. He maybe will take that role in a year or two when Dempsey stops playing as often, but not before. His first year he had to adjust to MLS from college and then had a breakout second year. Then, beginning in January, he had to adjust to international friendlies and had done so after a couple of games. Now tournament play is another level up and I don’t think he was ready for the intensity he has faced. I think he will be okay when qualifying begins again and we play lesser teams before the Hex. I’m very concerned about Brooks, Alvarado, and Chandler, however,. I don’t think they are ready yet for CONCACAF tournament play. The US was too casual too often. Even Bradley got his pocket picked at least 3 times because a Panamanian player wrestled it away from him after sneaking up from behind. When their intensity picked up in the second half, so did the quality of their play. Funny how that works out–I hope it’s not lost on the players.

    • You might be right on the Besler/Gonzo pairing for the knockouts. GC Groups are a good time to let a few new players cut their teeth against intense competition. It’s not always pretty, or the most skilled, but it’s always intense. After that, you can bring in the steady vets to handle things in the knockouts.

      On intensity: I wonder how hard it is to come in full throttle if you know that you could literally stand stationary for 90 minutes and it wouldn’t affect the ultimate outcome for you. I know that they’re professionals and every one of them is ultra-competitive. I know that the coaches said they were going to play hard and play to win. I know that the best way to get hurt is to play 80% against your opponent’s full effort. But I still wonder if that wasn’t part of the problem tonight.

    • Anyone, including my neighbor’s teenage son Johnny, would be better at right back than Chandler. Unfortunately, Johnny is not German, so Klinsmann won’t consider him.

      Klinsmann’s preferred back four which started yesterday is beyond ridiculous. Only Fabian is deserving of a starter’s role, and Brooks should be consider as a backup. Chandler and Alvarado should not even be in any conversation. At least Alvarado plays hard and tries. Chandler is the laziest player I’ve ever seen. Did anyone notice that moment in the second half when Timmy, as usual, lost the ball, and instead of racing after the Panamanian player just stood there watching Yedlin go by him after the Panama player? Remember the recent German goal in the US game? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a right back being such a disinterested observer while an opponent was scoring from his position. He’s quite inept offensively (and has already had his 15 seconds of glory with the Guatemala goal) and beyond horrific on defense.

      • I agree with everything you just said. Chandler has been atrocious and I also caught him lollygagging after his turnover. It is maddening.

    • Defenders have been our Achilles heel for years. We’re just not very good on the back line. It’s not quite as bleak as it was, but still pretty bad. That’s why it boggles my mind when we find a quality defender, like FJ (maybe the best outside back the U.S. has ever had), some are chomping at the bit to move him to midfield.

      Defense wins championships. Attackers sell tickets, but defenders win games. It’s true at all levels from top club play down to U-littles. Ask the more successful youth coaches and if you get a moment of honesty they will tell you when they want to win (the better youth coaches often place development as a higher priority over results, which involves exposing players to multiple responsibilities – but when they want to win…), they’ll put their most trusted, best players on defense and leave that backline intact for the game.

      • It’s what I always do.

        I always tell my guys: yeah, yeah, you’re a forward. Snazzy. Everybody who is any good on a youth team thinks he’s a forward.

        Show me you can play defense, do the dirty work, and put the team first, and I’ll be just a whole lot more impressed. Show me you can actually do both – play D, shut the other team’s attack down, and then have the will and stamina to get themselves forward and into the attack – and I’ll show you somebody who will play in college.

      • Every player has a role in every phase of play, as you know. When the players don’t understand that, you end up with a team that is pretty easy to beat. Attackers, for instance, can make a huge difference in transition to defense and defense when they press close balls and maybe more importantly when they close down back passing options.

      • So, being from a different place… I respectfully disagree. 7.5 people play defense. They have to play together, and 2.5 of those guys need to be able to move forward to assist the offensive 2 (I am using the .5 just to illustrate that depending on the opposition/tactics it is 7/8 and 2/3,,,). Now, there is a role for the guy with the engine… those 2/3 guys. the Vidals, and Nedved’s of the world. But, and I say this entirely seriously. You need guys who don’t give a f*ck about the D. you need 2/3 of them to win. They have to do some pressing, but the same way that CBs need to get up for some corners… its a small portion of what they do. You need the creative guy + 2 forwards to interlink, and they need to be fresh once the D gets the ball… and that’s just that. Now, not everyone can be that guy… but to move to the next lever you need that guy. It is the glamour position, which is why everyone wants to play it… but it is HAAARD… because you are basically having to be good enough to play 5/6 v 8 and win. Guys that can do that… they get paid the big bucks… and to say things like… “well when I coach, I just use guys that are willing to play D in important games” tells me american coaching has a long way to go… If you can’t stop a team with 7/8… then you don’t have a defense worth talking about.

      • I’d humbly disagree that American coaching has a long way to go. Soccer is possibly our fourth sport now, but arguably below hockey at professional levels and below lacrosse at high school levels. We have a ton of kids who play youth soccer, but as they reach middle and high school, the better athletes tend to gravitate toward other sports. The ones who stay mostly (not all, but mostly) tend to only play at organized team events, like two practices and one game a week. Yet from all of these disadvantages we frequently field national teams that surpass expectations. It’s like the one announcer asked during our last World Cup game with Portugal: “How can this team play world class football with no world class players?”

        Yet at the same time, we see teams like England, with a roster full of world class players, and a history of disappointing results.

        At some point, it has to come back to coaching. What our youth coaches do with limited exposure to their players is fairly solid, and lays that foundation for soccer intelligence that produces a constantly deeper and more talented pool of national players.

      • Ok, my comment on coaching is about the mentality that I associate with Quozzel’s statement. It would be like a football coach saying… “when I want to win, I go back to ironman-football. Everyone playing both ways and sacrificing for the team.” If we have coaches with the menatality Quozzel put forth, then I think we have a long way to go.

        As for us putting together teams that punch above their weight… for a long time it was conditioning and organization and heart. Anyone could teach conditioning and organization (See… mulatinovic, Arena, Bradley, and Quozzel… give me the guy that will sacrifice himself for the team.) and heart you can’t teach, but just ingrained in Americans.

        But we have to move beyond that. We need to ID skill and nourish it… stop taking the most sacrificial two-way eleven you can find, merely to grind out a tough win, and accept losing sometimes to develop some creative chemistry and some true dazzle and beauty.

      • Every coach everywhere looks for skill. Every coach tries to increase the skill level of his/her team. That is as true in the US as it is elsewhere. I suspect that US coaching methods are at least as good as most countries, if only because we have consciously copied best practices over the past 30 years.
        But skill, even defined very broadly, is only part of what it takes to be a good soccer player — workrate, athleticism, decision making and on and on.
        And what coaches realize, and many fans ignore, is that you have to have a realistic assessment of your players and of opposing players and determine your overall approach accordingly. If you are the lesser team, you have to adapt accordingly. If you are far and away the better athletes and more skilled, you can try other things. (See the US women, for example). You don’t just choose an approach because it looks pretty or because you associate it with better soccer.

      • “If you are the lesser team…”

        That has been part of the issue. If you are coaching for development purposes… being the lesser team shouldn’t change player selection. If you are trying to win… then yes. Again, long way to go to get that winning first mentality out, and nurturing, development mentality in (unless you are coaching at a professional level). I mean, here is the thing, you can’t teach a certain level of understanding… some guys have it, some don’t, its like porn, I know it when I see it. If I am coaching a team, regardless of general skill level, I try to encourage that understanding (regardless of whether I am playing the good team or bad team). And that is an offensive skill set. But I see coaches all the time, forcing that kid, who could focus and develop his creative genius to run back and exhaust himself defending and being physical at the expense of his creativity. and I think its wrong.

      • Wow. I am lost here. One minute we are talking about the US national team and the next we are debating how to coach ankle-biters. If the team we are talking about is the US national team, then it seems to me that winning is the object. Presumably the national teams is made up of full-fledged professionals and in any case the national team program does not allow time for “development.” So yes, you pick the approach that gives you the best chance to win. I doubt that the choice of players would vary much all that much.

      • I coach at the developmental level, U11 to U16, usually. What I try to ingrain is mentality.

        Flash and technicality takes care of itself. Especially going forwards you must have creative flair or it doesn’t go anywhere. Inside the attacking third…take chances. Have a go. Combine. Get creative. Way too many coaches try to control that aspect of the game and just pass their way into the net. I definitely do not agree with that mentality either.

        I know there’s a lot of schools of thought, but I personally do not like guys to specialize. Particularly I do not want guys on my teams fighting over who’s going to be the “star” – i.e., the striker. I roll my guys at multiple positions, and they usually will play at a couple different spots during the course of the game.

        The mentality that I try to teach is: you can take over a game from any position on the field.

        I particularly like small-sided, indoor (on turf), and futsal…my teams play as much of this as possible, and when my kids are doing this, they roll almost volleyball-style from right back, to left back, to left wing, to right wing, then keeper (if we were playing 5-a-side)…and then, sub. Rinse and repeat. Everybody attacks. Everybody defends. I could care less about results (though we usually get them.) Just play where you’re put, do your job, have fun. This also builds creativity, touch, control in a small area, quick passing. Kids just don’t get enough touches 11v11 on a big field.

        I also don’t like diva strikers. I’ll admit it. If all a kid is willing to play is striker, and he doesn’t want to do the dirty work, I don’t care how good he is, he can go play for somebody else because he doesn’t fit the mentality I try to build in my teams. Guys who are that selfish are just in it for their own glory and that’s poison to a youth team, anyhow, if your emphasis is development.

        Do I know where a guy’s “best” position likely is? Sure. Do we tend to play that way more when it comes to meaningful or tight games? Yup. When it’s time to bring the pain, you gotta know what your “best” is. But the more you rotate, the more you cross-train, the more you see how that changes over time, too. I’ve had guys who thought they were strikers who fell in love with left back because they loved the acres of open space you get when you surge forward from the LB spot. I’ve had keepers discover they were great natural holdup strikers. It goes on and on.

        Youth teams really need to work on being “positionless” – as much as possible, anyhow – and definitely “starless”.

        Rampage away. But that’s how I do it…and my kids develop.

      • Sounds like a solid approach to me, quozzel. One thing I have noticed is when you get to older teams and start putting players in more regular positions, team mentality is a balancing act. Selfishness is a cancer, but sometimes a team can be too selfless, too. Sometimes you need to encourage players to be a little selfish at times – step it up and try some things. I think that’s where you find the creativity Turkmenbashy is talking about.

      • One thing I used to do was called ‘the insane game.’ Kids loved it, because it was pure fun. The coaches weren’t allowed to coach, and only could yell ‘insane’ in reward of creativity (or humor). Goals weren’t counted – only ‘insanes’ were. And the kids got the rewarding yell for insane moves – passing or dribbling. I wanted to give them an opportunity to just try anything – any crazy idea they had. And it worked, but there was another unexpected benefit – take out all stress and just make the game pure fun, and we started seeing some really impressive ball movement and support off the ball. We used to do that once every couple of weeks.

      • “Everybody who is any good on a youth team thinks he’s a forward.” This far overstates it. Some players are naturally more defensive minded and some are more offensive minded. Good coaches will push players outside of their comfort zones, but it is difficult to turn a defensive minded player into a forward and vice versa.

      • I have found that is actually not true. There’s always a few unselfish kids who just wanna play and are willing to play defense…and they tend to get pegged that way early and have just always played defender. Deep down, though, they wanna be able to get into the attack…and resent the flashy “I’m a superstar and God of the World” types.

        The flashy ones usually need to learn humility and work ethic. The career defenders need to learn how to get up and attack and drive on the ball when it’s there, and just have one when the opportunity presents. Yeah, there are tendencies…but when you allow them to specialize too early you usually end up with an incomplete skillset and a kid who likely can’t translate his game to a higher level.

  15. It was only after the game got rough that the US woke up. Even then, it will be tough to advance in the knockout stage if we are are playing slowly and without aggression in the first 20 minutes.

    • I suspect we’ll be fine in the quarters. Upsets happen, obviously, but it would take a heck of an upset for us not to advance to the semis.

      All of the usual confederation powers are looking shaky at times, which is not unusual in any confederation tournament. The sides that know they should make it out of group tend to underwhelm. Once the next stage begins, those teams tend to wake up. Hopefully that happens with us, again. Remember how bad we looked at times in World Cup qualifying? Some were actually nervous that we might not qualify for the Hex at one point (and it actually took a little heroics from unusual players to get us there). We limped into the Hex, won it, and the next year at Brazil advanced from a group of death.

      Doesn’t mean we will wake up, but it means we can. And even if we don’t, we still might be good enough to scrape out three more wins.

  16. Dempsey, at this point, is irreplaceable. That pass falling over leading to Bradley’s goal didn’t get enough credit. Zardes played better once the weight of the front pressure fell to Dempsey. Duece and Donovan are (were) still in a class of their own when it comes to USMNT offense, and it is evident when not on the field.

    That was the worst I’ve ever seen the USMNT pass the ball ever. How many times did we pass the ball, without any pressure, right to the other team, like a comedy act. Backline plus Beckerman were bad. I was glad to see Yedlin but I think he’ll need a passport next time he spends that much time in mid-air.

    My thoughts:
    Maybe bring in Besler for next round, maybe to replace Alvorado.
    Dempsey has to play any game we want to win.
    Zardes is way better playing off a star then being the star.
    Beckerman can’t play if he’s going to play like that.
    Evans is slower but I feel like his soccer IQ is higher than Chandler and I’d like to see Evans.
    Everytime Yedlin went into a 50/50 he went flying, AJ was whistled for a foul.
    Our passing can’t be slow and inaccurate next game or we won’t win this tournament. Although I do think we are coming out of the toughest group.

    • Nonsense, the US will win this Gold Cup. Who is going to beat us … El Salvador? Mexico will not even make it to the final. Klinsi made some strange picks for this roster but the still the best side.

      • Nonsense, the results say we’re the best side. But the field of play has shown otherwise. If we continue this run of form, than there’s always a chance that we won’t make the finals either.

      • Results tell you who won.lost or tied.

        If the US should win the Gold Cup that would be the best they can do in terms of results.

        Whether they or some other team is the “best side” is subjective.

        Other than actual results there are no predetermined criteria for “best side”.

        I’m sure someone, somewhere will make an argument for Cuba or Canada being the “best” side.

    • I disagree that Evans > Chandler. I’d argue Haiti’s offense was weaker than Panama’s and Evans did not look good at all. He didn’t make any glaring errors like Chandler is prone to make now and again but that said he didn’t do much of anything positive either. If a forward received the ball down his side he would shadow them a yard away until they either A they ran around him; B someone else came over to double team and take it; or C the ball handler was allowed to make an unpressured pass to a support player. There was 0 chance of a tackle by Evans ever. Its all well and good to be in the right position but you have to use that position to do more than just slow the play down at least once. Throw in the fact that he is older and has reached his ceiling and I fell like its Chandler hands down despite his flaws.

      • Interesting exchange and I can find myself mostly agreeing with each of the three above posts – and yet they seem to be in violent opposition to one another, lol.

      • Chandler has been atrocious! His occasional flurry forward does not make up for his bonehead turnovers and general lack of awareness about what’s going on around him. Dude is a serious liability. I’d rather take a positionally sound Brad Evans over this clown.

      • Chandler can be taught positioning. Evan’s can’t be taught the athleticism required to allow him to do more than shadow speedy players.

      • I am not disputing Chandler is more athletic than Evans… though, I have to say – am I the only one who thinks Chandler has the oddest walking/moving motion I have ever seen? He is totally not proportionate – anyway… positioning is not chandler’s problem… being part of a team and playing well is the problem. Sometimes he goes forward when he shouldn’t… when we need to possess, he plays kickball… when we are looking to counter he hangs back. When we are playing up the lines he doesn’t overlap, then when we aren’t, he flies up field looking for the ball and exposing the back. Its wierd, its like he is trying to do too much or something… or he makes a mistake and then forgets how to play soccer. I don’t know what is up, but until he figures it out, Evans is addition by subtraction.

      • That isn’t chandler playing better. That is Yedlin compensating for Chandler being in his own bubble with amazing athleticism.

      • And because of that any time a team goes down Evans’s side it is a free hold up play to move the team up. That is a pretty serious disadvantage even if he doesn’t allow a free runner.

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