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USMNT settles for draw with Panama in Gold Cup opener

Photo by Andrew Nelles/USA Today Sports

Dom Dwyer scored his second goal in as many games, but it wasn’t enough for the U.S. Men’s National Team to move past Panama in its Gold Cup opener.

The Sporting KC forward’s goal kickstarted the second half but an equalizing finish from New York City FC’s Miguel Camargo saw Panama earn a 1-1 draw with the USMNT in Saturday’s Gold Cup opener.

Dwyer’s goal came just moments into a second half that followed a snoozefest of an opening 45. Kelyn Rowe, one of the stronger players throughout the opening 45, beat his man down the left before rolling a cross into the center of the box. Dwyer created a yard of space, tapping the shot into the corner while leaving goalkeeper Jose Calderon helpless as the USMNT seized the lead.

Panama took control shortly after, creating several chances. The goal finally came in the 63rd minute following several heroic Brad Guzan saves. Unfortunately for him, one of the rebounds came to Camargo, and the NYCFC midfielder tapped a shot past Guzan for the equalizing goal.

The first half was a largely forgettable 45 minutes as the two teams struggled to create in the Nashville heat. Rowe’s long-range effort was one of few opportunities throughout the first half. The USMNT did dominate possession, though, but did little to truly test Calderon.

Second-half action began quickly with Dwyer’s goal but, following his finish, the match turned towards Panama. Guzan finished with five saves, making several in the moments between Dwyer’s finish and Camargo’s equalizer.

Eventually, the introductions of Gyasi Zardes, Juan Agudelo and Jordan Morris provided a bit of life for the USMNT. Even so, the game slowed down massively in the closing moments due to the heat as both teams earned a point from Saturday’s opener.

The result is a familiar one for the two teams, as the USMNT and Panama have now played to four consecutive 1-1 draws.

Looking ahead, the USMNT now moves on to a pair of group stage matches that should, theoretically, be more manageable. The USMNT returns to action on Wednesday against Martinique before facing Nicaragua on Saturday to wrap up the group stage.


  1. Hopefully this is just a case of the B/C side lacking just a handful of players. If we call in these guys for the Knockout round: Dempsey, Bradley, Altidore, and Nagbe, I think we are fine.

  2. Disappointing but not surprising in any way. I said before the tourney that there was no one to create offensively and no spark plug to play through. That was very obvious yesterday. Here are my notes:

    – Corona has not shown me anything at this level, I keep hearing how great he is in practice and how impressed everyone is with his play, but I have not seen any of that. To play Bedoya, Corona, and Rowe almost guarantees little quality service into Dwyer.
    – Acosta was off all day, and it looked like he was getting beat up and it effected him. He was due for a poor game, I hope he bounces back.
    – Zusi and McCarty need to play faster. How many giveaways can you have right at midfield before you get punished? I think Zusi is improving, but will never be the answer against anything other than CONCACAF opponents. Dax can play better, but he needs to show it now or he will not be long for this team.
    – Villafana seems to be fading. He looked poor against Ghana and not great yesterday. I think we end up going back to FJ before the end of the year. We have midfielders, but need FJ in the back, no matter how that makes him feel.
    – Omar drives me nuts! He has great moments, but seems to make a few poor decisions that lead to real chances every game and also looks like he switches off at inopportune times. I would rather see Hedges, who I though had great positioning against Ghana.

    I think these guys have heard for a week now that this is the final tryout for WC2018, and they came out tight. Add the heat and the knowledge that a tie against Panama is not the worst in this format, and this was about what I expected to see. I think the team will grow with the tourney, and hope to see better quality moving forward.

    side note: I think Dwyer might be a perfect compliment to CP up top. He has the energy and makes the runs that CP will find or that will open up space for the kid to operate. Not saying he has jumped to our top striker, but I do want to see them play together.

  3. From a tactical standpoint, Panama committed more players higher up the pitch (than Ghana did) – They worked hard to close midfield space – they took McCarty out of the game by not allowing him to turn/to dictate play. Acosta, because he was also pressured, didn’t know how to react – should he go forward? Drop to help the back line? He looked dazed in buildup and in transition. That’s why Arena wanted the team to play quicker – hit earlier balls into wide areas/channels. But there was little to no movement out there, so we were stuck in our third, with poor buildup play. Zusi made a few runs to flag from his RB position, and that was productive, but where were the runs from the mids? Dwyer was pretty good at holding the ball, but showing for the ball not so much. It was hot, but you can’t go there. It just comes down to maturity, and the ability to solve problems game by game – not to mention ability to execute when pressured.

    • Zusi is allegedly on the team because of his ability to cross, but it was completely absent. Would I be wrong in thinking he didn’t’t connect on a single one and there were probably 10-12 overall. We have not had a quality RB since Cherundolo that could cross consistently. For all the negatives about Chandler, and count me in that camp (with respect to his performance strictly on the MNT) he is a far better crosser than Zusi. I am so done with Jeff Agoos 2-0.

  4. Not sure there are enough fingers to point the blame on this one but let’s try. Why switch the line up that worked a week ago, had plenty of rest. Villifana I think has gotten exposed, his last 3 games he has struggled not saying he can’t turn it around but it is worrying. Acosta I like but he was soft as a pillow tonight. Dax was and is who he is and that’s just not an international level player. Did anyone see corona or did he go back to Tijuana early. Bedoya is slow but tries hard so why not keep calling him in right. Dwyer was OK with what he was given. Rowe I think looked OK but with everyone looking so bad it wasn’t hard to stand out. Hopefully a totally new back 4 next game. Thought the subs were a little strange, bedoya wouldn’t even have come off unless he didn’t get hurt and should have been the first one off. Morris left foot showed up again which was nice. All in all a bad showing and coaching but it’s just one game right.

  5. getting nasty is a loosers game , a thowback to when the USA really stunk. Now, they must play better, not nastier. That crap is so bogus and old, it is painful when people bring it up. Even the Brits are giving that crap up because it stopped working for them 30 years ago.

  6. Another US men’s match which appeared not to be a contest of “Who plays better?”, but rather, “Which national side will suck less?”

    • +1 but these suck-fests always seem to happen against Panama and Jamaica, yes? we just seem to bring out the ugly soccer in each other. but if we play another opponent like Columbia or mexico then we will play a better game. i guess you guys here can explain why better than i can.

  7. re. calls for Klinsmann’s head after a game like this, lol

    you forget when Klinsmann was finally righteously fired, he had promised the world, demanded all control and ridiculous compensation so he could work his magic, then left the US in desperation mode and total disarray as an abject failure on his quest to create a great team for World Cup 2018, his stated goal. Fail and a con man to boot who too many neophyte american soccer fans fell for, and for a long time. Others did not, and were proven correct, calls for his head finally realized. some are still defending him here…….

    I’m with the knowing and experienced Bayern fans re. JK

    go ahead, let me have it

    • Ha I love you brother… So I’ll take up your challenge in good faith.

      All I can say is read back to yourself what you just wrote. And think about it. The polarization. The sense of right vs wrong…. good vs. evil…. Righteous indignation at “promises” that were silly to begin with, and became all the more infuriating when they were immediately and overtly abandoned in favor of pragmatism and/or historical norms

      Sound familiar? I should hope so. This is the context of pretty much every argument we have in this country at the moment. Identify hypocrisy. Prove hypocrisy. Nail the hypocrite to the wall.

      So in that sense, it’s easy.

      Jurgen Klinsmann was and is Jurgen Klinsmann. A cartoonish figure. And a hypocrite all day long. , I hated it when he was hired (felt Bob Bradley got jobbed), and I was happy when he was fired (the 4-0 Costa Rica beatdown was about the most shameful US performance I’ve ever seen).

      But it wasn’t a complete failure. Not at all. And years from now, I don’t think it will be viewed that way either. Was his competitive record that bad? Not really. Some high profile fails (4th place at 2015 Gold Cup, failure to qualify for Olympics or Confederations Cup, disastrous start to 2018 qualifying) as well as some over achievements (Dominant win in 2013 Gold Cup, easy 1st place finish in 2014 WCQ, advanced from Group of Death at 2014 World Cup, semifinalist at 2016 Copa America, remarkable first time wins on the road vs Germany, Mexico, Netherlands). He also did plenty to expand the footprint of our recruiting (Brooks might not be an USMNT guy without him….. and Morris would never have gotten a look as a college student). I could continue but it’s all been said before.

      But back to hypocrisy….

      Did anybody really think we were going to look like Barcelona or Brazil ’72 simply because we changed our coach? Is it such a crime to set high targets? Even if they are not achievable with the resources you have currently? Would any of us like JK more if he had said “We’re just going to be decent and qualify for the World Cup”?

      JK is a part of the team’s history. I’d argue he’s probably a positive step. Glad he’s gone, but glad he was there.

      Maybe I’m overthinking this

      • In fairness, he didn’t’ coach the Olympic teams, although he did personally pick Herzog as the coach for the 2016 cycle. Can you blame JK for a crap performance from both Hamid and then later Sean Johnson in 2012 against El Salvador? They were literally seconds away from a win, they had a corner and they made the fatal error of a short corner and losing the ball and allowing the break. If you are going to go short don’t lose the ball and at least have 7-8 guys behind the ball at the time. Even a missed shot would have been better and allowed everyone to get back on defense. Sure Klinsmann had plenty of failures and deserved the sacking, but don’t pin 2012 Olympics on him.

      • For all his flaws, Jk’s biggest was trying to force a style of play onto players that were not comfortable playing that way. He did not want to get us to a World Cup or win blah blah blah, he wanted to change how we play. That is not something you can force, and not something that happens quickly. He wanted individual greatness on a team that has always been about all for one and the team before the player. It was never going to work. The positive that came out of that era was we know who we are, and we can be a very good team playing that way. Just my pov.

    • Fucking hell – move on about Jurgen, fellas. Whining and lamenting like a bunch of damn skirts. This shit isn’t an Oprah episode about jilted lovers – move the fuck on.

  8. on not fouling in the middle third from behind like other teams do, US doesn’t really play like that although a few come to mind; Mastroeni would do it, and get carded for it, Harkes would do it, Rico used to do it and get carded, JJ does it and gets carded. I would like to see it more although we’d get carded for it more often imo, and maybe that’s why we don’t as much? Refs in our region just do not protect our players…15 fouls from Panama, including the PK not called and a bunch from behind, no cards, so whack away and Panama did. No excuses, that’s just the way it is in our region.

    Acosta, McCarty, Rowe, Corona all got whacked, Acosta repeatedly, and it seemed to affect his game as he stopped showing for the ball and looked dead on his feet much of the second half. All of these teams in our region do it to the US. Lletget is out because of an intentional foul.

    have to win anyway

  9. Jeez… Not sure what y’all expected. Oh, god, they looked evenly matched. OF COURSE! its our second string at basically every position! There is a real reason that we didn’t do well in youth tourneys over the past 5 years.

    Gary page… Guzan was very average. He is a passable keeper… but I am always worried about him. I want to see someone else.

    Joe Dirt… Amen on calling everyone out about why this player or that one doesn’t get a call up.

    Bizzy, hahah, people probably would have called for JK’s head after a game like that. It was boring, the soccer was not great. but seriously, I have no idea what you guys were expecting out of this game (OR THIS TOURNAMENT GENERALLY). Get ready for waaay more of this for 3 weeks.

    • It wasn’t just that the US played poorly. They also didn’t play as hard. Not just sloppy, but lazy and not a lot of effort. That is unacceptable for even a B/C team. More than once I would see a player get beat and then watch instead of trying to get back into the play. Also, remember when there was a lot of controversy after Klinsmann said the US needed to get nasty? He was spot on, especially in this game. The US sorely needs a Jermane Jones type enforcer at defensive mid to break up attacks. No one seemed willing to take a card to stop a dangerous attack.

      • I would say the one guy on the roster that would mix it up and get ‘nasty’ in these types of game, but also still be able to play with skill, would be Roldan. Hopefully he gets an extended run out at some point.

    • I actually think that they looked tight, not just to start the game but throughout. I wonder if the fact that Bruce said this was the chance for these guys to make the WC2018 roster had anything to do with it? Zusi, Dax, Acosta, Bedoya, Corona all held the ball longer than they should have and looked unsure at times. Was this the pressure, the lack of playing time together, the heat, or just the lack of quality will be the things we need to answer going forward in the Gold Cup.

  10. Sure this is a B/C tesm but easily one of the ugliest game versus an inferior opponent in a long time. Heavy touches, poor passing, poor spacing, disorganization. This board would have wanted Klinsman burned at the stake.

    Been hearing for months people hear calling for these MLSers to be given their chance and look at them now. There is a reason these players haven’t gotten their chance in Europe. Wish Bruce brought in some of the younger players in Europe with higher ceilings. Watching this game was misery felt like I was back in 2000s. Please don’t change your mind when we win big over Martinique and Nicaragua those aren’t worth playing basically semi pros and rec league guys.

    F-ing Panama at home.

    Slow passing. Brick feet for first touch. No creativity. Backline disorganized. Zusi? Wasted spot and minutes. Dax too can’t handle being pressed. Acosta had brick feet. Vilafana can we upgrade at lb? Bedoya wasted minutes. Rowe was promising. Dwyer can score. Guzman made saves. Corona was he even on the pitch? Agudelo energy but no tact. Zardes, Morris both incomplete.

    Was hoping for more from Dax and Acosta. Also OG and Bez should know how the other plays by now they started together several times in past 5 hrs.

    Glad most of these guys aren’t stepping foot on the plane to Russia. Hoping Bruce gets more creative in the future.

    • Some horrible decisions on the counter, first by Bedoya and then Corona. Too many long balls. It was a completely regressive match after how well they played against Ghana. Yes difference between a friendly and a real competitive tournament match, but it was lackluster. Maybe the heat and humidity had something to do with it, but wouldn’t short passing have made it easier? I know in my Over 50 team, it’s a lot less tiring to pass the ball back and forth than it is to chase futile long balls and then have to play defense. It worked against Ghana which even their B team has some quality. The ref allowed Panama to CONCACAF us with all the fouls NOT called.

  11. Very disappointed in the effort and urgency level in this one. Acosta and McCarty were bad to the point of madness. Just another game where the team looked confused and lethargic, and with so much to prove. Dom and Rowe, played with guts and bravado, everyone else (maybe Agudelo) were unconvincing. Two players who won today: Roldan and Lichaj. They definitely get extended looks now.

  12. US was lucky. We got outplayed, outfought, out coached and were saved by one outstanding play by the 2 players who had a decent game. Guzan was outstanding and Omar did well, but not much more can be said positively. And I’m still waiting for a decent corner kick from Acosta. Somebody else needs to take that job.

  13. this is what i’m talking about. usa probably should be ranked 35 in the world. we consistently struggle against teams like (no offense) Panama. it’s not just the score, look at the possession, shots, chances. by all measures, it was an even match. i guess there is ANOTHER explanation. maybe Panama is also in the world top ten!

  14. THE GODS ARE WITH US WHEN ARENA IS AT THE HELM (How did we not lose that game??? With Klinsmann this game would have ended 3-1 panama somehow hahaha)
    Midfielders / defenders getting beat one V one
    Panama getting chance after chance (and Bruce made the substitutions too late)
    10 minutes before the Panama goal was atrocious
    Backline looked disorganized defending counters
    Midfield looks flat
    Corona looked out of place
    Zusi looked “a second too slow” to ever critical ball
    Rowe was surprisingly positive in many ways
    Agudelo coming in changed the game
    4-4-2 and we looked good against a fast Ghana team
    4-2-3-1 and we looked lost against Panama (Hint)

    all said and done we got a point….and time to regroup

    • Don’t always agree with Bizzy, but yeah pretty much on point as far as I’m concerned. Only a few guys can walk away from this one feeling good about their performance…. Guzan was the only faultless performer. Dwyer, Rowe, and Agudelo all had mostly good performances. And frankly I thought the CB’s were mostly ok, with the exception of that gnarly 10 min stretch.

      As for the complaints:

      Villafana– Getting tired of making excuses for this guy. He does lots of things well, and his cutback pass to Rowe in the first half was one of the few times anybody actually did anything intelligent with the ball in a dangerous area. But why is it that every time the opposition creates an opportunity, Villafana is either directly or indirectly at fault? I’m not writing him off, but he has an awful lot to improve upon before I’d feel comfortable seeing him play against first-tier opposition.

      Bedoya– No show performance from the captain (though he definitely did draw an uncalled penalty). Terrible decisions in the final third. Seemed a step off. At this rate, I don’t think we need to see much more. Thanks for memories. Whatever they were.

      Zardes– Did not belong on the field at all. I like the guy (and obviously Arena does) but he is clearly still rehabbing. Seems to be getting his speed back but obviously lacking in confidence on the ball. He should be with the Galaxy and not finding his legs in a competitive international tournament.

      Zusi– Tell me what this guy offers that Old Man Beasley doesn’t?

      Acosta– Was due for a mediocre performance. Hope he lets it go.

      Dax– Meh.

      • I will second you. Meh.

        Any more analysis would be putting in vastly more effort than the guys seemingly did today. Obviously the heat was an issue and Panama, being only around 600 miles from the Equator, is as used to heat as Kenyans are to altitude, but that was still crap-tastic.

        Hopefully we will see more inspiration as the tournament progresses, or not many of these jokers are going to be on the plane to Russia. Actually a lot of them aren’t likely to be around once the Group Stage concludes if they play again the way they did today.

      • Yeah as usual I pretty much concur with your take quozzel. What’s also annoying is now we are basically in a “run up the score” race with Panama to win the group, which should probably happen …. but you never know who’s going to put up a fight against whom with the minnow teams in CONCACAF. Heck, I was surprised that Martinique deservedly beat Nicaragua. Shows what I know….

      • A collective meh. Rowe was probably MotM for me, failure to tackle not withstanding. Would I be wrong in asking where Villafana was on that play? Yes Rowe did get beat and he attempted a reckless tackle but shouldn’t the fullback been able to help or at least shut down the passing lane for the easy put back (which Guzan saved and then the shot went through Zusi’s legs.

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