Panama dominates U.S., still needs PKs to claim Gold Cup third place.
By Robert Wagman
CHESTER, Pa. (Saturday, July 25, 2015) -- The United States men stumbled once again in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, losing in penalty kicks to Panama 3-2 after playing 120 minutes level at 1-1 this afternoon in the third-place match in front of 12,590 at PPL Park.
Panama was forced to play without five starters -- midfielders Valentin Pimentel and Gabriel Gomez, and forward Blas Perez were out injured, while striker Luis Tejada and goalkeeper Jaime Penedo were both suspended for their actions in Panama’s controversial loss to Mexico in Wednesday’s semifinal. Yet, it was Panama that played with an intensity that the U.S. simply could not match.
The one-sidedness of the game was evident in the shot stats with Panama holding 24-8 advantage, 13-2 on frame. Twice, U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan was beaten cleanly, only to be saved by defenders on the goal-line – first by Tim Ream and later by Fabian Johnson. Guzan did make 12 saves.
U.S. coach Jürgen Klinsmann made six changes to his starting lineup from Wednesday’s 2-1 semifinal loss to Jamaica in Baltimore, Defenders Timmy Chandler, Omar Gonzalez and Ream, midfielders Graham Zusi and Joe Corona and forward Chris Wondolowski all started against Panama. Despite fresh legs and players intent on making a solid impression, the Americans were flat, except for the first few minutes and then a period after striker Clint Dempsey and midfielder DeAndre Yedlin entered in the 60th minute.
Forward Roberto Nurse got put Panama ahead 1-0 in the 55th minute when he made a run across the penalty area, stopped quickly, forcing Ream and fellow defender John Brooks to over-run the play. He then calmly beat Guzan, who tried unsuccessfully to close on him.
The U.S. tied the match at 1-1 with Dempsey’s 70th-minute goal with an assist by Yedlin.
In penalty kicks, the Americans converted their first two, but came up empty on the next three, twice on saves by Panama keeper Luis Mejia. Guzan stopped one shot in the tiebreaker.
U.S. Player Ratings
Goalkeeper Brad Guzan - 6.5: he had a game of sharp contrasts. He did little on the Nurse goal and twice shots got past him, only to be saved off the goal-line. Then he made a number of terrific saves, getting the match to extra time, first by denying Ronaldo Blackburn, and later with a pair of near-post saves on Nurse and Abdiel Arroyo.
Defender Timmy Chandler - 5: He was strong on defense, but added little to the attack on a day when the back-line was given a lot of space to go to goal.
Defender John Brooks - 4: Another poor showing. He seemed to do little right. He was at fault on the Nurse goal, but showed courage by playing final half hour lowed by leg injury after all three substitutions had been made.
Defender Tim Ream - 5: He started at left back, but moved into the center after DaMarcus Beasley entered. He was victimized on the Nurse goal, but made up for it with a marvelous goal-line clearance.
Defender Omar Gonzalez - 5: He also made a substantial error on Nurse’s goal, but otherwise had a decent day.
Midfielder Michael Bradley – 6.5: He worked himself to near exhaustion, but to little effect. He made several great attacking passes that resulted in little and missed his penalty kick in the tiebreaker.
Midfielder Graham Zusi - 4.5: He had little impact for the hour he was in.
Midfielder Joe Corona - 5.5: He added almost nothing to the offense, but he did make several key defensive stops in extra time.
Midfielder Fabian Johnson - 5: Finally got into the midfield, but then had surprisingly little impact on the offense. A yellow card probably made him play cautiously. He made a huge defensive play clearing a ball off the line, but badly skied his penalty kick in the shootout/.
Forward Chris Wondolowski - 3: He missed the two shots he took, but otherwise had no impact on the match.
Forward Aron Jóhannsson - 6.5: He did work hard for the full 120 minutes. but had little to show for the effort.
Forward Clint Dempsey (60th minute for Wondolowsk) - 6.5: He scored his seventh goal of the tournament, but then did little in the extra time when he was marked closely.
Midfielder DeAndre Yedlin (60th minute for Zusi) - 6: He brought in energy and assisted on Dempsey’s goal, but had little effect in extra time.
Defender DaMarcus Beasley (91st minute for Gonzalez) - 5: In what might have well been his final national-team appearance, he accomplished little in overtime and had his penalty kick saved to end the match.
SoccerTimes U.S. Player of the Match: Michael Bradley..
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
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