The U.S. Men’s National Team opened their 2017 Gold Cup with a familiar scene, a 1-1 draw with Panama.
Still seeking to punch his ticket to Russia next summer, United States Head Coach Bruce Arena is using the group stage of the Gold Cup to give some of his European club players rest ahead of their club season and final few World Cup Qualifiers. Without the likes of usual starters Fabian Johnson, Christian Pulisic and Jozy Altidore, players like Kelyn Rowe and Dom Dwyer were given a chance to prove their worth. The duo connected for the lone United States goal of the match.
Another player given an opportunity to earn a seat on the plane to Russia was Graham Zusi, who seeks to prove his value at right back after falling in priority in a talented midfield. While there were plenty of defensive mistakes made by the Americans, Zusi giving his man an acre of space inside the penalty area and inability to win the resulting rebound contributed directly to Panama drawing even. With outside back depth being such a problem for the USMNT Zusi will likely get another chance, but it’s hard not to wonder what the result would have been had DeAndre Yedlin been on the field.
Brad Guzan showed that he still has something to give his nation. The Atlanta United keeper recorded 6 saves and single-handedly bailed out a back line that looked anything but one of the favorites to bring home the hardware at the end of the month.
The next challenge for the Stars and Stripes comes Wednesday in Tampa when Arena’s squad faces off against current Group B leaders Martinique. The small French island’s side started their Gold Cup run with a 2-0 victory over Nicaragua.
USA: Dom Dwyer – 50′ (assist Kelyn Rowe)
Panama: Miguel Camargo – 60′
United States Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Guzan; Zusi, Gonzalez, Besler, Villafaña; Acosta, McCarty; Bedoya, Corona, Rowe; Dwyer
Substitutes: Hamid, Johnson; Miazga, Lichaj, Morrow, Hedges; Pontius, Zardes, Roldan, Arriola; Morris, Agudelo
Panama Starting XI (4-4-2): Calderón; Murillo, Vargas, Chen, Ovalle; Barcenas, Gomez, Godoy, Camargo; Diaz, Torres
Substitutes: Rodriguez, Mosquera; Patrick, Escobar, Miller, Davis; Cooper, Pimentel, Nunez, Heraldez; Clarke, Arroyo