USMNT fit for win against Panama
Coming off a loss against Chile earlier this month, the United States Men's National Team returned to home soil and looked in form in a 2-0 win against CONCACAF rivals Panama.
After head coach Jürgen Klinsmann called out his players for a lack of fitness as the reason for their poor play, the U.S. came out in playing with more confidence than when they played against Chile. Two exceptional performances came from Miguel Ibarra and Gyasi Zardes on the left and right wings respectively. Together they gave Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey room to operate in the middle.
The first goal came in the 27th minute with a spectacular Michael Bradley Olímpico from the left corner.
Ten minutes later, Gyzsi Zardes led a breakaway through the middle of the field and sent a pinpoint through ball to a sprinting Clint Dempsey. After a quick touch and a pretty step over to get past Jaime Penedo, Dempsey had nothing in front of him but an empty net.
That would be enough to secure a win for the Americans. With a lead, Klinsmann was able to get a look at some of his young talent including Perry Kitchen and Matt Hedges who each earned their first international caps.
More importantly, Panama gave a good test to the U.S. defense. Klinsmann had tried a three-man backline against Chile but after conceding three goals, he went back to four defenders. Jermaine Jones, Matt Besler, Brek Shea and DeAndre Yedlin started the game. Within the first five minutes, Yedlin had two bad giveaways. The first where he tried to play back to U.S. goalkeeper Nick Rimando and the ball went wide giving Panama a corner kick. The second was minutes later where he was overpowered by a Panamanian forward. But the defense recovered and were able to get the attack going from the back. Brek Shea continued his strong attacking form by sending in a few crosses that nearly connected with Dempsey and Altidore.
The win calms the nerves for the team and its supporters. The USMNT only had one win in nine games prior to Sunday's victory. The next set of action for the Stars and Stripes comes in late March when the team head to Europe to take on Denmark on March 25 and Switzerland on March 31. Both matches should be a good test against European talent for Klinsmann to establish his young talent.