U.S. Draw Panama in Last Match of Group A

USMNT Brad Guzan

by Deny Gallagher
USMNT Writer

With their ticket punched to the knockout round, an experimental United States lineup drew 1-1 with Panama in the final match of group play at the 2015 Gold Cup.

After falling behind in the first half, Michael Bradley was able to tie things up in the second half to net his 14th international goal.

The first real opportunity of the match came just before the 10th minute, when Luis Tejada got on the end of a Panama free kick and found the back of the net. However, a late offside call denied Panama the goal they so desperately craved.

Action began to pick up after the quarter hour mark with a flurry of opportunities for both sides.

With Panama’s pressure increasing by the minute, Brad Guzan was forced into action. In an effort that will live long on his highlight reel, the Aston Villa keeper made save after save on a Panama corner in the 23rd minute. Guzan was forced to deflect a Fabian Johnson clearance toward the American goal. The threat would not be done as Panama tested the keeper with two more chances, but Guzan continued to be a brick wall.

In the opening 30 minutes of play, it was Panama that looked the side that had earned six points in two games rather than the United States. To this point, the United States had bent but did not break. That would change in the 34th minute when Blas Perez played a good pass to Luis Tejada that led him to the end line. Tejada combined with Perez inside the six-yard box, and the FC Dallas man finished the tap in to put Panama in position to advance.

The United States went into the half trailing 1-0 despite Alejandro Bedoya being taken down just outside the box in the 41st minute. The controversial no-call was just the beginning of a series of questionable decisions by the referee just before the half.

The intensity of the first half only increased to start the final 45 minutes of the match, as the United States came out with a renewed sense of energy.

Jurgen Klinsmann’s side was improved in the second half, but not by much. Substitutes DeAndre Yedlin and Clint Dempsey allowed for the United States to look a lot more threatening down the flanks.

In the 55th minute, the Stars and Stripes used a combination of quality and luck to draw even. A mix up at the top of the box bounced in the American’s favor and to the feet of Alejandro Bedoya. The midfielder’s curling ball would connect with fellow New Jersey native Michael Bradley. The captain’s sliding effort had just enough on it to beat the keeper and level things at 1-1.

With just 15 minutes to go, it looked as if Haiti was set to secure the number two spot in Group A. That was second half sub Roberto Nurse put a venomous header on target to call Guzan into action. The deflection forced a corner, but Panama could not make the most of the opportunity.

Despite the flurry of chances, neither of the sides could convert their opportunities and this one would end with a score of 1-1. The United States moves to 5-0-1 in Gold Cups against Panama with the draw.

With this result finalized, Haiti has clinched their spot in the knockout round. Panama now has to wait and see if they will qualify for that third spot in the next round.

Michael Bradley and company will be back in action on Saturday when they play their quarterfinal match in Baltimore. The opponent has yet to be determined.

All matches from the 2015 Gold Cup can be seen on Fox Sports 1 and UniMas.