USMNT Run Out of Steam Against Panama
Jesus Ferreira came up huge with a clutch, classy goal to keep the US in it during extra time, but penalty kicks are a coin toss. And the US came up short.
The question looming for the USMNT as they prepared to face off against Panama was whether they would put the somewhat ugly soccer the team exhibited against Canada.
Sure, some of that ugliness was a tactical choice from both teams as they tried to eliminate mistakes and stay tactically solid. Canada no doubt wanted a more physical kind of game to slow the US down. It almost worked, but the US came up big in PKs to continue their Gold Cup journey.
Against Panama, the tired legs caught up to the US. The short bench also didn’t help.
While there were chances for the US early, Panama was prepared to counter, and counter they did as the US coughed up balls and struggled to control the game. The US midfield, in particular, underperformed, and Brandon Vasquez, despite playing a crucial role against Canada, also struggled. With a few better passes from the striker, this game likely would not have needed to go to extra time.
Jesus Ferreira, FC Dallas’ star striker and one of US’ best strikers, came up with the kind of classy goal that kept the US alive after going down late.
Unfortunately, Jesus missed the opening PK. Matt Turner managed to save one, but Cristian Roldan missed his opportunity from the spot. Panama took the opportunity and advanced.
Every pro player I have spoken with says one thing about penalty kick shootouts - they are 50/50.
A disappointing end to a strange Gold Cup overall for the US:
The US has a national team head coach but has been run by caretaker BJ Callaghan, a guy who doesn’t have head coaching experience.
A roster selection that is B/C quality with a few A teamers, including Jesus Ferreira, Matt Turner, and (maybe) Miles Robinson.
A US federation as a whole who seemed comfortable assigning the Gold Cup a less important status this year.
A chance to see some young players make their case (or fail to make their case) for more minutes in the future.
From FC Dallas’ perspective, the FCD agenda was on display throughout this tournament. Bryan Reynolds looked like a player poised to gain more confidence and blossom in Europe with opportunities. Alex Zendejas was active though he may end up being a Gold Cup tier kind of player for the US program. Jesus Ferreira may win the Gold Cup Golden Boot with seven goals, continuing to elevate his reputation as a prolific striker.
It’s hard to take any big lessons from this. The US, as a whole, hardly played their best two games. The national pool is deeper than it ever has been. Missing the Gold Cup final is disappointing, but it is not the end of the world. Bigger tournaments remain and loom ahead as the march to the next World Cup begins.
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