Heading into the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup, the United States are hoping to add a sixth Gold Cup to their trophy cabinet. Another priority for Bruce Arena was giving players an opportunity to prove their worth and possibly earn a spot in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Panama on the other hand will be doing their very best to win their first Gold Cup. Coming ever so close in 2013, losing to USA, they headed into the match looking for revenge.
Scoreless First Half
After 45 minutes neither team created a golden opportunity. Miguel Camargo looked dangerous on the left side of the Panama attack. He forced a tough fingertip save from United States keeper Brad Guzan in the 28th minute. Kelyn Rowe had the two best chances for the United States having chances in both the 5th and 26th minute. Calderon had trouble controlling the ball on both shots but never looked like conceding.
The Americans struggled to play the ball into their striker, Dom Dwyer's feet. The highly anticipated competitive debut of Dom Dwyer was a bit of a disappointment in the first half.
All that quickly changed.
One thing you can not do is give Dom Dwyer a chance in the box. It seems as if the Panamanian defenders were not informed of that prior to the match. Dom Dwyer found space in the box and confidently buried the ball in the bottom right corner. Kelyn Rowe continued to impress with some brilliant wing play. Rowe beat his defender in the corner with some nifty footwork before delivering a low cross into the box finding the foot of Dom Dwyer who made no mistake.
Panama Bounce Back
Almost directly after the USA goal, Panama started creating chance after chance in short succession. Brad Guzan came up big but could only do so much. In the 55th minute, Gabriel Torres beat Graham Zusi to a header which forced the first of many big saves from the U.S. keeper. The rebound bounced perfectly for Ismael Diaz who skied the ball over to the relief of the American players. The persistent Panamanians didn't stop there and finally equalized.
Guzan was forced to make another big save again when Gabriel Torres beat the U.S. defenders to the ball once again but the ball was pushed right into the path of Miguel Camargo who put the equalizer in the net and the New York City FC player ran off in celebration. The United States defenders were not tracking their runners and that resulted in a lot of rebound shots which eventually led to the equalizer.
In the final half hour of the match, both sides were screaming for a hero. The stage was set, game tied at one, anybody could have stepped up for their nation. Unfortunately for the viewers, neither side grabbed a second goal and the match ended as a draw. This may not surprise anybody who did their research prior to the game. Heading into the match, the last three meetings between the two nations also ended in a draw at one.
Following the match vs Panama, the United States will prepare for their next match where they will face off against Martinique. The United States will hope for a better result than they got vs. Panama. Panama will square off against Nicaragua next and will also be looking to pick up three points. Both sides are favored to finish as the top two in Group B and should have no problem doing so.