US shuts out Panama behind Dempsey and Zardes

Published Sunday, February 8, 2015 5:01 PM by Shane Barrow

The experiment continues for Jurgen Klinsmann and the US National Team as they get a new World Cup cycle started.  Today it was strength in the middle and all about pace on the wings.  Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore and Jermaine Jones down the heart of the pitch.  Speedsters DeAndre Yedlin, Brek Shea, Gyasi Zardes and Ibarra on the flanks.

Panama were standing toe to toe with the Americans and in the 14th minute a dangerous cross from Blas Perez forced US keeper Nick Rimando off his line for an intervention.  Only a minute later Panama earned a free kick just at the top of the penalty area, but they failed to pull off a set piece and rolled the shot into the wall.  Alarm bells for the US as the visitors were looking bright.

Things would change though.  In the 21st minute Jozy Altidore earned a dangerous free kick of his own.  Michael Bradley delivered, but Panama cleared.  Corner kick for the USA.  Again Bradley delivered and Panama barely cleared off the line.

In the 27th the Americans were in front and it was another corner.  A spectacular curling ball from Michael Bradley looped over Panama keeper Jaime Pinedo and into the back side netting.  A truly world class corner kick.  1-0 to the USA.

A lethal counter attack produced the second goal.  Gyasi Zardes stole a ball in the midfield and raced forward before slipping a perfectly weighted pass through to Clint Dempsey.  The veteran touched past the onrushing keeper before poking into the empty Panama net.  2-0 USA.

Just a couple of minutes later Panama were gifted a golden opportunity when US keeper Nick Rimando played a square ball out to Matt Besler.  It was a poor ball at best short hopping Besler and causing him to slip and fall.  The loose ball came right to Blas Perez who was face to face with Rimando.  He took one touch and blazed the ball high and wide.  Miles off target and a rare miss from the vastly experienced Perez.

Other than the Rimando slip up the US was playing some really nice soccer putting passes together and looking dangerous.  Most notably Gyasi Zardes was having quite the debut.

After the break Klinsmann brought on Sean Johnson to replace Rimando and Altidore needed to be replaced by Chris Wondolowski due to a sore hamstring. The opening twenty minutes were much the same as the first half.  Zardes and Dempsey were continuing to zip around.  Meanwhile Panama we're bringing on youngsters aged 17 and 18 to get valuable experience.

The Americans were still piling forward in attack pressing for another goal.  It was entertaining stuff from a squad that needed a good performance.  the only downside was an injury to young DeAndre Yedlin midway through the half.  A good result on the day and many things to build on for sure.
USA 2 Panama 0