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Panama Defeats U.S., Finishes Third at the Gold Cup

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The United States lost to Panama 3-2 in a penalty shootout after a dismal performance.

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The United States ended its disappointing Gold Cup run in a fitting manner. It lost to Panama 3-2 in penalties (1-1 after extra time) and finished in fourth place.

The first half of the match was quite dull and the U.S. failed to impress. There was little to separate the two teams in the opening 10 minutes of the match, as they struggled to maintain possession.

In the 6th minute, Anibal Godoy of Panama had the match's first shot on target but Brad Guzan easily saved his weak attempt. In the 16th minute, Fabian Johnson had a good opportunity but sent his shot from about 15 yards out straight at the goalkeeper.

In the 36th minute, the Panamanians had the best chance of the half. Armando Cooper sprinted into the box and after dribbling around Brad Guzan, his shot was cleared off of the goal line by a sliding Tim Ream.

Panama had another chance to break the deadlock in first half stoppage time, but Rolando Blackburn sent a volley just wide of the right post.

Throughout the first half, the USMNT was content to simply maintain possession in its defensive third. The team was constantly passing the ball back to goalkeeper Brad Guzan.

Although the first half ended goalless, Panama had the better of the play with three shots on target. The U.S. only managed a single shot on target all half.

Despite the U.S.' apathetic first half performance, Klinsmann didn't make any changes at halftime.

Early in the second half, the U.S. had a chance to tie the match as Chris Wondowlowski headed a Timothy Chandler cross just wide of the left post.

Panama had another golden opportunity in the 54th minute. Rolando Blackburn got on the end of a corner, but his header was cleared off the line by Fabian Johnson at the near post.

In the 55th minute, Panama went ahead. A well played though ball split Tim Ream and John Anthony Brooks and fell to Roberto Nurse. Brooks was able to catch up to Nurse, but Nurse faked going one way and cut the ball the other beating Brooks. Nurse then calmly sent a shot into the bottom left corner that a helpless Brad Guzan could do nothing about.

Jurgen Klinsmann, sensing that changes were needed brought on Clint Dempsey for Chris Wondolowski and DeAndre Yedlin for Graham Zusi in the 60th minute.

In the 65th minute, Panama sent a long ball into the box that was headed by Roberto Nurse to Roman Torres. Torres then just pulled his volley wide of the left post.

In the 70th minute, against the run of play, the U.S. finally scored. Substitute DeAndre Yedlin perfectly controlled a long ball in the box and laid it off for fellow substitute Clint Dempsey at the top of the box. A falling Dempsey buried the ball in the back of the net.

In the 81st minute, Brad Guzan made a stellar save to preserve the 1-1 scoreline. Eric Davis played a great cross into the box towards Rolando Blackburn. Blackburn sent a strong header to the bottom right corner but Guzan got down quickly and made the save.

Blackburn, who had been dangerous all game, was subbed off in the 88th minute for Abdiel Arroyo.

The second half ended with the teams still tied at 1-1 so the game headed to extra time.

Before extra time began, both teams made changes. DaMarcus Beasley entered the match for Omar Gonzalez and Darwin Pinzon came on for Alfredo Stephens.

In the 97th minute, this previously calm match became heated. DeAndre Yedlin elbowed a Panamanian player in the face, although whether it was intentional is debatable.

The two teams confronted each other and a few shoves were exchanged. DeAndre Yedlin was booked for the foul and Timothy Chandler and Anibal Godoy were booked for arguing with the referees during the scuffle.

In the 100th minute, Tim Ream and Brad Guzan had a nasty collision. Ream and Guzan both went up to stop a floated cross and collided as Guzan caught the ball. Guzan was fine but Ream looked potentially injured and was down on the ground receiving medical treatment for about three minutes.

Guzan had another excellent save in the 107th minute. Robert Nurse beat the offside trap and received a through ball that put him left of the goal but one v. one against Guzan. Nurse fired a shot that an outstretched Guzan parried past the post.

Neither team could break the deadlock in the second period of extra time and so the game headed to penalties.

Aron Johannsson and Roman Torres scored the first penalty for each of their respective teams (1-1). Then Clint Dempsey and Abdiel Arroyo scored (2-2). Next Fabian Johnson skied his penalty over the bar and Armando Cooper's was saved (2-2). Michael Bradley stepped up only to have his penalty saved and Harold Cummings scored (3-2). Finally DaMarcus Beasley missed, giving Panama the 3-2 shootout victory.

Takeaways

The U.S. played terribly

I don't even know where to start when discussing what the U.S. is doing wrong. Players are making so many inexcusable mistakes. Passing the ball is one of the most fundamental parts of the game. The USMNT had way too much trouble possessing the ball and too many players missed simple passes.

The U.S. also struggled defensively. The U.S. has tall and athletic defenders who should have no problem winning balls in the air. Instead the back line struggles to deal with crosses and set pieces.

John Anthony Brooks in particular is beaten far too easily in the air. A 6'4'' center-back should not be easily beaten in the air.

Apathy

The one thing that was absolutely inexcusable about this performance was the lack of effort.

Playing for the national team should be an incredible honor for any soccer player. The chance to represent your entire nation is one that only the best soccer players receive.

Many of the players on the team were content to walk and play at a snail's pace. Numerous U.S. players looked disinterested in playing in this match.

Players should be giving 110%, playing with heart and leaving everything out on the field. MLS players Jermaine Jones and Dax McCarty always put in maximum effort for their clubs. Right now the U.S. does not have enough players who are willing to work hard like McCarty and Jones.

Forget and Move On

Unfortunately this was not a dream, the U.S. was shockingly awful during the 2015 Gold Cup. The team will need to quickly forgot about its performance, as it has several important matches in the fall.

The USMNT must prepare for the October playoff, against the winner of Mexico v. Jamaica, that will determine which team CONCACAF sends to the 2017 Confederations Cup. Klinsmann has said that qualifying for the Confederations Cup is a priority and failing to do so would be terrible.

Friendlies against Peru and Brazil in September will provide stern tests to ready the team for this playoff.