USA seeking vengeance against Panama in Gold Cup semifinals

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Photo by Hunter Dorton/ISIphotos.com

 

By FRANCO PANIZO

HOUSTON – The U.S. men's national team may be downplaying that its semifinal match against Panama is a chance at redemption, but that doesn't mean the Americans aren't hoping for a little payback.

The United States takes on Panama for the second time in the Gold Cup on Wednesday night (7 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer Channel/Univision), and the match at Reliant Stadium won't only provide the U.S. team with a chance to reach its fourth consecutive Gold Cup final. It will also give head coach Bob Bradley and his team an opportunity to exact revenge against a Panama side that handed it its first-ever Gold Cup group stage loss just 11 days ago in Tampa, Fla.

"I will say we were disappointed with how we played against Panama so having the opportunity to redeem ourselves is nice," Landon Donovan said at Tuesday's press conference.

The two teams enter the game under somewhat different circumstances. The United States is fresh off its most complete performance of the tournament, a 2-0 win over a previously undefeated Jamaican team that had not conceded a goal in group play. Panama, on the other hand, is coming off a tough, penalty kick victory over El Salvador that was physically and mentally taxing.

What both teams do have in common entering this match is that they both will be without their top striker. Jozy Altidore suffered a hamstring injury in the early moments of the Jamaica game, while Panama lost Blas Perez to a red card following the end of regulation against El Salvador.

"Anytime you lose one of your prolific players, it's difficult," Tim Howard said. "You have to bring a guy in who can match him or surpass that. It's not always easy when you're talking about your best players. I don't know how they'll cope."

That Carlos Bocanegra and the U.S. defense won't have to go up against Perez is just one of the many aspects that gives the Americans reason to believe Wednesday's match will be different from the first time they played Panama. Eric Lichaj is now the left back, Bocanegra has moved to centerback and the United States is playing a much-improved style of soccer. Those variables have the United States brimming with confidence.

"The key here is just continuing to do what we did against Jamaica," Clint Dempsey said. "Continue taking the game to them, be strong defensively and really not give them a chance to breathe, don't give them too many chances, and just keep taking the game to them.

"If they sit back – I don't know what they're going to do – but make sure we're confident in our passing, just how we did against Jamaica. Be able to find players in between lines, be able to be confident in the attacking third, be able to create chances and hopefully finish one or two. If we get a goal, it's going to put a lot of pressure on them. They're going to have to open up."

With captain Felipe Baloy manning Panama's defense, the United States is likely going to need a big performance from Juan Agudelo, who seems like the odds-on favorite to replace Altidore in the starting lineup.

Agudelo fared well as a lone striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation against Jamaica, but he struggled to make much happen against Panama in the group match. Agudelo seems to be eager to make up for his flat showing that day, tweeting "Off to Houston,rr, revenge rematch" the day the U.S. team departed Washington, D.C.

An improved Agudelo outing won't be the only big change the U.S. team needs. It'll also need an improved collective effort defensively, especially in the early moments of the match. Despite winning its past two games by a combined score of 3-0, the United States almost surrendered a goal in the opening minutes of each match.

Against Gabriel Gomez, Luis Tejada and the rest of Los Canaleros' skillful attack, the U.S. defense will need to be more focused as well. In the group match, Panama netted in part because of a blown assignment by Altidore following a set piece and on a penalty kick, two goals the Americans know they shouldn't have given up.

"We gave up two soft goals, that was the biggest thing," Bocanegra said. "A few defensive lapses and other than that, we pounded them, we peppered them for most of the game. We had to push it so we had to open ourselves up a little bit and they would get a few counterattacks here and there. This game we just need to be sharper defensively."

Do that and the Americans won't only completely forget about the group stage loss to Panama — they'll also accomplish their goal of reaching the final.

This entry was posted in CONCACAF, CONCACAF Gold Cup, International Soccer, U.S. Men's National Team. Bookmark the permalink.

51 Responses to USA seeking vengeance against Panama in Gold Cup semifinals

  1. timmer says:

    I believe our goal is to win the final, not just reach the final!

  2. Rex says:

    Houston will be rocking!

  3. Brad says:

    One step at a time there bud! Let’s concentrate on Panama first. We need to worry about finishing our chances…

  4. Bob34 says:

    +1 Why writers continue to try and diminish expectations elludes me….

    If we beat Panama and lose to Mexico in the final, while not perfect, it’d be OK… But to say the goal is just to get to the final is wrong in sooo many ways. If we get beat again by Panama, that’s not good at all. Something drastic will need to change…

  5. Brad says:

    We need to score early to demoralize Panama quickly, get them out of their game plan (which may be parking the bus and looking for the quick counter again) and have the opportunity to rest players in the 2nd half. A 90 min scrap fest doesn’t help us at all…

  6. Freddie Footballer says:

    I think how Bob uses subs in this game will be key as we need to balance winning with keeping guys as fresh as possible for Saturday if we win…Wondo should make the bench since Altidore is out and we’re short on forwards. M. bradley looks tired so I expect Edu to get some time in the second half. I also expect Bedoya and Kljestan to play significant roles in this one.

  7. s-bah says:

    Panama has a strong core of players and will feel like they’re playing with house money, but the type of match they’ll be hoping for will not be the same as our last meeting that they won. This game will have a much different flow to it and the Americans should do a better job of finding the net. If we do, at the least, enough to create as many chances as our previous meeting, we’ll score 2 or 3 easily. On the other hand, I find it hard to believe they’ll be able to generate 2 goals while parking the bus for 90 minutes.

    ***My x factor matchup: Armando Cooper vs Carlos Bocanegra. Boca is a grizzled vet, but Cooper handed him his jock a few times last meeting and really got into his head. Boca is not fleet-a-foot and Cooper could give us problems coming up on that right side.

  8. Sporting Wood says:

    just for –ites and giggles – what does panama have to do beat the US? Sit back and hope for a us offensive breakdown and a counter?

    also what’s they yellow card story with jones/ bradley – a second card would be a disaster

  9. Felix says:

    I think our goal is to win the final, I think what the writers and some fans mean when they say reach the finals is that to think that we are going to beat Mexico (or whomever) in the GC finals for the rest of time is unrealistic; they are going to win some and we are going to win some. Yes, we should expect to win – however; to assume and lose our minds if we don’t win every final is irrational in my opinion.

  10. Felix says:

    I agree, I say blitz them early, throw them off their games, and hopefully, if everything goes well, we can rest some guys for the final.

  11. Brad says:

    the two-yellows-in-two-games rule is total BS. How is it fair that a player get two warnings in two separate games and then have to sit out the next game?

  12. kimo says:

    The USMNT needs to start playing progressively 100% of the time. 4-2-3-1 is absolutely the way to go. With our available player pool, it’s clearly the way to go. It’s the only system that allows us to pass and maintain possession. We need to exert our will on other teams even if the other team is superior in talent. Obviously, Panama is not superior. My point is simple…stick to a system and go with it. Reverting back into a defensive 4-4-2 would be a disaster as we don’t have a true #10 to lock down the center of the pitch. We’ve seen it time and time again…2 defensive midfielders in a 4-4-2 simply don’t cut the mustard. PLEASE Bob…stick w/ the 4-2-3-1/

  13. Sporting Wood says:

    it’s tough but every team deals with it – not sure what the Mexican sides yellow card accumulations are either.

    BS part for me is that some teams really isolate players and try to get that second yellow – strategy. if jones is carrying a yellow and the US is leading – need to sub him out

  14. Topher says:

    The locations for these matches should be decided by random draw.

  15. Topher says:

    Oops. Wrong thread. Wow.

  16. Stephen says:

    +1 That rule is antiquated, but then again so is not having goal line technology to help your officials out.

  17. D says:

    Will this game be on Concacaftv?

  18. Paul says:

    Ready For Game Day Doubleheader. USMNT win and a Baby Nats win vs the Uzbeks.

    Why no love for the U-17 World cup on the site?

  19. ACS says:

    Are they showing the U-17 WC online, or where can I watch the game today besides Mexico?

  20. no love nola says:

    i wouldnt be surprised at a wondo start with an agudelo sub around 45-60, that seems to be where juan is at his best. chris did put it over the bar pretty badly last time but right after he was in that nice string of one touches that saw the close-call shot by bradley.

    do we think that they’ll start w/ sacha at the recessed attacking mid again? he could be in the midst of one of his streaks of effective, creative play.

    glad the haters havent shown up yet.

    usa!

  21. Annelid Gustator says:

    US needs to not let that hole open up on top of the 18. I think that means that if one of the two holding mids is unrecoverably up-field, the other is central (not drifting out to wing player with the ball). Possibly this means that the fullbacks need to be coming on with pressure slightly higher up?

  22. Jeremy says:

    does anyone like this 2 yellows in 2 games rule. It’s so bad.

  23. partnerincrime says:

    How many tickets have they sold to this game?

  24. Brian S. says:

    ESPN-U has been showing the U-17s, at least the US games. If you missed the game against the Czechs then you missed a great performance by our youths. Not to overhype but we have some serious potential coming up through the ranks

  25. Brad says:

    maybe I’m a worrier, but did you notice that 75% of the U17 are born to foreign parents or foreign born. I hope we don’t have problems in the future. Let’s cap all these U17 to the men’s team asap!!

  26. Rowsdower says:

    It is sold out.. Having Mexico play at 9 helps.

  27. Paul says:

    Isn’t the U.S. seeking revenge as opposed to vengeance (which is what they will be displaying)?

  28. Brad says:

    I think it’s retribution…

  29. Bob34 says:

    Right. I agree with everything yous said. IMHO, Mr. Panzo should’ve just simply said something like; “they’ll also be one step closer to accomplishing their goal of winning the final.”

  30. Judging Amy says:

    I think ESPN3 is showing the U-17 too. Or Galavision apparently.

  31. Paul says:

    Haha. You are right and I was thinking the same thing, although Arriola and Pelosi look the real deal. Also very impressed with the left back although I forget his name. Regardless Wilmer has the team playing some great soccer.

    Also a few other u17 games have been on espnu – in hd. I was annoyed when I could watch the U17s in hd but not the MNT against Jamaica. Come on Comcast – get FOXSOCCER in HD!

  32. jsf says:

    Can the US replace Altidore? It seems that he is clearly out for tonight, but if he has a legitimate hamstring strain, then he’ll be out for the potential final. Could Bradley bring in Buddle or Herc?

  33. Annelid Gustator says:

    Acosta. But I’m not impressed by him. Every game he flubs positioning *badly* a few times. His saving grace is that he’s quite athletic. Marvell Wynne 2.0.

  34. Annelid Gustator says:

    No, he cannot. Roster of 23, limited replacement possible prior to first game. The Mexico thing is a one-off.

  35. jsf says:

    Wow. I bet Bradley is wishing he brought another forward instead of Adu or Rogers. Wondo has been ok, but not great so far. Having options in a potential final against Mex would have been nice.

  36. Paul says:

    He is also the youngest player on the field for us. I like his grit and he has time to grow – still time to polish him up.

  37. Benny says:

    Panama players come in with 4 yellows and one red so they have to be careful. The U.S. comes in with one yellow, Jones. If the U.S. gets a comfortable lead, I would sub Jones early. I would also sub MB in this game. There is no need for him to go 90 minutes, especially if he looks tired.

    Marquez, for Mexico, received a yellow against Guatemala. If the Honduras- Mexico match gets physical and really nasty, it will bode well for the U.S. Both Mexico and the U.S. should win today, though.

  38. Erik says:

    THIS is exactly what I thought when I watched this game… most of these players, if good enough, probably won’t make it to our senior team.

  39. JJ's shin says:

    Agudelo gets international goal #3 tonight. Bet on it.

  40. away goals says:

    Even worse is the group stage version where two yellows in three games is a suspension.

    Everybody has to deal with the same rule, but different refs have different standards for yellows so it doesn’t balance out over only three matches.

    I guess that’s why depth is so important.

  41. froboy says:

    Wish we had Herculez

  42. Annelid Gustator says:

    I know he’s playing up a little, but his progress (unlike, say, Pelosi’s), has not really been evident over the last year or so of events I’ve seen him in.

  43. ACS says:

    Thanks

  44. away goals says:

    Jamaica 3-0. Who’s going to score for the us? And bornstein should never etc, etc.

  45. Annelid Gustator says:

    If you look at the GC roster, you’ll find that 9 of 23 played on US U17 at some point (14 of 23 played on US U20, 15 of 23 on any country’s U20 team).

    So, while most of them won’t make it, a bunch of the senior team will have played for us at U17 and most by U20.

  46. DC Josh says:

    It is time for the USMNT to develop a confident personality. I don’t want to hear from the coaching staff or players about how the other team is dangerous when half their players have full-time jobs while playing for a 2nd division team in Central America. Tonight they make a stamp on the game from the first whistle, and take the game to the opponent, dictating how both teams will play. Let’s not only start playing like we are a top-16 country in the world, but also think and act like one too.

  47. KNPonder says:

    Just read the article again as I must have missed it the first time. Bocanegra said, “We pounded them, we peppered them for most of the game.” Anybody else catch this comment? I think our captain might be a bit delusional. We only had 3 more shots on goal than Panama. While we did have 61% possession, I would put money that our possession advantage was less than double digits after the first half. After the half, Panama was happy to sit back and park the bus after going up 2-0.

  48. Adam M. says:

    Its really neither. Vengence is violent retailatory punishment for a wrong done. Revenge is retribution for a wrong. Both imply that the initial wrong was an immoral act. Panama’s defeat of the US probably doesn’t count as immoral — they didn’t cheat their way to victory. The right term is Vindicate, in the sense that US needs to absolve itself of its prior loss by responding with a worthy performance.

  49. Tom says:

    I’d agree. Winning the final is their goal, not reaching it.

  50. Braden says:

    Marquez is the only mexican players sitting on a yellow.

  51. LAURARAQUEL04 says:

    YES I HOPE U.S.A WIN WITH MXICO