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#USAvPAN: Another High Stakes Matchup

The U.S. Men’s National Team and Panama have a lot of history, but it’s all very recent.

Somewhat surprisingly, the teams didn’t meet for the first time until the 1993 Gold Cup. It took 11 years until they played again. Since their 1-1 World Cup qualifying draw in Panama City in September 2004, the sides have played some very memorable matches.

There’s Panama’s first and only win against the United States, the lone defeat for the U.S. in the Group Stage of a Gold Cup to this day. Then there’s the USA defeating Panama on penalties in the 2005 Gold Cup Final, and Break Shea’s game winner in a rematch of the final in 2013.

None of those games, however, provided the drama that unfolded in the final match of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup a few short months after the Gold Cup triumph.

With the U.S. easing into their seventh straight World Cup berth a month earlier, Jurgen Klinsmann had the opportunity to evaluate his roster in competitive match situations, while the team got to play pseudo “King Maker” in determining who between Panama and Mexico would advance to the Intercontinental playoff with New Zealand.

With Panama needing a win and a Mexico loss to advance, U.S. players were asked prior to the game about the potential for laying down in the match in order to keep the team’s biggest rivals out of the World Cup.

 “We weren’t really looking at scenarios at that point,” Graham Zusi told ussoccer.com. “We had qualified, but we were looking to finish out the campaign on a strong note. The World Cup team hadn’t been selected yet, so you’re looking for a place in the 23 guys going to Brazil and you’re fighting until the end.”

Still, the match had more meaning for Panama and they came out firing in front of their home crowd as Gabriel Torres found the game’s first goal in the 18th minute. Brad Davis’ corner picked out Michael Orozco to equalize for the U.S. in the 64th minute, forcing Panama to go searching for another goal to advance.

With Mexico trailing 2-1 at Costa Rica, Panama got a dramatic go-ahead goal in the 83rd minute when Luis Tejada pounced on a rebound at the six-yard box, electrifying the crowd at Estadio Rommel Fernandez.

As the game entered stoppage time, Panama looked to be heading towards the two-match playoff with New Zealand, but with a team full of players fighting for a spot in Brazil, the U.S. struck back as Davis picked out Zusi who headed home the equalizer in the 92nd minute, sending the packed stadium into utter despair.

 “When that goal went in and the stadium went absolutely silent, I’ve not heard something to that effect,” remembered Zusi. “It was really surreal, a strange feeling.”

With Panamanian dreams all but shattered, the U.S. added insult to injury by grabbing a game-winner from Aron Johannsson, who tucked his low blast inside the left post a minute later. 

Under another scenario, Johannsson would have celebrated wildly. The goal was the first of his international career and capped an incredible stoppage time comeback, but driving the final dagger into Panamanian World Cup hopes instead saw him give a muted reaction.

“Obviously it’s nice to win, but you just see all the players went down.  They had a very tough time and the whole stadium is quiet,” Johannsson told ussoccer.com. “It was mixed emotions. Obviously for us, we go out to win every single game and for me to score the winning goal and first of my national team career is very special, but the circumstances were a bit strange.”

After the final whistle blew, the U.S. players consoled their counterparts more than they celebrated themselves.

“It was tough to say something to them because we just beat them and kicked them out of the World Cup,” continued Johannsson. “They just fell down crying on the pitch. It was a difficult situation to be in. We just walked around, shook their hands and tried to tell them to keep their heads up. It’s hard to know what to say and it’s hard to be in that situation especially when you lose in the 90th minute and almost qualify for the World Cup.”

The teams find themselves in a similar situation as they enter Monday’s group finale at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan. A Panama win would guarantee their advancement as the second-place team from Group A and a draw would potentially get them through in second or third place.

However, another loss to the U.S. could see them miss the knockout round for the first time since last missing the tournament in 2003.

While the two teams played in a friendly earlier this year, the stinging loss to the U.S. in October 2013 certainly stays with the Panamanian team.

“There will always be that little spot in the back of their mind where they’re thinking about that game and what we did to them,” said Zusi. “I fully expect them to come out and treat this game like it’s the most important of their lives. It’s certainly not going to be an easy one.”

“It probably sits in them that we knocked them out of the World Cup and I think they really want to beat us,” agreed Johannsson. “I think all the teams in CONCACAF really want to beat us. They come out there and fight their best against us every single time. It’s going to be a tough game, but we’re ready for it and we have players that have played difficult games before. We go out there and try our best to get three points again.”

Knee Injury Rules Brad Davis Out of 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup

CHICAGO (June 30, 2015) — Due to a knee injury, Houston Dynamo midfielder Brad Davis has been ruled out of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. U.S. Soccer is in the process of submitting the required paperwork to CONCACAF  to allow for a replacement.

Per tournament rules, pending CONCACAF approval a team may replace an injured player on the roster up to 24 hours prior to its first match due to injury. The player must come from the 35-man preliminary roster, which was due on June 5.

Meantime, Atlas defender Greg Garza has been brought into camp and will be included on the roster for the friendly against Guatemala on July 3 in Nashville (5:30 p.m. CT, FOX Sports 1, UniMás, Univision Deportes Network).

The U.S. team is training in Nashville ahead of its final tune-up before the start of the Gold Cup. Ticket sales have already surpassed 33,000, ensuring a record crowd for a soccer game in the state of Tennessee.

 

Klinsmann Calls 23 Players to Defend Gold Cup Title

CHICAGO (June 23, 2015) – U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has named the 23-player roster that will defend the USA’s title at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

The roster includes 17 players from the 2014 FIFA World Cup squad. Ten players from this group have been a part of USA teams that have won a Gold Cup in the past, including six from the squad that won in 2013.

The MNT will take the pitch for a final Gold Cup tune-up against Guatemala on July 3 at LP Field in Nashville. The game will be broadcast live on FOX Sports 1, UniMás and Univision Deportes Network. Ticket sales for that game have already exceeded 25,000 and it is on track to break the record for attendance at a soccer game in Tennessee. (TICKETS)

Four days later, the five-time Gold Cup champions will begin their quest at title defense in the 13th edition of the tournament with the opening round match against Honduras on July 7 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. That game will also be broadcast live on FOX Sports 1 and UniMás. (GOLD CUP SCHEDULE)

Twelve CONCACAF teams will compete for the Gold Cup trophy: three from North America, five from Central America and four from the Caribbean. The winning team qualifies for a playoff to determine which CONCACAF team participates at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup (a World Cup dress rehearsal that features the champion from each region in the world, the defending World Cup Champion, and the host, which in 2017 will be Russia).

With the Gold Cup win in 2013, the U.S. has already qualified for that playoff. Should the MNT win the Gold Cup this summer, it would earn an automatic bid for the Confederations Cup, which is the ultimate goal for Klinsmann and the team.

“Our approach for putting together the roster for this summer’s Gold Cup, which is very, very important to us, is obviously to do everything possible to win this competition," said Klinsmann. "Winning it would qualify us for the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia, so putting the pieces together is very crucial. That’s why we came out with a roster full of quality, but also a lot of experience; players that are used to playing in the CONCACAF region and also younger players that came through the ranks over the last year that made a stamp on the senior National Team program. It’s an exciting roster, and obviously we have a chance to make some changes after the group stage if necessary. We put all of these things into consideration, and we believe we have a very, very strong group that can win this prestigious tournament.”

The MNT is coming off two huge road wins against No. 6-ranked Netherlands and reigning World Cup champion Germany, and is riding a four-match unbeaten streak against opponents ranked in the top 20 in the world (3-0-1). The USA is 4-2-1 on the year.

After the Group Stage, teams that qualify for the quarterfinal round may replace up to six players on the roster.

U.S. Roster By Position: Detailed Roster
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa/2007), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake/2011, 2013), William Yarbrough (Club Leon)
DEFENDERS (7): Ventura Alvarado (Club America), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC/2009), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy/2013), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Tim Ream (Bolton Wanderers/2011)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake/2009, 2013), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes/2011, 2013), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC/2007, 2011), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo/2005), Mix Diskerud (New York City FC/2013), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt), DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham Hotspur), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC/2011), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC/2005, 2007, 2011), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes/2011, 2013)

U.S. ROSTER NOTES:

  • Seventeen players on this roster were a part of the MNT’s 2014 FIFA World Cup squad, marking the highest return rate of players between the two rosters in years where the Gold Cup has followed the FIFA World Cup (1991, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2013).
  • Six players were a part of the USA team that won the Gold Cup in 2013: Kyle Beckerman, Alejandro Bedoya, Mix Diskerud, Omar Gonzalez, Nick Rimando and Chris Wondolowski
  • The USA has reached the Gold Cup Final in five straight tournaments and six out of the last seven. The team finished in third place in 2003 after losing to a Kaka-led Brazil.
  • Clint Dempsey (15), Michael Bradley (11) and Beckerman (11) have all played in more than 10 Gold Cup games. Bedoya and Wondolowski are also experienced players on the roster with eight Gold Cup caps each.
  • Thirteen players on the roster have previously played in the Gold Cup, of which 10 have lifted the trophy
  • The 23 players on the roster average 30.5 international appearances with 14 having played in a minimum of 20 matches for the U.S. MNT
  • The USA has won the Gold Cup five times (1991, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2013) and finished as the runner-up four times (1992, 1998, 2009, 2011). The MNT has finished outside of the top four only once (2000).
  • Dempsey (5), Wondolowski (5), Beckerman, Bradley, and Diskerud, have all scored goals in previous Gold Cups. All five of Wondolowski’s goals came in the 2013 Gold Cup, where he tied for the tournament’s Golden Boot.
  • Dempsey is the only two-time winner (2005, 2007) and the only three-time participant.
  • Brad Davis scored the game-winning penalty kick in the shootout versus Panama in the 2005 Gold Cup Final.
  • Seven different players from this roster have scored for the USA in 2015: Jozy Altidore, Bradley, John Brooks, Dempsey, Diskerud, Aron Johannsson, and Gyasi Zardes.
  • Bradley is on track to earn his 100th cap in the MNT’s opening match with Honduras on July 7. He now has 98 appearances since debuting for the USA in 2006. He is in sole possession of 16th place on the MNT all-time list.
  • The win against Germany its last time out was the fourth victory for the U.S. MNT over a top-10 ranked opponent since Jurgen Klinsmann took over the helm in 2011.
  • Brad Evans assisted on the game-winning goal in the team’s win over the reigning World Cup champion
  • Tim Ream has earned honors as the Bolton Wanderers Player of the Year in each of the last two seasons
  • Against Netherlands on June 5, Brad Guzan made his first appearance since he played against Colombia on Nov. 14, 2014. It was his first start of 2015. Also picking up the win against Germany, Guzan is a perfect 2-0-0 in 2015.
  • Fabian Johnson helped lift Borussia Mönchengladbach to a third-place finish in the Bundesliga that earned the club a spot in the 2016 UEFA Champions League group stage. The German side went 10-0-2 with Johnson in the starting lineup this season.
  • Johannsson recorded four goals in his final three matches as AZ Alkmaar snatched the third spot in the Dutch Eredivisie and a place in the 2016 UEFA Europa League.
  • Alfredo Morales played a key role in FC Ingolstadt securing first place in the second division in Germany and subsequent promotion to the Bundesliga.
  • Bradley has played every minute of the USA's seven matches so far in 2015. In addition to Bradley, two other MNT players have appeared in all seven games this year: Zardes and DeAndre Yedlin.
  • In the absence of Dempsey, Bradley has started as the team’s captain in five straight matches.
  • Graham Zusi and Davis were both part of the team that represented the U.S. in the World Cup last summer and are the only players on the roster without an appearance for the MNT in 2015
  • William Yarbrough, 26, was born and raised in Mexico to two American parents. He has marshaled the backline for Club Leon to the 2013 Apertura and 2014 Clausura titles.
  • Ventura Alvarado has appeared in five straight matches since making his debut in a U.S. uniform on March 25 against Denmark. Alvarado is a regular starter for the Club America team that captured the CONCACAF Champions League title and a trip to the FIFA Club World Cup. Alvarado has started in the last three games for the U.S. MNT, in which the team is 3-0-0.
  • Seven leagues from six countries are represented on the roster: Canada, England, Germany, Mexico, Netherlands and the United States. 
  • Altidore leads the team in points with five in 2015 on two goals and an assist. 

 


#USMNT Travels to Salvador for Round of 16 Clash Against Belgium

The U.S. Men's National Team travels from São Paulo to Salvador for Round 16 at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The USA takes on Belgium on Tuesday, July 1 with live coverage on ESPN, WatchESPN and Univision at 4 p.m. ET.
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