TAMPA, Fla. (March 13, 2008) – The U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team beat Panama, 1-0, to gain sole possession of second place in Group A at 2008 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying. The U.S. will automatically advance with a win or draw against Honduras in their final group match, or if Panama defeats Cuba in the opening match of the doubleheader. The two matches will be played on Saturday, March 15 at Raymond James Stadium, with the U.S. game kicking off at 7 p.m. ET.
Freddy Adu converted from the penalty spot for the game’s only goal in the 42nd minute after Jozy Altidore was fouled inside the penalty area. Altidore ran onto a through ball from Eddie Gaven and drove in alone on Panama goalkeeper Jose Calderon. The speedy forward pushed the ball past the charging ‘keeper, leaving Calderon no choice but to pull him down. Adu stepped up to take the ensuing penalty and fired to the lower right corner, scoring his second goal in as many games.
“I'm really pleased with the effort,” said U.S. Under-23 MNT head coach Peter Nowak. “I think our team played with a lot of heart tonight and we got the result after a very hard fight on the field…We're going to recover now and make sure we're ready for the third game." (More Quotes)
The U.S. started putting pressure on Panama early, earning a corner kick in the second minute, and hammering a dangerous shot from Stuart Holden three minutes later that went wide of Calderon’s goal.
Panama put 11 players behind the ball and was determined not to allow the U.S. attack to penetrate on the dribble, forcing the U.S. to play around them. The American pressure continued with quick passes through the midfield breaking down the Panama defense that earned a series of corner kicks. Adu combined with Holden in the 12th minute and Sacha Kljestan in the 14th to earn corner kicks, but both were picked out of the air by Calderon.
In the 30th minute, the U.S. broke through when Adu found Eddie Gaven streaking down the right side. Gaven slotted the ball back, but Holden’s shot was blocked by a defender.
Panama’s most dangerous chances throughout the game came from free kicks. In the 36th minute, a long free kick was played dangerously into the box that Michael Orozco was able to head clear. In the second half, Panama earned a free kick from just outside the corner of Chris Seitz’s box, with Nelson Barahona sending in an in-swinger. Maurice Edu headed the effort out of bounds, and the ensuing long throw-in from Adolfo Machado was cleared away.
The USA’s most dangerous chance of the second half came just minutes after the whistle, with Holden curling in a free kick from near the corner flag. The ball hit the ground and Orozco slid to touch it toward goal, nearly banking it in off of a defender.
In the 74th minute, Holden took a direct shot on goal from outside the box on a free kick, curling it over the wall and toward the near post, forcing a diving save from Calderon. At the other end a minute later, Panama’s Barahona swung in a free kick that was cleared away.
Stepping up their attack in the last quarter hour, Panama began to keep possession in search of the tying goal. With five minutes left to play, they swung a ball out wide for Barahona, who had space in front of him. The forward’s cross into the box was blocked out of bounds by Nathan Sturgis, and another long throw in from Adolfo Machado was headed away by Dax McCarty, neutralizing their last scoring opportunity of the match.
Group B action continues on Friday, March 14, at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. Canada takes on Haiti at 5:30 p.m. PT, and Mexico will face Guatemala at 8 p.m. PT in the second game of the double header. Guatemala sits atop the group with three points after defeating Haiti, 1-0, while Mexico and Canada are tied at one point each after a 1-1 draw in their opening game. The eight-team CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament, which includes national teams at the Under-23 age level, will send the two finalists to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
- U.S. UNDER-23 MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT -
Match-up: USA vs. Panama
Competition: 2008 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying
Venue: Raymond James Stadium; Tampa, Fla.
Date: March 13, 2008
Weather: Clear, pleasant – 75 degrees
1 2 F
USA 1 0 1
PAN 0 0 0
USA – Freddy Adu (penalty) 42nd minute
USA: 1-Chris Seitz; 2-Marvell Wynne, 3-Michael Orozco, 5-Nathan Sturgis, 6-Maurice Edu (capt.); 7-Stuart Holden, 10-Dax McCarty, 16-Sacha Kljestan, 20-Eddie Gaven (8-Sal Zizzo, 64); 11-Freddy Adu (14-Robbie Findley, 90), 12-Jozy Altidore (9-Charlie Davies, 90)
Subs not used: 4-Patrick Ianni, 13-Hunter Freeman, 18-Dominic Cervi, 19-Chad Barrett
Head Coach: Peter Nowak
PAN: 1-Jose Calderon; 13-Adolfo Machado, 3-Reinaldo Anderson, 5-Roman Torres; 6-Erick Vasquez, 17-Manuel Bonilla, 8-Cristian Vega (16-Alberto Quintero, 52), 18-Reggie Arosemena; 9-Gabriel Torres (7-Erwin Aguilar, 71), 10-Nelson Barahona (19-Carlos Rodriguez, 84), 20-Eduardo Jiminez
Subs not used: 2-Jean Carlos Cedeno, 11-Anibal Godoy, 12-Gilmar Torres, 15-Rolando Algandia
Head Coach: Raul Gonzalez
USA / PAN
Shots: 7 / 6
Shots on Goal: 3 / 2
Saves: 2 / 2
Corner Kicks: 7 / 2
Fouls: 25 / 28
Offsides: 2 / 5
USA – Marvell Wynne (caution) 18th minute
PAN – Manuel Bonilla (caution) 19.
PAN – Jose Calderon (caution) 41.
PAN – Alberto Quintero (caution) 58.
PAN – Adolfo Machado (caution) 72.
USA – Nathan Sturgis (caution) 90.
USA – Freddy Adu (caution) 90.
Referee: Dave Peterkin (JAM)
Asst. Referee: Ricardo Morgan (JAM)
Asst. Referee: Jeremy Taylor (BRB)
4th Official: Neal Brizan (TRI)
Sierra Mist Man of the Match: Sacha Kljestan