The US Survives The Bumps, Grinds Out a 3-0 Win Against Panama

By Andrew Dixon, III
Updated: June 10, 2005

MIAMI, FLA.—Another Central American country.

Another 3 goals.

Another shootout.

Another 3 points.

But while Costa Rica were seemingly always in their match against the US last Saturday, the US scored their 3 goals against Panama by half time and erased all doubt. 3-0 to the USA and a giant step towards the World Cup next summer in Germany. The US has now scored 9 goals on Panama over their last two matches.

Taking a slightly less aggressive apporach on the road against a team that really needed a result, DaMarcus Beasley was dropped back into the midfield as the US came out in their traditional 4-4-2 alignment with Eddie Pope and Carlos Bocanegra in the middle of the US defense.

DMB working on Felipe Baloy (AP).

DMB working on Felipe Baloy (AP)

Yet it was Bocanegra’s offense that the got the US off and running in this match. The US had won a corner in the 6th minute and Bocanegra outjumped his marker on the Landon Donovan offering. Panamanian GK Donaldo Gonzalez was unable to keep the ball out of the net despite getting both hands on it and the US had a dream start, 1-0.

Panama however did not rollover and die and after Bocanegra misjudged a bounce in the 13th minute Jose Luis Garces got loose and fired a shot directly at GK Kasey Keller. The Central Americans started stringing together more passes and momentum looked to be swinging their way as the boisterous crowd started making themselves heard.

However in the 20th minute they failed to clear the ball from their end and instead were content to play too many short passes in the left rear guard. Not smart. Steve Ralston stripped the ball from one of Panama’s defenders and whipped in a cross. Donovan was there to head the ball low, to the left and past Gonzalez. 2-0 and deafening silence in Panama City.

Sensing the urgency, Panama tried to get back into the match through Garces who got behind Pope but was unable redirect a long pass on goal in the 24th minute.

Keller was a busier in the first half of this match than he was against Costa Rica and he was called upon to deny the Panamanians once again. In the 26th minute, Panamanian striker Robert Brown was able to raise up and redirect a header on goal. Keller saved that, scrambled to his feet to deny Felipe Baloy who attempted to slam home the rebound. The ensuring rebound came back to Brown who outjumped Bocanegra to head the ball only to see Keller save that one as well. 3 incredible saves in less than 10 seconds. Kasey Keller is simply a brick wall.

Panama continued to pressure the backline of the US and Garces thought he had gotten Panama back into the match when, in the 32nd minute, he escaped from Kerry Zavagnin and Bocanegra and shot from just outside the box. His shot beat Keller but not the left post and the rebound was cleared.

While it looked like Panama was getting back into the match, it was time for the US put the nail in the coffin. Brian McBride drew a freekick on the left side and got into it with a defender who headbutted him afterwards. Donovan’s resulting free kick was headed out into the path of Frankie Hejduk who drilled a shot from 30 yards out. The shot was blocked by Felipe Baloy but right to McBride who left footed the rebound past Gonzalez. 3-0.

The game, for all intents and purposes, was over and the Panamanians seemed more interested in fouling players than trying to comeback. Fouls on Beasley in the 44th minute, Noonan in th 51st (a push that earned Baloy a yellow card) an elbow the face of Pope by Luis Medina and a ridiculous foul on Clint Dempsey in the 89th minute underscored their lack of commitment to soccer from there on in. The US was fortunate to get out of the match with no injuries.

The US still remains 2nd just behind Mexico who held off Trinidad and Tobago to win 2-0 and ahead of Costa Rica who were 3-2 winners over Guatemala.