PREVIEW: USA - PANAMA
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DAVID SMITH - Saturday, June 11, 2011
The United States can all but assure their place in the Gold Cup quarterfinals on Saturday night with a win over Group C second place team Panama.

A convincing win on Tuesday night over Canada put head coach Bob Bradley's squad in pole position in their group, and the team will be expecting to have few problems when they face Panama in Tampa, Florida.

A first-half goal by Jozy Altidore put the team ahead on Tuesday, and another after the break by Clint Dempsey saw them cruise to victory. The result was a welcome turnaround from their 4-0 thrashing at the hands of World Champions Spain in their lone warm-up before the tournament.

The victory was hardly a surprise, as the team has been historically dominant in the early stages of the competition, with an all-time record of 24 wins and two draws prior to the knockout round.

The Panamanians also got off to a flying start in their opening game against Guadeloupe, cruising to a 3-0 lead within the first hour. They were, however, forced to sweat out a late rally by the tiny island nation which saw a pair of late goals nearly bring them level.

They will come into the game with revenge on their minds, as the USA has been responsible for ending their Gold Cup hopes in the previous three tournaments. The Stars & Stripes won the 2005 final over Panama on penalties, and knocked them out at the quarterfinal stage in both 2007 and 2009.

Exacting any retribution will be a tough task. In the eight previous meetings between the two teams, the USA has notched up eight victories, with the teams drawing even on two occasions.

As the game is likely the crucial decider for securing advancement to the knock-out round, Bradley is almost certain to trot out his full-strength starting eleven, with few, if any changes to the lineup which beat Canada four days before.

The only real surprise amongst Tuesday's starters was the replacement of Oguchi Onyewu with Tim Ream in the central defense. The New York Red Bull player put together a strong performance paired with Clarence Goodson, and should hold onto his starting spot.

The young forward tandem of Jozy Altidore and Juan Agudelo also showed well against Canada, and will likely be on the field from the opening whistle on Saturday.

Central midfielder Michael Bradley is the only American carrying a caution into the game, however as single yellow cards are wiped out after the completion of group play, this will be of little concern.

The game kicks off at 8pm eastern time in Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
muchadu
Saturday June 11, 2011 9:06 pm
Wow, what a sad and pathetic first half. Even against a team with the quality Panama has, our offense cant make good passes near the box and finishing quality is still poor. The USMT are in real danger of losing this game if the offense is this feeble. Once again Coach Bradley who brought Freddy Adu to the team has not suited him up for the third straight game!! Nice bringing him all the way from Turkey, just to screw him over. Well now the offense better kick it into high gear or suffer a humiliating loss to Panama. This is what happens when you start defensive players with little of no experience in big games. No Specter, No Onyewu with no DeMerit looks disasterous.
ICEMANofALFRED
Saturday June 11, 2011 2:10 pm
Convincing win against CANADA??? Did we watch the same match... we did beat them but then we really SHOULD beat them here at home and by a damned sight more than two goals. Yes Altidore scored at long last... but that keeper, well if that is the best that the CANADIANS have now, they truly are in trouble. Ream did NOT look as all fired strong as you make him out to be... he is inconsistent and a great potential international, but let's face it he's still pretty raw... as for Gooch, I'm sorry but his time is past, too many injuries even for a player under thirty, Bradley should have called up Michael Parkhurst.

I find it hard to watch these matches because if we win we do qualify for the next Confederations cup... but we continue also to call up players like Kljestan, Bornstein, Adu, etc... and fail to include say Torres, McCarty, Convey, or ANY back to net hold up Striker... say Buddle or Bunbury.

Yes we SHOULD win this match, Hell we should at home be able to win this Tournament, but this is far from the best team we could have...SHOULD have fielded and now that the u-20's are NOT going to a World Cup let Me be the first to PLEAD for a DIFFERENT coach to be placed in charge of our upcoming u-23 OLYMPIC side... Bradley may want the job, but clearly in taking Agudelo away from the u-20's he helped them lose... and that should NOT be rewarded!!!

ICE
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