BRIAN SCIARETTA - Wednesday, January 25, 2012
In a dull and lifeless game in Panama City, the United States narrowly defeated Panama on Wednesday night for their third straight win under head coach Jurgen Klinsmann
The win concluded the annual January camp which is held mostly for players based in Scandinavia and MLS. This year's team also was joined by Jermaine Jones who is serving an eight week suspension at Schalke and Ricardo Clark who has fallen out of favor with Eintracht Frankfurt.
The US defeated Venezuela 1-0 on Saturday night in Arizona when Clark scored in the seventh minute of injury time in the second half.
The United States got on the board in the 8th minute when left back Zach Loyd sent in a cross that flicked on by Chris Wondolowski and then hit Teal Bunbury close to the goal. The ball then rolled out and found a wide open Graham Zusi who buried the shot from close range for a 1-0 lead.
For Zusi, it was his first ever goal for the US national team after he earned his first cap on Saturday against Venezuela.
In the 26th minute Panama nearly equalized when Luis Renteria got behind the US defense and hit a hard shot that US goalkeeper Nick Rimando initially saved. The ball, however, bounced past Rimando and continued towards goal. Rimando was able to then dive behind him and push the ball away from the net.
In the 31st minute the United States should have scored again when Jermaine Jones hit a spectacular long distance shot that was saved by Panama's goalkeeper Luis Mejia. The rebound however came right out to Chris Wondolowski who shot off a header forced a second fantastic save by Mejia from close range.
In the second half the Panama gained a man advantage when Panamanian captain Blas Perez got behind the US defense again. Central defender Geoff Cameron caught up to Perez but was called for a foul right outside the box. Being that there were no other defenders between Perez and the US goal, Cameron was shown a red card and the US was down to 10 men.
In the 77th minute, Perez missed another very good chance to get Panama on the board when his header beat US goalkeeper Sean Johnson but missed the left post by inches.
In the 88th minute, Perez missed yet again on the best opportunity Panama had all night. On the play Panama sent a ball into the box and US central defender Jeff Parke collided with Rolando Botello. The ball bounced out to Perez who missed an open net from just 7 yards away.
The United States managed to hang on for the win despite being down a man for almost the entire second half.
Next up for the United States is trip to Genoa to take on Italy. That game will fall on a FIFA international date and all of the top players will be available.