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USMNT v. Panama: At least now we know we can beat...Panama

I'd be remiss if I didn't offer a few words on Sunday's U.S. Men's National Team friendly against Panama, in which the U.S. defeated the Canalmen 2-0. Granted it's Wednesday and anyone who cares has already read enough about it that they don't have to read this sorry excuse for an analysis blog...but I digress. If you didn't manage to see the game, here are some bullet points:

Gyasi Zardes advertising Herbalife and hair dye.

  • U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley scored off a rare "Olimpico" goal in the 27th minute; an Olimpico is when a player scores directly from a corner kick, curling the ball into the goal without the assistance of any of his players.
  • Clint Dempsey scored ten minutes later off a break-away goal from a link up pass by USMNT newcomer Gyasi Zardes, though it looked like Dempsey came perilously close to flubbing it. 
  • Speaking of flubbs...most of the rest of the game the USMNT looked like donkeys in front of the goal (I'm looking at you Wondolowski); like they couldn't even kick the ball across the by-line let alone through the goal. It was cringe-inducing.
  • Gyasi Zardes was the story of the game. In addition to providing the assist for Dempsey, he had a stellar game in the midfield. Even moreso than Bradley, Zardes seemed to be moving the ball up-field for the forwards, slowing the ball down and providing the much needed link in the chain so that the forwards can get shots on goal. This guy's a force in only his second appearance with USMNT? We'll be hearing more from him.
  • Otherwise, we were mostly playing "get the ball and kick it really hard up the field and hope the forwards can get to it" soccer. And it worked most of the time, because the Panamanians couldn't finish a box of doughnuts and were too busy shoving and flopping and dance-fighting to make any serious threats. 
  • There's still 3.5 years until the next world cup. But as this was only our second international win in 10 games (remember Ghana, way back in June? Yeah.) and it came against a team ranked 55th in the world, it does very little to inspire confidence that we're on track to make a better run at the trophy than we did this summer. 

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