The Red, White, and Blue overwhelms Panama in Men's Soccer Friendly, 2-0

February 9, 2015

Carson, Calif. -- The United States Men's National Team easily shut out the Red Tide of Panama on Sunday, 2-0, in an international friendly match played in front of 20,271 enthusiastic fans on a sunny Southern California day at the StubHub Center.

Evenly matched at the onset of the game, it wasn’t until the 24th minute that the Red Tide briefly captivated their few, but very vocal loyal fans, when Panama nearly broke away with an opportunity to score on a magnificent heel pass that was intercepted by the tough USA defensive wall.

In the 27th minute, the U.S. answered when American midfielder Michael Bradley took a left side corner kick, and with a supernatural curve, made the ball go right past the gloves of Panamanian team captain and goalkeeper Jaime Penedo for an unassisted goal.

Another superb heel kick pass came in the 33rd minute, but this time from the U.S. team captain and star midfielder Clint Dempsey.  Dempsey surprised the crowd when he beautifully tap-danced his heel pass to teammate Miguel Ibarra, who received the ball unexpectedly and thus could not solidify a play.

However, in the 37th minute, midfielder Gyasi Zardes, a rising star in his own right, stole the ball from Panama in the midfield and ran nearly the entire pitch with a marvelous display of speed, agility, and ball handling, eventually sending a through ball to Dempsey who then finished for the second goal of the match.

Panama responded immediately in the 38th minute, but forward Blas Pérez's poor attempt at goal missed by a large margin wide right.  Pérez had only keeper Nick Rimando to beat.

Just a few minutes later, Jozy Altidore sent a cross to Zardes who chest-trapped the ball and quickly passed to Bradley.  Unfortunately for the U.S., Bradley's laser beam shot at goal was stopped by Penedo, who was positioned at the exact spot to end the American offensive.

At the start of the second half, U.S. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann called on Sean Johnson to replace goalkeeper Nick Rimando, and on forward Chris Wondolowski to substitute for Jozy Altidore.

Wondolowski later put in play a nice cross to center in the 53rd minute, but Dempsey missed a great opportunity, as he was not able to control the ball with his left foot.

Following a yellow card by Panama's Anibal Godoy in the 58th minute, Bradley was given another free kick opportunity.  Although taken from a relatively far distance, Bradley’s kick created a header attempt for Jermaine Jones, but Jones’ try went straight into the hands of Penedo.

Defensively, the U.S. players also made several noteworthy plays, particularly DeAndre Yedlin, who demonstrated superb defensive skill in the 65th minute when his speedy and nimble ability prevented a threatening cross from the Red Tide.

As the final chapter of this match was fast approaching and the U.S. was heading to a certain 2-0 victory, the sea of Red, White, and Blue fans began filling the stadium with chants reminiscent of the sport's various European league fanatics.

With the win, the U.S. improved to 12-1-2 all-time against Panama, including a current six-game win streak.

The U.S. will next face Denmark at 3 p.m. ET on March 25 in Arhus.

Final Thoughts, News, and Notes

  • Michael Bradley was named the Budweiser Man of the Match.
  • Dempsey joins Landon Donovan as the only MNT players to score 40 international goals. 
  • The youth movement under Klinsmann continues.  Perry Kitchen and Matt Hedges made their MNT debuts as second-half subs, and 10 players have now earned their first caps under Jurgen Klinsmann in the seven matches following the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
  • Five of the USA's six shots were placed on goal, while two of Panama's five shots were put on frame.
  • Before the match, a moment of remembrance was held for former 1950 FIFA World Cup goalkeeper Frank Borghi, who passed away last week. The National Soccer Hall of Famer manned the net in the USA's famous 1-0 victory against England in Brazil.
  • In the midfield of the USA's 4-2-3-1, Mix Diskerud and Michael Bradley played in the holding role, with Miguel Ibarra, captain Clint Dempsey, and Gyasi Zardes above them, left to right. Ibarra and Zardes each earned their first MNT starts in just their second appearances.  Striker Jozy Altidore played up front.

By Félix I. Hernández
Contributing Writer for

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