[PANAMA-USA] Coach Jurgen Klinsmannno longer has a losing record thanks to the USA's third straight victory, a 1-0 win at Panama on Wednesday.
EARLY GOAL GETS THE WIN. It’s a good thing the Americans scored early against Panama, because after defender Geoff Cameron was ejected six minutes into the second half they hardly had a sniff of the Canaleros’ goal.
Graham Zusi blasted home from six yards in the 9th minute.
It was only the third time in nine games since Klinsmann took charge that the USA managed a first-half goal.
Zusi, the 25-year-old Sporting Kansas City midfielder, was making his second U.S. appearance after debuting in Saturday’s in a 1-0 win over Venezuela in Phoenix, where Ricardo Clark scored in the seventh minute of second-half stoppage time.
The wins over Venezuela and Panama, combined with a 3-2 victory at Slovenia in the USA’s last game of 2011, gives the USA a three-game win streak and ups Klinsmann’s record since becoming U.S. coach last summer to 4 wins, 4 losses, and 1 tie. The fourth win was 1-0 victory over Honduras in Miami last October.
UNINTENTIONAL ASSIST. Forward Teal Bunbury took “being at the right place at the right time" to a new level when he set up Zusi’s strike. Left back Zach Loyd had sent a cross from midfield into the Panama’s penalty area but Bunbury, tussling with Carlos Rodriguez, had his eyes far off the ball when it hit the back of his leg and bounced to Zusi. It was the only contribution from Bunbury, who also had a frustrating outing against Venezuela.
THE RED CARD. As Blas Perez blazed toward the penalty area for a clear chance to test second-half keeper Sean Johnson, Cameron pushed Perez with his left arm, Perez tumbled, and referee Francisco Chacon promptly pulled out the red card.
After the ejection, a relatively exciting game turned into a bore. The Panamanians, with 39 minutes to exploit a man advantage, sat on their 1-0 deficit, although Perez had a golden chance in the 83rd minute that he shot wide from seven yards.
Panama had been much more dangerous playing 11-v-11 in the first half, when it forced four saves from U.S. keeper Nick Rimando.
NO SUBBING SHEA. Shortly after the red card, Klinsmann pulled forward Chris Wondolowski for defender Jeff Parke. He also made three other substitutions, but kept on the field the struggling Brek Shea – the only player to appear in every U.S. game Klinsmann has coached.
Shea, however, was spent. Within five minutes late in the second half, Shea tripped over his own feet, dribbled the ball out of bounds, and shot feebly on one of the USA’s only second-half chances.
CAPTAIN YELLOW CARD. Jermaine Jones, promoted to captain for two games while on eight-week suspension with his German club Schalke 04, earned his second yellow in two games. (Including club games, that makes it 10 yellows his last 11 games.)
Although Marcos Sanchez posed no danger deep in midfield in the 42nd minute, Jones delivered a flying tackle into Sanchez’s foot.
Jones displayed his more positive side with a 30-yard rocket that goalkeeper Luis Mejia barely got a hand on, and Wondolowski nearly nodded in the rebound with a diving header.
NEXT UP, ITALY. The USA faces Italy in a friendly Feb. 29 – a game that falls on an international fixture day and will allow Klinsmann to bring in his top players – Dempsey, Donovan and Co.
Jan. 25 in Panama City
Panama 0 USA 1. Goal: Zusi 9.
Panama -- Mejia, Rodriguez, Vasquez, Dasent, Algandona, Waithe (Ovalle, 71), Sanchez, Gomez (DeGracia, 90+2), Quintero (Botello, 77), Perez, Renteria (Mosquera, 75).
USA --Rimando (Johnson, 46), DeLaGarza, Cameron, Parkhurst, Loyd (Pearce, 41), Zusi (Evans, 66), Clark (Larentowicz, 66), Jones, Shea, Wondolowski (Parke, 54), Bunbury (Sapong, 76).
Yellow cards: USA -- Loyd 14, Jones 42, DeLaGarza 73. Red card: USA -- Cameron 51.
Referee: Francisco Chacon (Mexico)