Two of the USA’s most important players scored the goals by which the Americans regained some momentum by beating Panama, 2-0.
Michael Bradley scored his 13th national-team goal from a corner kick and Clint Dempsey joined Landon Donovan in the 40-goal club by tacking on a second goal before halftime. The Americans avoided the second-half collapses that had marred their play the last few months to post their first shutout since beating the Czech Republic, 1-0, five months ago.
USA Player Ratings:
6 Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake) 18/0.
Short-hopped a pass to Besler that put his teammate under pressure but otherwise handled his responsibilities handily. Charged out to block a point-blank shot from Eric Davis with the score 0-0.
5 DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham/ENG) 12/0.
More of the same: lax tactical awareness, slow to react to balls played behind him, beaten in the air guarding the back post and needed Rimando to rescue him; competent and confident moving forward. He worked some effective combinations up the right side with Zardes and a good cross early in the second half provided Dempsey with a chance.
6 Jermaine Jones (New England Revolution) 50/3.
Outfoxed by Rolando Blackburn in tight spaces but managed to defuse those situations. Used the ball wisely and twice pushed out of the back line to put Panama’s defense under pressure. He hit a great ball up the left wing that sparked a good cross and nailed a header from a Bradley free kick right to keeper Jaime Penedo.
6 Matt Besler (Sporting KC) 25/0.
He had to battle Blas Perez and used his guile and quickness to frustrate the Panamanian striker. He exploited a lack of pressure to use his touches and passes smartly and a few times slid outside to let Shea get forward.
5 Brek Shea (Orlando City) 29/3.
Thwarted Panama by blocking a Blackburn shot after scuffing a pair of early crosses while struggling defensively. Ran on to a ball from Jones and delivered an excellent serve to the back post that Wondolowski scuffed. Fitness didn’t seem to be an issue as he powered through the full 90 minutes.
6 Mix Diskerud (New York City) 27/5.
He looked a bit lost in the opening minutes as he and Bradley sorted out their roles and positions, then did a solid job screening the back line and playing short, accurate passes. He pushed up higher occasionally to take on opponents in the attacking third and keep Panama under pressure.
7 Michael Bradley (Toronto FC) 93/13.
Looked dangerous serving balls into the box from run of play and set pieces. In the first half alone from the left side he lofted two excellent crosses and scored an "Olimpico," and by surging through the middle hit two first-time shots right to the keeper. Free kick in the second half dropped perfectly for Jones darting through the center.
5 Miguel Ibarra (Minnesota United) 2/0.
Improved after a nervy start and covered a lot of ground. First-half giveaways weren’t costly though a missed tackle led to the cross and shot that forced Rimando’s big save. He got more involved offensively as Panama wilted in the second half.
6 Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders) 112/40.
A typically clinical finish doubled the U.S. lead. He ran onto a Zardes through ball to round Penedo and poke the ball into the net. He reached a far-post ball from Yedlin but couldn’t get a good shot. He jawed with Luis Ovalle several times and took a fierce shove that somehow didn’t draw a caution.
7 Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy) 2/0.
He started at right mid, switched to left mid, and also surged through the middle to slip a great through ball that Dempsey clipped into the net. His sharp dribbles and clever touches opened up spaces Panama scrambled to cover and drew several fouls. His chested ball into the path of Bradley oozed with class.
6 Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC) 78/26.
Active and busy throughout the attacking third and helped Bradley score his corner-kick goal by tangling with Blackburn at the far post. (Nobody bought his claim that he touched it on the way in.) Drove a ball from the left flank that Zardes chested down for Bradley and once the U.S. went ahead he squelched a lot of Panama’s play out of the back.
4 Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes) 27/9.
Scuffed a great chance shortly after coming on, battled all the way and tormented Panama’s defenders, especially Leonel Parris.
5 Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire) 5/0.
Probably the quietest 45 minutes of his pro career.
5 Matt Hedges (FC Dallas) 1/0.
He came in for Yedlin at right back and hit an array of clean, accurate passes.
5 Perry Kitchen
(D. C. United) 1/0.
Got a short run in central midfield to earn first cap.
5 Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution) 6/0.
Picked his way through challengers a few times and though he didn’t threaten the goal he used his touches well.
NR Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake) 2/0.