On Saturday July 8th, the USMNT faced off in their Gold Cup opener vs Panama in a game that left much to be desired and most definitely more than 1 point.
The men in red, white, and blue led by coach Bruce Arena and captain Alejandro Bedoya trotted out a new side in the first game of the Gold Cup and it showed as the USMNT struggled against Panama throughout the match leading to a 1-1 draw. The second half started off with newcomer Dom Dwyer scoring his second goal in two games off a beautiful play from New England Revs midfielder, Kelyn Rowe. Goalkeeper Brad Guzan stood on his head throughout the match keeping the USMNT in it through waves of Panamanian attacks. Guzan recorded a MOTM effort with a total of 5 saves on the night but was let down in the 60th minute after a barrage of shots finally put the ball in the net for Panama.
Credit: Jason Foster (@JogaBonitoUSA) and Fox
Now for 3 takeaways from Saturday’s match…
1. Kelyn Rowe making a case
Rowe has quietly been the handy man running the New England Revolution engine over the past couple of years and is finally getting his chance now at 25 years old. Rowe has been utilized as a fullback, outside midfielder, winger, center midfielder and more for the Revolution. This versatility has led him to refine his game but it’s clear Bruce Arena sees him as a creator either at the #10 or wing. Rowe showed what he is capable of with the wicked toying of Panama’s Murillo that led to the assist in the USMNT’s only goal on Saturday. Only one game in but Rowe could be well on his way to proving himself in this Gold Cup.
2. Wing Play Lacking
The USMNT came into this Gold Cup camp hopeful to try new faces but it seems evident that there is a lack of pace and true wingers for this team to use. Although Rowe showed greatly in his performance on Saturday, he was poor defending into Panama’s goal in the second half and is more of a #10 or #8 in my opinion. Fans were eager to see newcomer Kenny Saeif get his chance on the wing for the USMNT but had to leave camp due to injury. Now we seem to have forwards like Morris, Agudelo, and Zardes having to play on the wing were they aren’t as effective. Bruce Arena could have used more of a fast on the break kind of winger for the Gold Cup as the winger’s we had didn’t feed Dwyer the ball much leading to his severe lack of involvement in the first half.
3. Who is the next USMNT starting GK?
Brad Guzan has his fair share of haters but this could be the tournament to prove them all wrong and earn a starting spot for Russia 2018. Guzan is coming off a terrible season in the Premier League that saw his team get relegated for the 2nd year in a row. (Aston Villa then Middlesbrough). Now Guzan seems to have the relegation stress off his shoulders and will be able to settle in with Atlanta United after the Gold Cup. Guzan held down the fort for the USMNT with spectacular saves in the game vs Panama and I expect to see much more of the same for the rest of the tournament.