|Clarence Goodson was stalwart.|
Once again with their backs against the wall, the United States down Panama 1-0 on a brilliant team goal finished by Clint Dempsey. The Americans now move on to the Gold Cup final where they will face archrivals Mexico.
Bob Bradley has a tough job, and it’s a job most fans either love him or hate him for. Questionable decisions are something he’s been blasted for before, but on this night, his tactics stood strong.
After falling to Panama in the group stage, changes were in order. In the semi-final Bradley rolled out a 4-5-1 disguised in a 4-2-3-1. This formation best suited the American player skill-sets, thus giving the US the best chance of victory.
The United States started off the game well, with a 4-5-1 and Juan Agudelo up top. Agudelo was active and impressive throughout his 66 minutes of play. Agudelo’s willingness to take people on was evident and allowed the midfield to move up and aid in the attack. Despite playing well, the score was deadlocked at halftime.
Interestingly though, it was not Donovan’s arrival to the game that changed things, it was Freddy Adu’s arrival. Read it again, Freddy Adu. Adu came on in the 66th minute for Juan Agudelo, causing almost an entire nation of US Soccer fans to scratch their heads. Well score one for Bob Bradley as both of his substitutions factored in the goal.
Adu received the ball in the US’s defensive end and curled a left-footed ball over thirty yards to find Landon Donovan streaking down the right flank. The LA Galaxy midfielder collected the ball and played an inch perfect ball across Panama’s net to find a sliding Clint Dempsey. It started with Adu’s brilliant pass. Welcome back Freddy. It was a brilliant team goal that for one moment reminded American fans just how talented the group can be when they are in the zone… now we just need that consistently.
Alejandro Bedoya, who has featured in every game despite not being initially called up, played the entire match and was active on both sides of the ball. Several of his crosses and passes would have panned into assists if not from poor finishing or impressive defending from Panama.
With the United States winning 1-0 they booked a ticket to the final against Mexico. A dream matchup for advertisers which likely allowed the CONCACAF planners to breathe a sigh of relief… USA fans though will likely have some concerns as they’ve witnessed their team provide unconvincing performances throughout the entire Gold Cup.
Look forward to another match with plenty of talking points regardless.