26 January, 2012

Sporting KC 1, Panama 0

Last night, I was at work and I missed the USA at Panama match on Galavision from Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City. Too bad, it would have been my first look at lots of young USMNT prospects making their debut with the senior NT. The starting lineup was Nick Rimando in goal, AJ De La Garza, Michael Parkhurst, Geoff Cameron, and Zach Loyd in the back, Ricardo Clark and Jermaine Jones in the central midfield, Graham Zusi and Brek Shea on the wings, and Chris Wondolowski and Teal Bunbury up top.

In the 9th minute, Teal Bunbury sent a cross from the left to right wing Graham Zusi, his teammate at Sporting KC, and Zusi scored in his second cap, his first coming against Venezuela on Saturday. Nick Rimando was impressive for the rest of the first half, and Chris Wondolowski got a strong header on a hard shot by Jermaine Jones, deflected into the air by Panamanian keeper Luis Mejia. But Mejia made a spectacular diving save to deny Wondo's chance.

Just before halftime, Heath Pearce replaced Zach Loyd (who was cautioned early) at left back, and at the break, young Chicago Fire superstar Sean Johnson replaced Rimando in goal. Then Geoff Cameron pulled down Panama's superstar Blas Perez (now with FC Dallas) in the 52nd minute and received a deserved straight red card for fouling on a breakaway. However, despite the man advantage, Panama had no other legitimate scoring chances until Blas Perez shot wide in the closing minutes.

Jeff Parke, Brad Evans, Jeff Larentowicz, and CJ Sapong got significant playing time in the second half, replacing Wondolowski, Zusi, Clark, and Bunbury, respectively, in that order. Some of you may recall I've been a fan of Graham Zusi since he led the University of Maryland to the 2008 NCAA title with the game's only goal in both the semifinal and the final. I would really like to have seen CJ Sapong make his second appearance as a sub for the USMNT, his first coming on Saturday, but maybe I'll just have to watch more Sporting KC games to see the trio of Zusi, Sapong, and Bunbury on the field together.

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