In what was a more chippy game than expected for an off-season friendly, the United States left the StubHub Center a 2-0 victor over Panama on Sunday in front of 20,271 supporters.
Most importantly for Sounders fans, a healthy Clint Dempsey scored and was subbed out in the 80th minute for Luis Gil. His goal came the 37th minute, nicely rounding the goalkeeper:
CLINT DEMPSEY https://t.co/ge6SFNARB4— Jose Rivera (@Jose8BS) February 8, 2015
The news was not as good for DeAndre Yedlin, who was limping and subbed out in the 72nd minute. Matt Hedges earned his first USMNT cap with the sub but Yedlin immediately was shown limping down the tunnel to the locker room. He was moving under his own power, but very gingerly.
Michael Bradley opened the scoring at the 27 minute mark with the first Olimpico in USMNT history. That's right, he scored directly off a corner kick on Jaime Penedo. The LA Galaxy netminder was making his 100th appearance for Panama. Considering that Bradley almost scored an Olimpico five minutes earlier, it was apparently part of the game plan to put bodies in front of the Galaxy keeper.
Chris Wondolowski was a halftime substitute for Jozy Altidore. Altidore was reported to have a slightly sore hamstring and was subbed off for precautionary reasons. Altidore and Bradley will presumably head back to Toronto for MLS preseason training where the high for Monday is predicted to be 21 Fahrenheit (Minus 6 Celsius). Wondolowski had a horrible miss while open on the back post late in the game with a chance to make it 3-0. There were comparison's made to another famous Wondolowski USMNT miss. This miss was a much easier chance, but much less important.
The talking points before the match included many references to USMNT Manager and Technical Director Jurgen Klinsmann's continued insistence on focusing the blame for the recent run of bad form by the team on fitness. These posters made it to the pregame buzz on social media:
Saw these banners being put up at the #USMNT game. Wonder how long they'll last. pic.twitter.com/tKSEWHrrhu— Alicia Rodriguez (@soccermusings) February 8, 2015
Overall fitness did not seem to be an issue and the USMNT looked to be much more comfortable in the familiar 4-2-3-1 setup as opposed to the 3-5-2 that was experimented with against Chile. It is worth noting that Blas Perez is in mid-season agitator form and was a major part of the chippiness alluded to in the opening paragraph. Perez was subbed out in the 56th minute somehow without a yellow card.
The only other home friendly scheduled for the USMNT before the Gold Cup kicks off on July 7th is in San Antonio at the Alamodome on April 15th against Mexico. Expect another MLS centric squad in that game as Tax Day is not a FIFA date.