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Gold Cup 2011: Panama Shocks USA With Two First Half Goals

Panama is halfway to the upset of the tournament as they take a 2-0 halftime lead over the USA into the locker room at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Panama has played a nearly perfect bunker down/counter attack system that has stifled the United States on one end and produced good scoring chances on the other.

The United States have enjoyed most of the possession, Panama has routinely kept 11 men behind the ball, denying the US much meaningful possession in the offensive half. When the US does try to play a ball in, Panamanian defenders have done a fantastic job intercepting passe and then throwing men forward to help create good scoring chances.

The first Panama goal came moments after a free kick bounced off the US wall to midfielder Gabriel Gomez, who played a laser pass into the fullback Dasent, who had a diving header saved by Tim Howard, but striker Luis Tejada knocked in the rebound for the opening goal.

The second goal came as Panama once again had everyone back defending, intercepted a US pass and poured men forward in the counterattack. This team, young New York Red Bulls defender Tim Ream made an absolutely inexcusable play in the box, bringing down the Panamanian striker Perez for a penalty. The ball was bouncing out of the box, there was another US defender in the area and yet Ream swung a wild kick, hoping for a clearance that instead hit Perez, earning a clear penalty. Gomez fired it home to extend Panama’s lead to 2-0.

With Canada’s win earlier, the US are in a very precarious position. Panama and Canada are now even on points with the US and will play each other on Tuesday. With Panama in full control now, the US could find themselves tied for second in the group, needing not only a win against Guadeloupe, but one where they score a number of goals.

The US has never lost a group stage game in the Gold Cup. They’ll need quite a comeback in the second half to maintain that streak.