Monday, October 23, 2017

Panama 1 United States 1: Dempsey nets in hard-fought draw

SoccerNews in World Cup 29 Mar 2017

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Clint Dempsey scored again but the United States were held to a 1-1 draw by Panama in World Cup qualifying on Tuesday.

Dempsey’s 56th international goal moved him to within one of Landon Donovan’s all-time record for USA, opening the scoring after again combining with Christian Pulisic.

However, Panama equalised through Gabriel Gomez just before the break at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez Gutierrez.

They looked the more likely to find a winner but USA held on for a point, leaving them with just one victory from four qualifiers in the final round in CONCACAF.

Panama, who are third, remain a point clear of USA, although Bruce Arena’s men did climb a spot into fourth.

The hosts made three changes to the team beaten by Trinidad and Tobago as Gomez, Luis Tejada and Gabriel Torres replaced Amilcar Henriquez, Edgar Barcenas and Abdiel Arroyo.

Having hammered Honduras 6-0 last time out, USA also made three changes, Jermaine Jones returning from suspension to replace the injured Sebastian Lletget, while Tim Ream and Graham Zusi came in for Geoff Cameron and John Brooks.

Panama looked content to try and play on the break in the early stages and they were lively, albeit they struggled to create clear-cut chances.

They went close in the 16th minute, but Felipe Baloy was unable to keep his close-range header down.

Just before the half-hour and Pulisic – who starred against Honduras – threatened, only for a last-ditch Luis Ovalle tackle to deny him.

The chances started to flow as Tim Howard was forced into a strong save by Alberto Quintero, whose effort was straight at the USA goalkeeper.

Somewhat against the run of play, the visitors went ahead through Dempsey in the 39th minute.

It was again Pulisic doing the lead-up work, twisting on the right side of the area before a simple pass allowed Dempsey – fresh from a hat-trick against Honduras – to score from close range.

GOOOOOOAAL! @cpulisic_10 with some fancy footwork in the box to set up @clint_dempsey for the strike! The #USMNT lead Panama, 1-0! pic.twitter.com/SAlM6Hp4fE
— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) March 29, 2017

However, Panama drew level in the 43rd minute.

A long throw-in fell to Gomez in the area and the midfielder gave Howard no chance with a powerful finish.

The game opened up in the second half and Panama looked dangerous, Howard needing to get down low to keep out Tejada just before the hour-mark.

Despite Panama continuing to push for a winner, USA held firm to leave with a point.

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