January 25, 2012
Second-tier U.S. lineup edges Panama, 1-0
PANAMA CITY, PanamaóGraham Zusiís first international goal was all an MLS-heavy U.S. Menís National Team needed to get past Panama 1-0 Wednesday night at Estadio Rommel Fernandez.
Zusi, who earned his first cap with Wednesdayís match, was in the right place at the right time to beat goalkeeper Ricardo Mejia one-on-one from close range in the ninth minute for the only goal of the game. The ball was served into the box from high on the left side for Teal Bunbury, who drew the lone defender toward the near post before dishing the ball off to the unmarked Zusi, who was alone on the far side of the six-yard box. Mejia charged off his line to try and make a play, but Zusiís shot went under him and into the net.
The USAís best chance to double their lead came in the 31st minute, when Mejia parried a rocket shot by Jermaine Jones straight up and back into play. Chris Wondolowski crashed the far post for the rebound, but his close-in header hit the post.
Although they were otherwise unspectacular on offense, the U.S. played a solid and composed possession game, even after Geoff Cameron was ejected in the 52nd minute after catching Blas Perez on the back foot and sending him tumbling into the penalty area. Nevertheless, U.S. goalkeepers Nick Rimando and Sean Johnson both endured a few heartstopping moments on their way to the win.
Rimando posted his first save in the fourth minute, on a soft shot by Amir Waithe, but faced a much stiffer challenge in a one-on-one challenge from Luis Renteria in the 25th. Renteriaís initial shot got past the U.S. Ďkeeper, but Rimando was able to recover and sweep the ball away from the net and out for a corner kick. Shortly after the half-hour mark, Rimando was caught down and outside the penalty area, but Panama failed to capitalize.
Johnson held fast though the second half, aided by a little poor finishing on Panamaís part. Perezís free kick following Cameronís ejection deflected off one of his teammates in the wall and over the net. In the 77th minute, Perez outjumped two U.S. defenders and got off a cracking header that bounced just wide of the left post. Perez did get a shot through to Johnson, who made the save in the 80th minute, but failed to take advantage of a golden opportunity to equalize in the 86th, when he got the ball during a scramble outside the six-yard box and swept his shot wide left.
The win was the USAís third straight under coach Jurgen Klinsmann.