2015 Gold Cup: Three things we learned from the USMNT’s 1-1 draw with Panama

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Another 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup game for the U.S. men’s national team, another extremely labored performance that left the 18,467 spectators in attendance here at Sporting Park wondering, “Can this team really win this tournament?”

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On Monday night, Jurgen Klinsmann’s side came from behind to salvage a 1-1 draw — in a game that mattered none for the USMNT’s standing as Group A winners — with Panama. Here are three key things we learned on the night…

1. It’s time to talk about this Brooks-Alvarado center back partnership…again

There’s about 10 different examples we could point to to show that John Brooks and Ventura Alvarado just aren’t ready to be full-time USMNT starters — particularly in the first half — but we’ll go with Panama’s opening goal because we have the below video handy.

You see that? That’s a dumpster fire personified by two men. Alvarado gets abused by Luis Tejada on the turn (inside the penalty area!!! — just show him out wide and to the end line, please and thanks) and Brooks, watching all this happen from nearby, is two full steps slow getting to the near post as Blas Perez ghosts in behind him and scores the easiest international goal he’ll ever score.

Brooks also lacks the kind of mean streak that Klinsmann has long demanded from his players, which was evident every time Perez — a brilliant bruiser, admittedly — got into his body on balls in the air.This is CONCACAF, and the soccer isn’t always ever pretty. A 22-year-old center back who’s lived his entire life and played his entire career in Germany predictably struggled with that aspect of the game yet again. Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez — a pair of World Cup standouts just last year and battled-hardened CONCACAF veterans — where art thou?

[ MORE GOLD CUP: HAI 1-0 HON | MEX 0-0 GUA | T&T 2-0 CUB | CRC 1-1 SLV ]

2. Building out of the back still not a viable option for USMNT For what it’s worth, it was part-John Brooks, part-Ventura Alvarado and it was even part-Kyle Beckerman tonight, but one variable remains the same in the USMNT’s seeming inability to build out of the back time after time — Klinsmann’s lineup selection and/or tactical instructions.

Herc is right, you guys. I know Klinsmann has this grand idea of how a center back should play out of the back and hit splitting forward passes through two lines to a center forward who’ll hold the ball up, combine with his strike partner and create a goalscoring opportunity from there. That’s a great dream, but it ain’t happening. Not with the players on the current USMNT roster, at least. (Matt Besler has been known to hit a ball like that from time to time, for what it’s worth.)

Instead, Brooks and Alvarado’s aggressive forward passes are consistently cut out by deep-lying midfielders and, in the blink of an eye, the U.S. midfield is suddenly rushing back to cover and the two of them are face with wave after wave of open-field counter attacks coming right at them. For the third time in three games, the USMNT was out-shot (by a pretty wide margin in all three, at that) by vastly inferior teams because of needless counter-attacking chances being gifted to them by irresponsible passing out of the back.

[ MORE: MLS All-Star starters announced, featuring Gerrard and Lampard ]

3. Gyasi Zardes and Clint Dempsey isn’t the worst strike partnership the USMNT has right now

Sure, Dempsey came on at halftime with fully fresh legs against a Panama midfield and defense that had already logged 45 minutes in the 95-degree Kansas City heat and humidity, but the former captain/still-talisman changed the game the moment the second 45 minutes kicked off.

And it wasn’t all down to the fresh legs. Dempsey and Zardes combined brilliantly — and quickly — on a number of occasions, best displayed on Bradley’s equalizer. Watch the below video of the build-up and eventual goal — that’s three passes between Dempsey and Zardes, in extremely tight quarters, over no more than 1.5 seconds.

Dempsey’s final touch, the through ball out wide while lying on his back, rewarded Bedoya for being in a dangerous area of the final third and made possible his pinpoint cross and Bradley’s composed finish.

The chemistry between Dempsey and Jozy Altidore has severely lacked through the group stage, while Dempsey and Zardes were free-flowing and, at times, effortless against Panama. Zardes has been a revelation this calendar year — and even more so this tournament — so the question begs asking: is he ready to start a Gold Cup quarterfinal?

What are the group stage tiebreaker rules at the 2022 World Cup?

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The 2022 World Cup is already well underway and through the first matches of the group stage, the tournament has been marked by unpredictability and upsets, including Saudi Arabia toppling Argentina and Japan edging out Germany thanks to a late comeback. While one loss doesn’t necessarily mean these pre-tournament contenders won’t make it to the knockout rounds, it does make the path significantly harder. Read on to see the World Cup tiebreakers that may come into play in determining which teams advance to the next round and continue on the path to soccer’s greatest glory.

How many teams will advance from the World Cup group stage?

Of the 32 teams at the 2022 World Cup, only 16 will advance to the next round of the tournament. The top two teams in each of the eight groups will advance to the Round of 16. From there, the tournament will be a single-elimination competition, with eight teams making it through to the quarterfinals and four to the semifinals. The winners of the semifinal matches will play in the final, while the losers will meet in the third-place playoff.

RELATED: World Cup 2022 schedule – how to watch, groups, calendar, match schedule, brackets, dates

What are the tiebreakers for the group stage at the World Cup?

If two or more teams have an equal number of points after the conclusion of group stage matches, FIFA will use the following tiebreakers to determine which nations advance:

  • Goal differential – the team with the higher goal differential (total goals scored minus total goals allowed) will have the higher ranking
  • Number of goals scored – If multiple teams have the same number of points and equal goal differential, the team with more goals scored will be given a higher ranking than the lesser-scoring team

World Cup draw rules

If two or more teams are still “tied” after applying these tiebreakers, FIFA moves on to a second round of tiebreakers:

  • Greatest number of points obtained in group matches between the teams concerned
  • Superior goal difference resulting from the group matches between the team concerned
  • Greatest number of goals scored in all matches between the teams concerned
  • Highest team conduct score – team conduct score is based on the number of yellow and red cards a team has obtained. The team with the highest team conduct score will receive the higher ranking.
    • Yellow Card: Minus one point
    • Indirect Red Card (acquired via two yellow cards): Minus three points
    • Direct Red Card: Minus four points
    • Yellow Card and Direct Red Card: Minus five points

RELATED: PST’s 2022 World Cup predictions: Standings, winner, awards, USMNT fate

World Cup yellow card rules

The “team conduct” tiebreaker or “fair play” tiebreaker was first used at the 2018 World Cup – Japan and Senegal stood equal after all other tiebreakers were applied but Senegal had more yellow cards and was subsequently eliminated. Japan advanced to the Round of 16.

World Cup 2022 schedule, start time, dates, how to watch live

  • When: November 20, 2022 to December 18, 2022
  • Group stage game kick-off times: 5am, 8am, 10am, 11am, 2pm (all ET)
  • Location: Qatar
  • TV channels en Español: Telemundo, Universo, Peacock
  • Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)

Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D | Group E | Group F | Group G | Group H

Follow along with ProSoccerTalk for the latest news, scores, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 World Cup, and be sure to subscribe to NBC Sports on YouTube!

Poland vs Argentina, live! Score, updates, how to watch, stream, videos

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Poland and Argentina surely didn’t plan to reach the marquee match of World Cup Group C with their knockout round status in doubt, but it’s been that kind of tournament in Qatar.

Poland remains unbeaten in Qatar after beating Saudi Arabia 2-0 in Al Rayyan, adding to the point it earned from a scoreless draw with Mexico In Doha to give it top billing in the group heading into Wednesday’s match.

STREAM LIVE POLAND v ARGENTINA

Argentina, meanwhile, rebounded from a 2-1 tournament-opening loss to Saudi Arabia In Lusail to bear Mexico 2-0 behind a goal and an assist from Lionel Messi.

Saudi Arabia’s three points means it can still advance with a win over Mexico, who itself can add to its one point. So everyone’s alive in Group C.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub

Here is everything you need for Poland vs Argentina.


How to watch Poland vs Argentina live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Wednesday, Nov. 30
Stadium: Stadium 974, Doha – 2pm
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

The storyline for every Argentina game this tournament from this point forward — and really since the lead-up to the Mexico match — is that any loss means the end of Lionel Messi’s World Cup career (at least according to the living legend). The Albiceleste would be thrilled to get something more out of Lautaro Martinez, while Paulo Dybala’s yet to make his tournament debut.

Robert Lewandowski finally has a World Cup goal on his resume, while Piotr Zielinski has been very good for Poland. Former Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was sensational in the win over Saudi Arabia.


Poland quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 26
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 8
How they qualified: Qualified from UEFA via playoffs, Path B
Coach: Czeslaw Michniewicz
Key players: Robert Lewandowski, Wojciech Szczesny, Piotr Zielinski

Argentina quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 3
World Cup titles: 2 (1978, 1986)
World Cup appearances: 17
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONMEBOL (2nd place)
Coach: Lionel Scaloni
Key players: Lionel Messi, Angel de Maria, Lautaro Martinez

Saudi Arabia vs Mexico, live! Score, updates, how to watch, stream, videos

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Mexico needs a win to have hope of reaching the World Cup knockout rounds, while Saudi Arabia’s hopes of the final 16 may require the same at Stadium 974 in Doha on Wednesday.

The Saudis stunned Argentina 2-1 In Lusail to open the tournament but could not repeat the feat against Poland at Education City in Al Rayyan on Saturday to leave themselves with three points through two matches.

STREAM LIVE SAUDI ARABIA vs MEXICO

Mexico remains without a win after their scoreless draw versus Poland led to a Lionel Messi-inspired loss to Argentina In Lusail.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub

Here is everything you need for Saudi Arabia vs Mexico.


How to watch Saudi Arabia vs Mexico live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Wednesday Nov. 30
Stadium: Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

The Saudis have arguably been the most fun team at the tournament amongst non-powers, always running and getting exceptional goalkeeping. Salem Al-Dawsari was very good in both games but his missed penalty before halftime against Poland looms large of a match that could’ve been 1-1 going to the break and instead ended 2-0.

Mexico has not scored at the tournament so far, and Raul Jimenez has only been used as a super sub. Hirving Lozano and Alexis Vega combined for just three shot attempts before being subbed out of the Poland loss, while Lozano and Henry Martin combined for two versus Poland (Vega attempted five). They need better up top to keep up their streak of making Round of 16 appearances at the World Cup.


Saudi Arabia quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 51
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 5
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from AFC (Won Group B)
Coach: Herve Renard
Key players: Salem Al-Dawsari, Fahad Al-Muwallad, Mohammed Al-Owais

Mexico quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 13
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 16
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONCACAF (2nd place)
Coach: Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino
Key players: Guillermo Ochoa, Hector Herrera, Raul Jimenez

Berhalter ‘proud’ of USMNT, looks ahead to Netherlands; Pulisic injury update

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USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter was a relieved man as he spoke to media after the USA beat Iran 1-0 to clinch a spot in the last 16 of the World Cup.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

After Christian Pulisic’s first half goal the U.S. held on late on as Iran create three good chances but the young American side dug deep.

They will now face the Netherlands in the last 16 on Saturday (kick off, 10am ET) and Berhalter was asked how proud he was of his side.

USA grind out win after impressive display

“Proud. First half we showed what we can do soccer wise. Second half we showed what we could do determination wise. The guys grinded. They gave every single ounce of energy. We are undefeated going into the knockout round,” Berhalter said.

He was then asked about his nerves late on as Iran almost scored in the 99th minute when Mehdi Taremi nearly got on the end of a ball into the box.

“This new injury time, counting every second, it is stressful. I think I have less hair on my head now,” Berhalter smiled. “We will take it and we will move on and we will go battle Holland.”

Christian Pulisic injury update

Pulisic, the goalscoring hero, was subbed out at half time after getting hit in the abdominal area (it looked like a nasty whack to the groin) when he scored the winning goal.

Asked about the status of the USMNT and Chelsea star, here is what Berhalter had to say.

“No update on his status but I’ve been saying all along, ‘it’s a wonderful thing when one of your best players is also one of your hardest working.’ He is certainly that. I can’t say enough positive things about Christian.”

Another update was that Pulisic was taken to the hospital after the injury and Weston McKennie said he had a message from Pulisic saying: “Best believe I’ll be ready on Saturday.”

“He was feeling some dizziness, it was a blow to his abdomen,” Berhalter said. “We FaceTimed him from the hospital and he was in good spirits.”