An awful first half gave way to an entertaining second half, and the USMNT split points with Panama on Monday in the Group A finale of the 2015 Gold Cup.
Blas Perez of FC Dallas put the Panamanians up early, but Michael Bradley restored the deadlock early in the second half.
The Yanks had already won Group A, but Panama needed a win and only got a point. They’ll finish in third and have to hope results break their way to advance into the knockout rounds.
Two of three third-place teams advance to the quarterfinals.
[ GOLD CUP: Haiti 1-0 Honduras ]
Panama played well and with desperation early, and Tejada slotted home off a free kick only to see the goal called back for offside.
Ale Bedoya raced in from the right to pick up a laid-off ball from Chris Wondolowski, but was stymied by Jaime Penedo. On the counter, John Brooks picked up a yellow card and will miss the next match.
Michael Bradley let fly with a torrid, knuckling ball moments later, and Penedo had to dive to push the hard shot out… for a throw. Yeah, he hit it that hard.
The key man in the 22nd minute was Brad Guzan, who stopped a potential own goal from Alfredo Morales off a corner, and then the rebound.
Perez gave Panama the goal that was coming when a just offside — but uncalled — Tejada turned Ventura Alvarado and John Brooks lost his mark. It was 1-0 Panama in the 34th minute.
Harold Cummings fouled Bedoya on a breakaway run after a headed pass from Wondolowski, and there was no foul given. The incident happened just outside the 18, looked intentional, and could’ve been a PK.
Jurgen Klinsmann brought on DeAndre Yedlin and Clint Dempsey at halftime for Alfredo Morales and Chris Wondolowski.
Fortunately for the U.S. and a boisterous crowd in Kansas City, the General was on the scene. Bedoya played a picture-perfect short pass to the doorstep, and Bradley fired it past a helpless Penedo. 1-1, 55′.
The game picked up in tempo, and went end-to-end as a devil-may-care U.S. side met an urgent Panama side in energy. Guzan made a huge stop in the 75th, and Beckerman tore a shot wide two minute later.
The States had the better of the match’s chances down the stretch, including a late Dempsey free kick, to no avail.
Saturday is the next match for the States, and they’ll take on the third place team from Group B or C. Mexico and Jamaica advance to the knockout rounds thanks to this result.
USMNT: Guzan; Johnson, Brooks, Alvarado, Chandler; Beckerman, Morales (Yedlin, HT), Bradley, Bedoya (Johannsson, 71′); Zardes, Wondolowski (Dempsey, HT)
Goal: Bradley (55′)