The United States men’s national team was set up to fail in Panama City, and few players did anything but follow along in a 1-0 loss to Panama in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying on Sunday.
Gregg Berhalter’s much-changed USMNT left Tyler Adams, Sergino Dest, and Miles Robinson on the bench and Weston McKennie, Christian Pulisic, Zack Steffen, Antonee Robinson, and Giovanni Reyna at home (or in Europe).
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It did not go well, and Panama beat a punchless and naive USMNT in a World Cup qualifier for the first time in the history of this CONCACAF rivalry.
The USMNT was fortunate to be level at the break as Panama was opportunistic and took advantage of several American mix-ups in midfield and at the back.
The attack wasn’t bad in the sense that it was non-existent, and by the time Berhalter made changes it was woefully apparent the tactics was as poor as the personnel.
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He tried a similar fix to what worked in Honduras and it did not work in Panama City, giving Panama its first World Cup qualifying win over the Yanks.
Here’s a look at who stood out (for better or for worse) for Gregg Berhalter’s side, with some special bonus commentary (of the dissenting variety) from PST’s Andy Edwards (italicized)…
USMNT player ratings versus Panama
GK – Matt Turner: 5.5 – Couldn’t do anything on the goal and had a terrific save in the first half but looked quite shaky dealing with first-half corner kicks.
Turner – 6 – He was asked to make four saves, and he made three. The goalkeeper can’t cover the front and back posts on set pieces.
LB – George Bello: 4 – Turned inside out on several occasions and pressed like a 19-year-old normally does in a bad situation.
CB – Walker Zimmerman: 6 – The USMNT’s Man of the Match, not that that means much on a night like Sunday.
Zimmerman – 5.5 – Is he the No. 1 center back in the player pool right now? His partnership with McKenzie didn’t appear as polished as Zimmerman-Miles Robinson on Thursday, but they were anything but a worry.
CB – Mark McKenzie: 4.5 – Center back depth appears slimmer than ever with John Brooks struggling and hurt and Miles Robinson… rested?
RB – Shaq Moore (Off 67′): 5 – Allowed a bit too much room to crossers a few times, but wasn’t abject.
CM – Kellyn Acosta: 4 – Set up to fail and struggled to boot. This is a guy that you want surging forward and playing the role of menace with Weston McKennie out, not trying to be a very poor man’s Tyler Adams.
CM – Sebastian Lletget: 3.5 – His worst performance in a USMNT shirt? Seems so.
Panama take the lead over the USMNT 😳 pic.twitter.com/tMsgTaqXTI
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) October 10, 2021
CM – Yunus Musah (Off HT): 5 — So casual in the middle of the park. This isn’t playing out wide, which Musah does at Valencia, where you can take more chances in possession.
RW – Timothy Weah (Off 67′): 4.5 – Such was the state of the left side of the team that it’s difficult to remember more than 2-3 moments in the game that he was involved in the play.
LW – Paul Arriola (Off HT): 4.5 — Ran hard but either his touch or decision-making betrayed him often.
CF – Gyasi Zardes (Off 67′): 4.5 – If Panama’s goal isn’t his own goal, he didn’t help his keeper at all with his attempt to turn the corner kick away from the box.
Tyler Adams (On HT): 6 — No surprise the team improved when he was introduced, but he certainly couldn’t fiz everything himself.
Brenden Aaronson (On HT): 5.5 — Energetic but trying to do too much himself (again, set up to fail).
Ricardo Pepi (On 67′): 5.5 — Center forward a black hole not in production but in that it seemed the Yanks didn’t know where it was.
Cristian Roldan (On 67′): 5.5 — Not the reason they lost.
DeAndre Yedlin (On 67′): 5 — See above.