USA vs. Panama, 2014 World Cup qualifying: Final score 2-0, USMNT excellent in easy win

Greg Fiume

The United States are on top of the Hex following their impressive victory over Panama on Tuesday night.

It was apparent from the opening whistle that the United States intended on putting Panama under pressure and committing bodies forward, early and often. With Eddie Johnson in the starting lineup for the suspended Graham Zusi, the U.S. were much faster and more direct than usual, and that style of play paid off quickly.

The U.S. had a couple of solid early chances, with Fabian Johnson missing high on a shot in the 3rd minute, and Clint Dempsey doing the same in the 7th minute. Michael Bradley nearly scored in the 22nd minute when he appeared to have Jaime Penedo beat with a low shot, but Dempsey blocked it accidentally.

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Jozy Altidore went down in the penalty box in the 34th minute, seemingly under the challenge of a Panamanian defender, but the referee saw nothing in it and waved play on. Altidore wasn't happy about the no-call, but it was quickly forgotten when Altidore netted the USMNT opener just two minutes later.

Panama played defensively in the first half, allowing the U.S. to have possession, so the Americans' counter-attack to setup the goal was a bit of a rare one. Bradley did the bulk of the work, beating a pair of Panamanian defenders with an impressive dribbling move through the center before he sprayed the ball wide for Fabian Johnson. The United States' left midfielder crossed early to the back post for a waiting Altidore, who had made a brilliant run and was in the perfect spot to apply an easy finish.

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The United States went into the halftime break up 1-0 and kept the pressure on Panama to start the second half, pushing hard for a second goal. It didn't take them long to find it, and once again, it came through rather fast and direct means instead of through a slow build-up.

Geoff Cameron, who filled in for Jermaine Jones on the night, found fellow newly inserted starter Eddie Johnson for the second USMNT goal. From the halfway line, Cameron picked out a long ball for Johnson, who timed his run perfectly. He cut in from the right wing, took a great first touch, then placed a left-footed shot into the back of the net at the far post from 15 yards.

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Not satisfied with two goals, the United States continued to push forward and were unlucky to hit the woodwork on a couple of occasions. First came a strike off the crossbar by Dempsey on a volley into the ground, which came following a save on an Altidore shot by Penedo.

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DaMarcus Beasley had similar luck in the 79th minute at the end of an absolutely beautiful team move by the United States. Bradley started it with a great switch to Fabian Johnson, who laid the ball back to Altidore. He found Beasley with a through ball, but the American left back could only strike the post.

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With the game wrapped up late, Klinsmann opted to give curtain calls to Jozy Altidore, as well as Eddie and Fabian Johnson, while giving run-outs to Joe Corona, Brad Davis and Stuart Holden. However, Klinsmann couldn't get all of his players off who were carrying yellow cards. Beasley picked one up late, and will be suspended against Honduras.

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