After 45 minutes at Soldier Field in Chicago, the United States and Panama remain scoreless at the halftime break. Despite having a ridiculous possession advantage, the USA were unable to break open Panama, who played a far more defensive style than we've seen so far in the tournament.
The United States opened the match with a majority of the possession -- a trend that continued all half -- and appearing to be comfortable dealing with Panama's tendency to put high pressure on the ball. All that time on the ball in the opening minutes didn't really translate into anything dangerous for the USA, though, as the Americans quickly piled up fouls as Panama settled into the game.
Both teams wanted to play at a high tempo and it led to a lot of interceptions as the half progressed, but little in terms of consistent build-up play or good scoring chances. Stu Holden's well off-target shot from 25 yards out in the 11th minute was the first effort in the direction of a goal by either side, but it didn't trouble Jaime Penedo.
The first real dangerous moment came in the 17th minute when a ball into the Panama box was misplayed by two defenders and bounced out right to Landon Donovan, who had space. Panama midfielder Alberto Quintero made a great play to shoulder block Donovan off the ball and clear it away for a corner kick, which was wasted by the USA.
American fans collectively had a heart attack in the 23rd minute when oft-injured midfielder Stu Holden went down with an apparent knee injury. While he was able to walk off the field under his own power, he was visibly upset on the bench and favoring his right leg a bit as he walked back to the locker room.
Mix Diskerud replaced Holden in the midfield.
Panama continued to look up to the task of limiting the USA attack and started to create some chances on their own as the match moved past the 30-minute mark. Nothing really troubled Nick Rimando, but the speed and quickness in the Panamanian attack was definitely testing the American defense.
Alejandro Bedoya got a great chance in the 43rd minute, cutting inside into the Panama box from the right and sending a shot through traffic that took a deflection before being cleared out for a throw by a defender. The subsequent US attack was shut down by a foul call that left the Americans even more frustrated with the referee.
Panama seemed content to allow the USA to have to the ball in their own half, place extremely compact at the back when the Americans moved forward, and look for chances to counter with speed. It worked well in terms of limiting US chances and keeping the match scoreless, but it was hardly enthralling soccer.