The United States men’s national team looked flat on Sunday night as a second-half goal from Anibal Godoy gave Panama the win at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez Gutierrez and drop the Americans out of the top spot in CONCACAF’s Octagonal.
After a strong win on Thursday night, U.S. head coach Gregg Berhalter made several changes to his starting eleven for the away clash. Remaining with a 4-3-3 formation, Mark McKenzie teamed up with Walker Zimmerman in central defense in the place of Miles Robinson. Shaq Moore and George Bello started in the full-back spots in the place of Sergino Dest and Antonee Robinson. The latter did not travel with the team in order to avoid a mandatory quarantine upon return to England.
Sebastian Lletget and Kelin Acosta teamed up with Yunus Musah in the midfield as Weston McKennie was ruled out due to an injury and Tyler Adams was on the bench. Up top, Timothy Weah and Gyasi Zardes got the nod along with Paul Arriola.
The Americans had an early opportunity to open the scoring just four minutes into the contest when a corner from Acosta found Zimmerman in the area, but the center-back’s headed attempt went over the bar.
Panama put pressure on the U.S. goal a few times in the first half, but Matt Turner was on the spot to make the stops. His best save came in the 45th minute when he parried away a powerful strike from Edgar Barcenas.
With the team not finding many chances in the first, Berhalter went to his bench early as he brought on Brenden Aaronson and Adams at the start of the second half to hopefully open things up and find the goals.
However, it would be the hosts that found the only goal of the game in the 54th minute when Eric Davis’ corner kick from the right side gave Godoy the chance for a glancing header that snuck past Turner.
The Americans were now on the hunt for the equalizer and had a good chance to get two minutes later from a free-kick, but Acosta’s effort went past the post.
Berhalter once again went to his bench to look for some impact. Ricardo Pepi. Christian Roldan, and DeAndre Yedlin were brought to hopefully give the team a spark. Pepi, who has been a revelation since suiting up for the U.S. had a chance just minutes after stepping on the field, but he could not get a good angle to put his shot in the goal.
The U.S. could not catch a break in this game and Panama didn’t make things easy for them in the final minutes as a couple of fans ran onto the field and the ball boys would through multiple balls on the field after one went out of bounds.
It was certainly a frustrating result for the Americans, but they will have to get over it quickly as they will face Costa Rica on Wednesday.
The U.S. now sits in second place in the Octagonal with eight points, just ahead of Panama on goal difference.