Michael Bradley scored directly off a corner kick and Clint Dempsey added a one-on-one finish to help the U.S. men's national team beat Panama, 2-0, at StubHub Center in Carson City, Calif. on Sunday.
Bradley put the U.S. up 1-0 in odd fashion by scoring directly off a corner kick. The 27-year-old struck a corner kick in the 27th minute that bent around to the far post, over Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo's hand and into the top of the net. Forward Jozy Altidore was around the ball, almost skimming it with his forehead, but the ball needed no redirection as it spun into the top corner of the goal. Penedo misplayed the cross and his defense gave him no help with the curving strike.
The U.S. controlled the game and held the bulk of possession against a team they were favored to beat by many pundits. Panama had a few early chances that were squandered, including a breakaway that was ended by a harmless off-target shot. Panama managed just one shot on goal all game. The U.S., on the other hand, had a few chances to extend the lead and eventually did break the game open.
Dempsey put the U.S. up 2-0 with a calm finish after a lethal counter attack in the 37th minute. The team captain beat keeper Penedo one-on-one after a nice through-pass from attacking midfielder Gyasi Zardes. It was Dempsey’s 40th international goal.
The Yanks squad featured familiar names, as head coach Jurgen Klinsmann brought an experienced crop of stars to the friendly, including Bradley, Dempsey, Altidore, Jermaine Jones, Matt Besler and DeAndre Yedlin.
The U.S. entered the match needing a win, having lost three straight (and zero wins in five matches). Klinsmann had been openly critical of his squad’s fitness level after the latest loss to Chile. He even blamed the Major League Soccer schedule for the lack of preparedness. Perhaps the negative comments played a factor in the squad finding a win after a five-game drought.
The Yanks are 12-1-2 all-time against CONCACAF rival Panama. Next up for the team is a friendly at Denmark on March 25.