Berhalter’s lineup changes couldn’t overcome another slow start


PANAMA CITY, Panama — A team can repeat its mistakes so many times before it gets punished. So it proved for the United States men’s national team in its 1-0 World Cup qualifying defeat to Panama.

In its first four games, the U.S. had managed to avoid defeat. But even as it accumulated eight points from those matches, there were some warning signs. Slow starts were one. A lack of execution at times in midfield was another. And there was a perceived lack of intensity that more than one player mentioned. It’s a lesson that after five qualifiers — three of which were on the road — the U.S. should have figured out how to handle by now. Instead, it’s one they’re still learning.

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“We’re professionals. We expect to have a certain level of play and we didn’t have that tonight,” said U.S. goalkeeper Matt Turner. “I think it all boils down to intensity and not quality on the ball or anything.”

All of this left the U.S. vulnerable to a Panama side that has so far during this qualifying campaign proved to be a tough team to break down. And the Canaleros eventually broke through, courtesy of a set piece goal credited to Anibal Godoy but which also looked like it went off U.S. forward Gyasi Zardes.

“It was clear we didn’t have our best stuff,” said U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter. “It was the hope that we get out of there with a point. And, you know, disappointed to give up a goal the way we did, and lose the game. You know it’s a typical CONCACAF game, very physical ,very aggressive. I think we came up short in a number of areas, so it’s about now it’s about rebounding, focusing on the game on Wednesday in Columbus.”

There were lessons for Berhalter too. Granted, the triple fixture windows that are a staple of this…

Source : espn

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