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USA vs Panama, 2017 Gold Cup: What we learned

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Even with a relatively lifeless 1-1 draw, we still learned a few things about the squad.

Soccer: 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup-USA  at Panama Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

The United States played to a 1-1 draw against Panama on Saturday afternoon in their Gold Cup opener. Even though they are a perennial CONCACAF powerhouse, the USMNT really struggled throughout the game, and some would even say Panama was the team that deserved the result. In the end, we can walk away from this game having learned a lot of things about the squad.

Here are some of the takeaways:

The Defense

The back four that trotted out today was nowhere near the “A-squad” back four, and unfortunately they showed it. Panama got behind the defense all day, and they honestly deserved more than one goal. The USMNT back line was caught out of position by a number of through balls, and that was compounded by a series of mistakes. Graham Zusi was beat a few times, while Jorge Villafana let a few dangerous crosses get in from his side, and Omar Gonzalez made some poor decisions while losing a few one-on-ones.

Bruce Arena did mention that there would be a fair amount of squad rotation throughout the group stage, so we may not see this same four again. With that said, whoever starts the next two games will have a major chance to make their case to start the knockout rounds. When that comes, the back line has to be better.

Kelyn Rowe is a Name to Watch

Coming into the Gold Cup, all eyes were on players like Dom Dwyer and Kellyn Acosta, but it might be time to add Kelyn Rowe into that mix. He played well last week against Ghana, and he was even rated the best player yesterday. He creates plays and looks dangerous whenever he is on the field. Although he came into this camp as a relative unknown, the former UCLA Bruin might just be working his name onto the World Cup roster.

Dom Dwyer is Taking His Chance

Many viewed this Gold Cup as a chance for Dom Dwyer to make his case for being on the national team. So far, he has two goals in two games. That’s all you can really ask of your striker. He has showed hustle, hold up play, and a nose for getting into dangerous spots. His name belongs right next to Rowe’s as the biggest success of this tournament so far.

Right now, it would be hard to argue against him being the fourth striker with Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, and Bobby Wood. If he can keep up the good work, he just might be heading to Russia next summer.

What did you learn from yesterday’s Gold Cup opener?