Do you ever get home after a long day, get ready to go to that restaurant you like a lot - it’s not the best food, but it’s cheap and filling and unhealthy in the best way. The whole time on your way you just think about the thing on the menu you want, you know it will be great and comforting and make your belly warm and you can tap into your inner Anthony Bourdain a little bit and find a greater truth about the world in something good and simple that’s done well and is always there for you without judgment. And then you get there and the place is closed for some inexplicable reason - not shut down, just a pipe burst or something. It’ll be there tomorrow or in a week or whatever, but you don’t really know what to do because you were looking forward to that great dish and so you just go across the street to the other place with the slow service and the roof that is inexplicably leaky and just get the thing that’s probably overcooked and under seasoned. It’s not bad but it’s not what you wanted so you go home a little defeated. You know what I mean?
That’s exactly what it was like watching this game.
The backups of the US Men’s National Team took on the backups of Panama in the city with the third best bar-b-q in the country as they wrapped up group play in the Gold Cup. Thanks to a bicycle kick from Jozy Altidore the team beat Panama 1-0.
Here’s the lineup the US played in a 4-1-4-1:
It’s 11 changes.
Panama made 9 changes.
How do you think the game went?
Here’s how a bunch of starters in MLS, second divisions in Europe, and Omar Gonzalez did against a bunch of guys who play in the Panama domestic league, Bolivia, Saudi Arabia, Chile, MLS, and Ascenso MX
In the first 45 the US couldn’t get anything going on the attack. Jozy Altidore looked every inch the player still getting his first minutes after coming back from injury and is on the team instead of a healthy Josh Sargent. The team had 63% possession, just had four shots and one on target. It seems like the strategy of playing really unconvincingly for 45 minutes or an hour until the other team fell apart was the way the US would get a victory if that were to come in the second half.
This is the cost of the players needing rest perhaps, but also exposes how the depth of the USMNT is pretty shallow. There’s a steep drop off in central midfield, nothing close to a player that can replace Christian Pulisic or even provide any threat as a no. 10, captain Omar Gonzalez... something something... proving himself... something something... probably not in the plans going forward and not offering much here.
In short, Panama was really happy to sit back in a low block, the US couldn’t do much to break it down. Los Canaleros would go forward sometimes, but not be able to put anything together to get through the US backline. And that happened for 66 minutes.
I’m obligated to put a highlight in here so, this is the play of the game.
At about the hour mark Pulisic did check in for Jonathan Lewis answering the question - what would it look like if Christian Pulisic was on the American MLS All-Star team?
The first goal would come not long after he joined the fray on the most American of plays to score a goal - a set piece. Though it was scored by a bicycle kick from Jozy after the keeper got screened by his defender and couldn’t push the ball far enough out of the way for a clearance. It’s always fun to see a bicycle kick.
¡¡GOOOOOOOOOOLLLL DEL TEAMMM USAAAA!! ALTIDORE DE CHILENA, DE ESPALDA AL ARCO, ABRE EL MARCADOR CON UN GOLAZO— Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) June 27, 2019
⚽ @fepafut 0-1 @USMNT
Disfruta EN VIVO de #TuCopaOro https://t.co/U4Jp05huIa pic.twitter.com/wSuKveo5cn
Then Tyler Boyd came on for Jordan Morris in the 70th minute and finally the waiting ended as Gyasi Zardes came in for Altidore in the 81st minute - mercifully the game ended 1-0.
If you have never watched MLS on a Wednesday night, this was the essence of a mid-week league match during a congested time for a team. The backups were starting, the play was sloppy, and the plan was clearly to hold on until about the hour mark when the good players could come in and try to grab a win or draw despite the team playing like they were backups for most of the game.
American Hero of the Night: Padma Lakshmi
Who would have thought that Padma would be the one to expose Deadspin’s article that made it seem like the USMNT players don’t support the USWNT in their equal pay dispute?
Hmm. I was just told their union made a statement back in March supporting the USWNT: https://t.co/ccVcXXDRQs— Padma Lakshmi (@PadmaLakshmi) June 24, 2019
And how do you screw up dunking on the USMNT and US Soccer? There is no easier organization on the planet to dunk on.
No really it’s Padma, she’s the American Hero of the Night.