The U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team dropped a 1-0 decision to Panama in its second game of the 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Championship at Independence Park on Sunday evening.
The USA (0-1-1, 1pt) next plays Aruba, which has lost its first two games of the competition by a combined score of 9-1 to Panama and Trinidad & Tobago. The match kicks off on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. ET, and will be broadcast on FOX Sports 2 and Univision Deportes. Fans can also follow all the action on Twitter @ussoccer_ynt and @ussoccer_esp.
Through the first 45 minutes, the U.S. dominated play much in the same way it did against Guatemala in its first match of the competition, generating chances by playing the ball down the wings and earning corners or free kicks within range of the Panama goal that nearly led to the U.S. taking the lead on a number of occasions.
Panama created some dangerous moments in the second half as the game stretched from end to end and found more room to operate. Carlos Small eventually snagged the game-winner in the 78th minute.
The USA needs to beat Aruba in its next match in order to stay within sight of finishing toward the top of Group A and assuring a playoff spot when the teams are reseeded after group play concludes on Jan. 22.
Goal Scoring Rundown:
PAN - Carlos Small (Edson Samms), 78th minute: A spell of possession for Panama led to Samms chipping the ball from just outside the top center of the U.S. penalty area into the path of Small running toward the left post. The Panama substitute, chested the ball down and sent a low shot between two U.S. defenders and just beneath the outstretched left hand of U.S. goalkeeper Zack Steffen into the bottom left corner of the net for the winning goal. USA 0, PAN 1 (FINAL)
Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
PAN - Luis Pereira, 9th minute: The first quality scoring opportunity of the match came to the U.S. from a corner kick that was whipped into the center of the Panama box by Emerson Hyndman. Panama goalkeeper Jamie de Gracia misjudged the flight of the ball and USA center back Matt Miazga sent a headed shot toward the upper right-hand corner. But, Pereira was on hand to head the ball clear off the line and keep the score knotted at 0-0 early on.
PAN - Jamie de Gracia, 17th minute: The U.S. worked the ball through midfield to the foot of Hyndman whose long, dipping drive from 27 yards out was headed for the lower right-hand corner of the Panama goal, but de Gracia was able to palm it away. Unfortunately for the U.S., Junior Flores was flagged offside as he chased down the rebound with the net left wide open.
USA - Zack Steffen, 26th minute: Edson Sams curled a wide-angled shot from the left wing toward Steffen's near post, but the USA 'keeper was well positioned to catch the powerful shot.
PAN - Jamie de Gracia, 30th minute: de Gracia charged out of his net and collided with U.S. forward Paul Arriola near the top center of the Panama box as both players attempted to head a long ball that was played toward the penalty area. de Gracia won the header but cleared out Arriola in the process and was stranded off his line. Flores collected the loose ball for the U.S. and let loose from long range, but his shot went high over the bar.
USA - Zack Steffen, 35th minute: Panama's best opportunity of the first half fell to Ismael Diaz, who one-timed a rocket toward the U.S. goal after running onto a cut back pass from Small. But his blast from the top of the box was right down the middle of the goal and Steffen made a great kick save with his trailing foot as he was diving to his left.
PAN - Jamie de Gracia, 65th minute: A flowing U.S. move cut open the Panama defense as Arriola and Lynden Gooch weaved a neat passing sequence that culminated with Gooch getting off a back-heeled shot from eight yards out, but the rolling shot hit de Gracia on the right leg and deflected behind for a U.S. corner kick that Miazga then headed over the bar.
The USA is now 3-1-0 all-time against Panama in qualifying, winning by a combined 9-1 margin. This was the USA's first loss to Panama in U-20 World Cup Qualifying.
U.S. U-20 MNT head coach Tab Ramos sent out an unchanged defensive unit from the first match of the competition with Shaq Moore on the right, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Matt Miazga in the middle and John Requejo on the left.
There were changes in midfield as Emerson Hyndman drafted into the center of the U.S. formation alongside Kellyn Acosta and Junior Flores, who was removed in the 53rd minute after taking a knock to the ankle for Bradford Jamieson IV.
Up top, Paul Arriola started out wide right with Lynden Gooch making his first start of the tournament as the center forward and Tommy Thompson out wide left.
Forward Ben Spencer and midfielder Amando Moreno saw their first action of the tournament, coming on in the second half for Hyndman and Thompson, respectively.