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Scouting Panama

The U.S. faces Panama on Saturday in the Gold Cup quarterfinals.  It is a rematch of our last match against Panama (Bradley’s first and only):  a 2-1 victory in the 2007 Gold Cup quarterfinals.  That match got ugly quickly and a repeat of that victory will be hard earned.

The U.S. also faced Panama in the 2005 Gold Cup final, which was decided by a shootout. 

2007 Gold Cup quarterfinals

If you’re anything like me, the first thing you’d like to know about is the 2007 match.  10 of the 11 starters in that match return for the rematch, including Panama’s goal scorer, Blas Perez.

For the U.S., Brian Ching (who had six minutes as a late substitute for Clint Dempsey) is our only returning player from that match.  Another player, Santino Quaranta, played against Panama in the 2005 Gold Cup Final.  Quaranta came on in the 62nd minute for the U.S., took the first shot (and scored) during the shootout, which the U.S. won 3-1.

On to the match itself:  It got dirty quickly.  The match saw 40 fouls (22 for the U.S.), 9 yellow cards (4 for the U.S.), and a yellow accumulation red for Panama’s midfielder Manuel Torres.

The match report from ussoccer.com lists a couple off-the-post opportunities for the U.S. and an intense second-half display from Panama.  After a scoreless first half, the U.S. took the lead on a Donovan penalty kick in the 59th minute, followed by a Bocanegra header in the 62nd off a Beasley free kick.  Panama equalized late (and down a man) when Perez scored in the 84th minute.

Group Stage 2009 Stats

Offensive Stats:

 The U.S. is first (22 SOG, 8 G) and Panama is second (19 SOG, 6 G) in shots on goal and in goals scored.  Panama’s in a three-way tie for third in times called offsides (9) and the U.S. leads the tournament in times opponents were called offsides (18) so we can expect the U.S. to have some success with offsides traps.  The U.S. has only been called offsides once and Panama’s opponents have only been called offsides three times, so the U.S. could go yet another match without being caught offsides.

With the U.S. averaging possession of the ball for 54% of the match and Panama averaging only 48%, the U.S. should be able to control possession if it chooses to.  (A big if nowadays.)

Defensive Stats

The U.S. conceded two goals in the group stage;  Panama conceded three.  The U.S. conceded nine shots on goal and seven corner kicks.  Panama has conceded 16 shots on goal and 10 corner kicks.

Disciplinary Stats:

Panama leads the tournament in fouls committed with 54;  the U.S. falls in the middle of the pack with 37.  Both Panama and the U.S. have seven yellow cards, but Panama also has two red cards.

Stars of the Panama Roster

While perhaps not familiar to most Americans, Panama’s got a couple talented players.

  • Blas Perez:  28-year old striker who scored 7 goals in 16 matches for Pachuca last season.  Perez already has two goals in three matches in this Gold Cup, including the 29′ equalizer against Mexico.
  • Luis Tejada:  The man of many nicknames (matador, el gordito, and “America’s [Columbian team] Golden Tooth”) is only 27 but already has a fair list of accomplishments.  As a striker for the national team, Tejada scored the goal of the year during a 2005 match against Mexico in World Cup qualifying.  Tejada was the MVP of the 2005 Gold Cup.

Since January 1, 2007

Since January 1, 2007, Panama has played 35 matches.  It has won 12, lost 13, and drawn 10 times.  Panama has averaged  1.1 goals for and 1.2 goals against during that span.

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