Featured also at Cardinal Publishers Group, July 2015
United States vs Panama
Panama had an uphill struggle trying to beat the US in order to qualify for the next round. It was a must win. The US, on the other hand, was already clear into the next phase of the tournament, on route for the final destination: the final game, and hopefully the Confederations Cup in 2017. There's something about CONCACAF uniforms that keep getting better and better. Panama is sponsored by New Balance. Who is sponsored by New Balance? I think it's the coolest thing in the world, just as Reebok sponsoring NFL teams is awesome. It's so nice to see teams wearing something other than the traditional monopoly of Adidas, Nike and Puma (to a lessor extent). Why not bust out some Diadora sponsorship, or maybe Lotto? Possibly, Saucony? The US home uniform is looking as good as it can get. All white, simple, classy. However, there's a slight discrepancy with the buttons on the collar. Some players button all the way up, while others leave the top button undone. Follow France's route: they have the top button naturally undone, leaving all the players looking the same. Onward with Panama!
The first half looked like absolute rubbish from the US; looking like days of old, with passes not connecting, no harmony and "bad tempo" as Brad Freidel pointed out. Panama got their much needed one goal lead but in the second half the US changed the lineup a bit, eventually outplaying the opponents. There was never a moment of "No mas" from the Panama side, even when the US tied the game in the second half and it became clear that they were on the way out.
Prior to the game, the Panamanian side complained of a previous referee and insisted on having a new one, which came to fruition at the last moment, unbeknownst to the US. The Mexican ref did a good job, letting the game flow, allowing the players to bump and grind, calling things fairly with the exception of a horrible oversight on a Bedoya breakaway as he was clearly fouled from behind. Yet, no foul was called, giving Panama a clear pass. Guzan was strong in goal, making a case to stay on board instead of the experienced Tim Howard. As the lineup continues to be tinkered with, Klinsmann and staff are finding "the way" the best they can, discovering many things along the journey.