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  • Writer's pictureSoccer Down Here

Panama defeats the USMNT 2-1 in Atlanta, sets up must-win match Monday against Uruguay

A 10-men USMNT fell to Panama 2-1 at Mercedes Benz Stadium on Thursday night in front of nearly 60,000 fans. They are now second in Group C of the 2024 Copa America and most likely will need a win by multiple goals against group leaders Uruguay on Monday night to advance to the knockout round.

The USA came out with a bang in the 5th minute when Weston McKennie found the back of the net after a recycled play, but Tim Ream was offside on a header from Chris Richards. The goal came back after review, and the score went back to 0-0. 

In the 12th minute, goalkeeper Matt Turner was involved in a violent collision with Panama’s Cesar Blackmon when Turner jumped to catch the ball, and Blackmon ran right into him. Turner was then give treatment for his left leg on the field, and he continued the first half. 

The turning point of the match came in the 18th minute when Tim Weah was given a red card for violent conduct in an off-the-ball incident which reduced the USA to 10 men for the rest of the match. 

The USA were the first on the board when Antonee Robinson jumped to intercept Panama’s pass and played the ball to Folarin Balogun, and after a few back and forth passes, Balogun unleashed a rocket into the inside of the right post to make it 1-0 in the 22nd minute.

Panama would be quick to respond as Cesar Blackmon found the back of the net in the 26th minute when  he guided a shot that deflected off of two US defenders and was able to beat Turner in a low shot on goal. It would be 1-1 going into halftime. 

Matt Turner would be substituted out of the match at halftime for the leg injury he sustained in the first half, and Ethan Horvath would be the new goalkeeper for the last 45 minutes. 

Panama controlled the possession more and more as the second half went on, while the found some success in counterattacking situations.

In the 83rd minute, Panama would find the winner as they capitalized on the USA not clearing the ball from their defensive third and  Jose Fajardo found a shot that went right past Horvath. 

The match would continue to boil over as Panama’ Adalberto Carrasquilla was issued a red card in the 88th minute for kicking Pulisic in the ankles before he could break towards goal. 

“I know the result is extremely disappointing. I can't fault the effort of the group especially after going down a man. The guys dug in and we were close to coming out with a point, but it's a shame because there was more in this game,” said head coach Greg Berhalter after the match. “Silly decision by Timmy [Tim Weah] that leaves us short handed, and then you have the whole thing that's moving with the referee throughout the game. It led to some strange circumstances for sure.” 

The USA had a few more opportunities, but couldn’t capitalize and the match would end 2-1 with Panama walking away with the win. 

“I was honestly quite proud of how we responded and how we fought and defended, obviously Balogun with an amazing goal, but again the result just kind of takes it all away,” said Christian Pulisic.  

While it might not have been the outcome that the USA wanted, they got to play in front of 59,145 fans in yesterday’s match. The USA chant could be heard every few minutes, and it was exciting to see and hear as Atlanta becomes  the future home of US Soccer. Defender Chris Richards said to the media that the crowd was amazing, and that the team had a great time playing here. Atlanta proved that we truly are the epicenter of soccer here in the US. 

The USMNT will face off against Uruguay on Monday July 1 and all of the USMNT's energy is going towards winning that match.  

“It is what it is at this point. Take it all on the chin. We have to beat Uruguay,” said Richards. “I think if we want to go far in this tournament, we have to beat teams like Uruguay anyway. It’s another chance for us to show why we deserve to be in the next round.”

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