Dom Dwyer celebrates his second international goal in as many matches for the U.S. (Andrew Nelles/The Tennessean via USA TODAY Sports)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The United States certainly could have enjoyed a much better start to the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
The Americans grabbed the lead, but could not hold onto it as it settled for a 1-1 draw with Panama at Nissan Stadium Saturday.
Dom Dwyer had lifted the states into a 1-0 edge before a Tennesse-record crowd of 47,622, but the Central American side equalized 10 minutes later on the hour on a goal by New York City FC’s Miguel Camargo.
No one had to tell the Americans they underachieved.
“Crap performance,” midfielder Kellyn Acosta said on Twitter. “Has to be better.”
U.S. head coach Bruce Arena lamented a poor performance by the U.S. midfield, which gave up the ball on many occasions.
“We didn’t deal well with their pressure, especially in the midfield,” he said. “We turned the ball over way too much and didn’t do a good job establishing a rhythm, getting our team more involved in the game.
“I thought defensively we didn’t do a good enough job getting pressure on the ball.”
Former Red Bulls midfielder Dax McCarty, who was traded to the Chicago Fire in January, struggled in the middle of the park, constantly losing the ball in physical battles to Los Canaleros.
Despite hot and humid mid-day conditions in the Music City, the U.S. had numerous first-half chances from Kelyn Rowe, Kellyn Acosta and Dwyer, but went into halftime with the game scoreless.
It took little time for the score board to move after the break as Rowe allowed the winger enough space to send a centering effort for Dwyer, who first-timed his effort off the right post for his second goal in as many matches. The Sporting Kansas City striker became only the ninth American player to find the back of the net in his first two international appearances.
“I love playing with great players, and this is definitely a higher level than club football,” Dwyer said. “It’s international football, so you’ve got all the best players around you. So I think if I’m on a good team, I’m going to score goals.”
The goal lit a fire under the Panama attack as Gabriel Torres’ first-time effort was kept out with a reaction stop by goalkeeper Brad Guzan, only to see Camargo put home the rebound in the 60th minute.
The Americans hoped to get a late penalty call in the 80th minute when Alejandro Bedoya beat Luis Ovalle down the right flank to and broke into the box in full stride before the U.S. captain was shoved down by the Panama defender. The U.S. appeals were to no avail.
Group B opponents Martinique and Nicaragua played the second match of the doubleheader.
The U.S. meets Martinique at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. in Tampa, Fla. Wednesday (9 p.m. ET on FS1, UniMas and UDN).