While Stuart Holden’s injury will no doubt be the talking point, the United States will still have to push through in its effort to secure Gold Cup glory, as it is knotted at 0-0 with Panama at halftime.
The loss of Holden will definitely change the way the Americans play, as the oft-injured midfielder has been a major bright spot for the Stars and Stripes all tournament.
Mix Diskerud will be expected to fill in for a United States side that has dominated possession of the ball.
As the game enters its midway point, let's take a look at what the U.S. will need to do to improve for the final 45.
Create Scoring Chances
The Yanks have had 76 percent of possession but have little to show for it. The home team has only managed to muster four shots, with none challenging the keeper.
A lot of the credit has to go toward the Panamanian defense, which has hunkered down into a defensive shell. Panama has been one of the best defensive teams all tournament, as it has only conceded three times.
Panama is allowing the U.S. to possess the ball in its own half but is quickly taking away any and every opportunity in the final third.
However, the United States will need to show a bit of creativity if it hopes to get on the board. The U.S. will need to find a way to get Landon Donovan the ball in more advantageous positions, as his playmaking ability is unmatched by any other U.S. player.
Panama is one goal away from turning this game into a disaster, so the U.S. needs to be urgent when it comes to getting on the board first.
Limit Panama’s Opportunities
Despite having limited time on the ball, Panama has been somewhat dangerous on the counter.
The underdogs have been able to whip a few balls into the box, which could easily leave the United States looking up at a Panamanian goal.
The United States needs to close down Panama as fast as possible during the away team’s limited opportunities. The defense will need to remain attentive and composed at all times, as one mistake can turn this whole game around.
Look for the United States to try to close down Panama much faster, as it is necessary to keep the ball in Panama’s half.
Take Advantage of Set Pieces
The United States has taken full advantage of set pieces throughout this Gold Cup run.
Designed corner plays and soaring headers have become the norm for this squad, as numerous goals have been produced through dead-ball plays.
Despite earning a free kick and three corners, the United States hasn’t been able to really challenge the keeper.
The Yanks will need to become sharper on set pieces, where they can take advantage of what has become one of the strongest aspects of the team’s game plan.
What would you like to see the U.S. do in the second half? Have your say below!
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