Quick Thoughts: US v Panama

Despite being stretched for the full 120 minutes, the US was able to qualify for a semi final date with Honduras thanks to an extra time penalty from Kenny Cooper. A few quick thoughts from the game and on the Thursday night semi-final against Honduras in Chicago...

Stuart Holden has continued to establish himself as the integral offensive cog for this iteration of the national team. Feeding Kenny Cooper on the play that drew the penalty, letting the ball run past him on the Beckerman equalizer, and sliding just wide on a beautiful give and go mid-way through the 2nd half.

Davy Arnaud impressed me greatly as well and it was unfortunate that he came off. Not sure I believe in the Cooper/Ching pairing as they are very similar players. If BB wants two strikers, one should be in the Arnaud/Davies mold...smaller, faster, more comfortable with the ball at his feet. Ching and Cooper's strength is not feeding other players to provide much service to eachother.

Kyle Beckerman has been invaluable throughout this tournament as well, making his way from box to box, distributing the ball well and coming up with a huge/timely equalizer last night as well. Whether there is room for him on the 'A' team is yet to be seen but he has put in a good showing for himself so far.

I thought Jimmy Conrad played a superb first half and despite being beat in the air for the Panama goal, Clarence Goodson filled in admirably for the 2nd half really doing everything he could to limit their chances. If Conrad's concussion is serious though, he will be missed for the duration of this tournament.

Heath Pearce looks good coming forward out of the left back role and should cement himself within the 'A' team. I do prefer having Bocanegra out there but Pearce has shown that he can provide a solid backup/secondary option.

Moving into the semi-finals it remains to be seen if BB chooses to pull from his extended pool of players. I can't seem to find who that pool includes but BB has hinted that he is going to go with what he has here. Not sure this is the best option as winning the Gold Cup could go a long way in establishing World Cup seeding, as Greg Lalas explains here.

BB has done a great job of getting 80+ players capped during his 3 year tenure as the the USMNT coach and he has continued during the early stages here. At this point though, he needs to focus on winning this tournament and therefore putting the best possible team out there. As admirable as it would be win this tournament with a team that is basically a 'B' team, there are no points awarded for level of difficulty.

The key cogs in the group stage 2-0 win over Honduras, Davies and Feilhaber, are with their club teams in Europe now and are tehrefore unavailable for the upcoming semi-final. Who is going to step up in order for the US to win is the question for the next 4 days....

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