Friday, September 10, 2004

US Squeaks Out of The Zone with a Point

They... can't... finish.

The US Men's National Team's inability to finish scoring chances nearly cost them this past Wednesday night at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City, Panama. Playing before a small but vocal Panamanian crowd, the US squandered chance after chance in the game's first 30 minutes, until the Canaleros switched from a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3 formation. The extra attacker brought life to the home side, which dominated the World Cup Qualifier throughout the remainder of the match. After a 70th minute Panamanian goal, the US sulked and skittered their way toward their first loss in 26 matches against CONCACAF opponents.

However, Coach Bruce Arena's subbing intuition paid off again as late sub Cobi Jones, in his 163rd appearance with the National team, knocked home a loose ball in the second minute of injury time, to give the US a valuable draw and road point in the qualifying semis. If the US wants to reach Germany 2006, they must find a way to score early in matches, and often. They need to finish their opportunities. It'll only get harder from here.

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