USA held to 1-1 draw by Panama in Gold Cup opener

New York (AFP) – The United States gave up an equalizer to draw 1-1 with Panama on Saturday to open Group B action in the CONCACAF Gold Cup in Nashville, Tennessee.

English-born striker Dom Dwyer scored for the United States — his second goal in as many matches for his adopted country putting the US up 1-0 in the 50th minute.

But Bruce Arena’s men couldn’t make the lead stand up as Miguel Camargo answered for Panama to insure the two strongest teams in the group shared the points.

That opened the door for Martinique to finish the day atop the group B standings after a 2-0 victory over Nicaragua.

Excellent work from Kelyn Rowe on the left side set up Sporting Kansas City forward Dwyer, who became a US citizen just three months ago, pursuing his football dream Stateside after he was told he wouldn’t make it in England.

Rowe easily got past Michael Murillo and moved deep down the left flank before sending a low cross into the penalty area where Dwyer turned and fired a left-footed shot into the right-hand corner of the net.

The US goal galavanized Panama, who saw Camargo’s blast from 20 yards out go over the bar two minutes later, then saw a brilliant chance go begging when Ismael Diaz somehow fired over the bar from a couple of yards out after a header by Gabriel Torres had been saved by a diving Brad Guzan.

Edgar Barcenas also narrowly missed before the determined Panamanians pulled level.

Barcenas’ cross set up Torres, who forced Guzan into another save, but New York City FC’s Camargo was there to bury the rebound.

Few quality chances followed, although the USA thought a penalty should have been awarded in the 82nd when captain Alejandro Bedoya came down after tangling with defender Luis Ovalle.

Both teams had opportunities in the scoreless first half.

The hosts’ best chance came in the 26th as Kellyn Acosta put a ball through to Rowe — whose shot went straight to Panamanian keeper Jose Calderon.

Camargo then tested Guzan with a curling shot from the edge of the area and both teams came close in first-half stoppage time.

The US, five-time winners of the regional championship, will be aiming to sharpen up defensively when they face Martinique on Wednesday in Tampa, Florida, where Nicaragua and Panama will also clash.

“There’s positives to take from the game,” Dwyer said. “We’re definitely disappointed not to get three points. But there’s a lot to build on.”

In the second match of the double-header, Kevin Parsemain opened the scoring when he headed in a cross from Johan Audel in the 35th minute. Martinique extended their lead in the 66th when, moments after coming on, Steeven Langil launched a solo run from midfield and finished from close range.

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