United States Secure Top Spot in Group, Defeats Panama 1-0

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Jozy Altidore's second-half goal saw the United States overcome Panama 1-0 to complete a perfect group-stage campaign at the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Altidore's overhead kick in the 66th minute gave USA a third win from as many games in Group D, securing top spot and a quarter-final clash against Curacao.

USA made 11 changes to their starting line-up and it showed, but Altidore – having squandered two great chances earlier – stepped up to secure three points in Kansas City.

While they were unconvincing, Gregg Berhalter's USA did enough to complete the perfect group-stage campaign.

USA made a lively start as they pushed for an opening goal and it almost came through Altidore in the 16th minute.

After Panama turned over possession, Jordan Morris played in Altidore, but the striker pulled his shot wide from an angle from inside the area.

Altidore squandered another chance five minutes later, the striker putting a tame shot straight at Panama goalkeeper Jose Calderon after a Cristian Roldan cutback.

Jonathan Lewis was denied by an excellent Fidel Escobar block, while Jose Fajardo fired wide for Panama on the counter-attack six minutes before half-time.

Both teams struggled to begin the second half, leading to the introduction of USA star Christian Pulisic just after the hour-mark.

The opener followed for USA after a corner as Altidore scored his 42nd international goal.

The set-piece went uncleared and some poor defending from Panama led to Altidore producing an overhead kick from close range to make it 1-0.

 

That was all USA needed, closing out a narrow victory as neither side created much of note in the closing stages.

What does it mean? Job done for USA

USA simply needed to avoid defeat to secure top spot and the easier quarter-final clash, avoiding Jamaica. Berhalter's side got the job done despite what was an unconvincing display.

Changes could hurt USA

USA were beginning to find rhythm in wins over Guyana (4-0) and Trinidad and Tobago (6-0). Still, Berhalter opted to rest what is seemingly his preferred team and it remains to be seen whether that was the right decision.

Altidore goal not enough

The Toronto striker scored, but he also missed two chances in the first half. That is unlikely to be enough to earn him a start ahead of Gyasi Zardes, who has three goals at the tournament.

What's next?

Both teams will play in Philadelphia on Sunday. USA take on Curacao, while Panama face Jamaica.