All three Sporting Kansas City players currently with the United States National team played when the Americans traveled to Panama and brought home the second win of 2012. Not only did the Sporting KC players get time, midfielder Graham Zusi got the lone goal in the 9th minute and teammate Teal Bunbury was credited with the assist.
The goal was Zusi’s first international goal in just his second appearance for his country. Zach Loyd had sent the ball into the box where it was re-directed off of Bunbury’s foot across the goal. Zusi did not hesitate long to step up and it put home underneath a diving Panamanian keeper. “I was just there to clean it up,” Zusi said after the match.
Peter Vermes, Zusi’s Manager with Sporting Kansas City thinks it was more than just being there. “I’ve heard people say right place right time but I disagree,” Vermes explained. ” It comes down to he was playing the position the way he should. He was tactically in the right place. He was on the outside flank and it’s his job to be the second forward in the box and he was.”
Not only was he in the right spot but Vermes thought it was a good shot as well. “It was a great finish. People think it’s easy when you look at it but it’s actually a very difficult finish when you look at it the way the keeper came out and then you had three players that were in there. It was Teal and a defender and actually one other defender on the backside. He still had to find his way through there so yes, excellent finish, he took it well. Great to get his first goal in his second game with the national team.”
When asked if he thought that Zusi would be in the mix for traveling to Brazil with the full National Team for the World Cup in 2014, Vermes Responded, “I would like to think so, he has developed really well over the past year and I’m hoping that is going to continue. I think that with all the guys that made an impact last year on our team, for them it is about consistency. Can you continue to do it over time and not just stay at that level but continue to grow. That’s going to be the big thing for him and some other guys this year.”
The January National Team camp has been traditionally for younger players and players that are not regulars with the squad and U.S. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann kept up the tradition this time around. Not only was this Zusi’s first two games but teammate CJ Sapong also made his first two appearances for the U.S. as well. While not a regular yet, Bunbury made several appearances with the U.S. in 2011 and added the two this year.
Despite jumping out to the lead early after Zusi scored, the U.S. did not threaten much in the first half and then went down a man when Geoff Cameron received a red card in the 52nd minute for pushing Blas Perez from behind on a breakaway.
Most of the top American players will return
For the next game, an exhibition against Italy at Genoa on Feb. 29, the majority of the top players will be available and likely play.
Now that the U.S. camp is over, the three Sporting KC players will be given a few days off and then join their club in Arizona for the next phase of Spring Training.
Match: USA vs. Panama
Date: Jan. 25, 2012
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Estadio Rommel Fernandez; Panama City, Panama
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET
Weather: 77 degrees; partly sunny
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
Panama 0 0 0
USA 1 0 1
USA – Graham Zusi (Teal Bunbury) 9th minute
USA:1-Nick Rimando (12-Sean Johnson, 46); 2-A.J. DeLaGarza, 4-Michael Parkhurst, 5-Geoff Cameron, 3-Zach Loyd (14- Heath Pearce, 41); 6-Ricardo Clark (16-Jeff Larentowicz, 67), 8-Jermaine Jones (capt.); 7-Chris Wondolowski (13-Jeff Parke, 55), 10-Graham Zusi (15-Brad Evans, 66); 11-Brek Shea; 9-Teal Bunbury (18-C.J. Sapong, 76)
Subs not used: 17-Benny Feilhaber
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann
PAN: 1-Luis Mejia, 17-Carlos Rodriguez, 2-Eric Vasquez, 14-Eduardo Dasent, 3-Rolando Algandona; 11-Amir Waithe (15- Luis Ovalle, 71), 8-Marcos Sanchez, 6-Gabriel Gomez (13-Juan DeGracia, 90+2), 19-Alberto Quintero (20- Rolando Botello, 77); 7-Blas Perez (capt.), 16-Luis Renteria (9-Manuel Mosquera, 75)
Subs not used: 12-Kevin Melgar, 5-Sergio Thompson, 4-Edward Benitez
Head coach: Julio Dely Valdes
Stats Summary: USA / PAN
Shots: 8 / 11
Shots on Goal: 4 / 5
Saves: 4 / 4
Corner Kicks: 0 / 6
Fouls: 11 / 7
Offside: 0 / 1
USA – Zach Loyd (caution) 14th minute
USA – Jermaine Jones (caution) 42
USA – Geoff Cameron (sent off) 51
USA – A.J. DeLaGarza (caution) 73