US national team rely on Brad Guzan's saves in Gold Cup opener vs. Panama

Brad Guzan - US national team - June 21, 2016

His performance will largely go under the radar, but United States goalkeeper Brad Guzan was arguably the most important player in a 1-1 draw against Panama that marked their 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup opener on Saturday in Nashville.

With the USMNT's attack sputtering for most of the game, and the defense less stout than perhaps anticipated against the game Panamanians, Guzan made five saves, including an incredible one on the goal line in the 55th minute to keep the U.S. ahead 1-0 at the time.

Guzan's performance might be overshadowed, as he's not a new entry to the US set-up and the hosts could not hold on for a victory. Plus, the (soon-to-debut-as) Atlanta United goalkeeper was not looking for individual plaudits after the game.

"Obviously, we were giving them too much space with the ball," he said. "We never got close enough to guys, we never closed guys down. Whether it was the heat or whatnot I'm not sure, but they had to play in the same weather."

Although the U.S. took a lead shortly after halftime, with Kelyn Rowe and Dom Dwyer connecting in each player's second senior cap for the USMNT, Guzan was left to rue his team's limitations on the day otherwise, and turn attention to the next game, against surprise Group B leader Martinique.

"They did a good job of frustrating us and nicking balls in the good areas for them, and bad areas for us. We'll look at the game in the next day or two," Guzan said. "But at the same time, we'll now turn our focus to Wednesday." 

Arielle Castillo contributed reporting to this article.