Coach Gregg Berhalter opted to go with an entirely new line-up on Wednesday night and this decision made for nervy viewing with the specter of a Jamaica test in the quarterfinal seemingly one bad episode away. The team he fielded performed as you might expect (timid and underwhelming, that is), but Altidore eventually decided matters with a close range bicycle kick in the 66th minute to set up a far more favorable Curacao date in the next round.
Sean Johnson (6) — With Panama making a hash out of all their shot and cross opportunities, Johnson only had to make one simple save. He did make a solid rush off his line to scoop up a potentially dangerous loose ball and had his moments in distribution.
Reggie Cannon (6.5) — Though he wasn't able to supply the final balls, the FC Dallas right back repeatedly made tracks into good final third positions. Cannon had little to do in the US end, but was let off the hook by a imprecise cross when lax on one back side runner.
Matt Miazga (6.5) — It wasn't a great opening frame from Miazga, who misjudged the same ball into the area mentioned in the Cannon blurb. He was much improved after the break, shutting down any Panama advances that came his way and creeping forward to support attack possession.
Omar Gonzalez (6) — The veteran center back was largely solid in defense and moved the ball positively, especially in the first half. However, Gonzalez misjudged a simple ball on the ground to give up a look at goal, a mistake that could easily be punished against a more talented forward.
Wil Trapp (4.5) — As with Lovitz, we don't have any major calamities to report from the Columbus midfielder's outing and stepped high to force a turnover that might have led to a goal on another night. Still, his outlet passing game never really materialized, a couple of handling giveaways put the team under stress and he was again too easy to eliminate on the rare occasions when Panama worked through the midfield of the field.
Cristian Roldan (6) — The Seattle midfielder was arguably the best US player in the first half. Roldan was switching the point of attack, snaking into good spots around the area and generally facilitating promising rushes. He fell off quite a bit after halftime, though. Roldan lost too many midfield battles, and like Trapp, became an open gate when Panama broke out in transition.
Djordje Mihailovic (4.5) — The Chicago youngster had stray moments to laud, such as when his high pressure steal keyed an early threatening rush. Unfortunately, much of his night was filled with poor decisions and touches on the ball, including one that coughed a big shooting chance at the top of the US box. To boot, his free kicks were quite poor up until the one that Miazga played back into the goalmouth for Altidore's goal.
Jonathan Lewis (5.5) — It's easy to celebrate the way that Lewis was consistently able to get on the ball in promising positions, forcing Panama's backline to scramble back toward their own goal. Unfortunately, it's just as easy to be let down by his wastefulness once he got there. The Colorado winger was too hesitant to run at defenders and unable to find any of the right centering feeds.
Jozy Altidore (7) — The Toronto FC star's hold-up play was decent enough and he tried some "force the issue" passes that didn't quite come off. Altidore should have done better on an early box chance, but all was forgiven for that weak effort when he pulled an acrobatic rabbit out of the hat for the winner.
Coach Gregg Berhalter (3) — To put it mildly, I was not at all a fan of the boss' wholesale line-up swap gambit. He got away with it in the end, but that doesn't change the fact that the team was one effective Panama attack (and they had a few chances to get it done) from being in danger of losing an enviable knockout match-up to settle for a far trickier one. That was a real concern for over an hour, and there's just no need to roll dice in that manner. Berhalter surely realized the risk was real, as evidenced by his late subs.
Christian Pulisic (5.5) — The playmaker was mostly invisible during his 25-minute shift.
Tyler Boyd (6) — The winger probed a bit, but was unable to conjure any real chances.
Gyasi Zardes (-) — Not much to discuss regarding the late sub.