SAN DIEGO – The U.S. Men’s National Team will look to continue its winning streak and remain perfect in group play at the 2015 Gold Cup on Monday night against Panama in Kansas City at Sporting Park.
With first place in the group already clinched and a trip to the quarterfinals booked, Monday’s match offers an opportunity for U.S. coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, to continue to tinker his roster, which has had it’s positive moments, but those moments still are too few and far between through two victories.
One of the positives that has emerged is the play of California native and LA Galaxy forward, Gyasi Zardes, who has seen his stock rise since his first cap on January 28 against Chile.
After scoring his first international goal against the Netherlands on June 5, Zardes once again turned heads when he was brought on as a halftime substitute in the USMNT’s 4-0 win over Guatemala – final friendly before Gold Cup – on July 3. He provided a much-needed spark and created chances with smart positioning and an ability to dribble through opponents. He put an explanation point on his performance when he provided the assist on California native, Chris Wondolowski’s, goal.
Zardes earned a start in the following game against Honduras. He had his moments, but was mostly kept in check by a physical Honduran side. In the following match against Haiti, Zardes came off the bench at halftime and made his presence felt moments later when he provided the game-winning assist to Clint Dempsey.
At just 23 years old, Zardes is a strong candidate to remain a fixture within the U.S. team. Monday’s match against Panama is another chance for Zardes to stake his claim as a starter for Klinsmann.
With the group locked up, Monday’s match also offers an opportunity for Klinsmann to rest players. Goalkeeper Brad Guzan has played every minute for the U.S. in the Gold Cup. Monday’s match may be an opportunity for California native, Nick Rimando, to get a start. Same goes for Wondolowski, who may see some minutes against Panama.
Monday’s match should also see the return of Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy) in the starting lineup after not appearing in the win over Haiti.