Anibal Godoy scored in the 54th minute and Panama upended the United States 1-0 in a World Cup qualifier on Sunday night when American coach Gregg Berhalter started a largely second-string lineup in the middle of another hectic stretch of three matches in seven days.
Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna and Weston McKennie were out with injuries, Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson were on the bench, and Antonee Robinson didn’t travel because of British Covid-19 restrictions that would have required a quarantine on his return to England.
With the US lineup far from its best, the Americans looked both nervous and overamped for stretches of the first half. Adams entered at the start of the second half and gave away a corner that led to the goal on a ball he may have been able to clear. Eric Davis’ corner was headed by Godoy past goalkeeper Matt Turner and inside the far post, causing a crowd about three-quarters full to shake Estadio Rommel Fernandez.
Aaronson gave the US more energy and pace, and Ricardo Pepi, DeAndre Yedlin and Christian Roldan entered in the 67th. During the final hectic minutes, the game was interrupted twice when fans ran onto the field, and a ball was thrown from the stands.
Sunday’s loss means the US have eight points after five of 14 games. They are in second place in the qualifying table ahead of Panama on goal difference, heading into Wednesday night’s match against Costa Rica in Columbus, Ohio. Canada are in fourth place after they drew 0-0 with Jamaica. The top three nations qualify, and the No 4 team advances to a playoff.
The defeat ended a 13-game unbeaten streak for the Americans that included 11 wins. The match was played on the fourth anniversary of the 2-1 loss at Trinidad that ended a streak of seven World Cup appearances for the US, a defeat that enabled Panama to reach the World Cup for the first time.
Berhalter changed seven starters from Thursday’s 2-0 home win over Jamaica, inserting Gyasi Zardes, Kellyn Acosta, Sebastian Lletget, Tim Weah, Shaq Moore, Mark McKenzie and George Bello. They joined Turner and three other holdovers: Walker Zimmerman, Yunus Musah and Paul Arriola. Panama used the same starting lineup in their first three qualifiers and nine of the 11 who began Thursday’s 1-0 loss at El Salvador.
Acosta repeatedly overhit corner kicks and free kicks in the early minutes.
Panama nearly went ahead in the 14th minute when Freddy Gondola crossed to an open Rolando Blackburn, who couldn’t get his foot on the ball in front of the net.
Davis’ corner kick was deflected past the far post in the 27th minute. Turner palmed a cross over the crossbar in the 28th, and in the 34th he jutted out his right arm to deflect Gondola’s point-blank shot after Acosta’s giveaway, only for Panama to be whistled for offside. Turner tipped Edgar Barcenas’ shot over the bar in the 45th.