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GOLD CUP

BJ Callaghan takes the blame for USMNT Gold Cup penalty defeat to Panama: post game comments

The manager took the pressure off his players after the USMNT lost in a surprise defeat to Panama in the Gold Cup semi-final.

Update:
The manager took the pressure off his players after the USMNT lost in a surprise defeat to Panama in the Gold Cup semi-final.
PATRICK T. FALLONAFP

The USMNT crashed out of the Gold Cup against Panama at the semi-final stage, losing to Thomas Christensen’s side on penalties after a 1-1 draw at Snapdragon Stadium in California. A tight 0-0 draw opened up in extra-time when Iván Anderson gave the Central Americans the lead with Jesús Ferreira scoring just moments later.

USMNT boss, BJ Callaghan, spoke after the game, saying that the first 45 minutes “were my fault” and that he “didn’t set the team up the way they should have been set up.” The high-intensity game saw plenty of chances go both ways, with Panama controlling possession and finding the target five times compared to three from the US.

Callaghan remains positive despite defeat

As a result of the openness to the game, BJ Callaghan made the necessary tactical changes during the break something about which he said he was “proudof his team’s reaction.

“We were able to make the adjustments at halftime and I was so proud of the group”, he said, “the way they came out in the second half and the way they responded. So I don’t have anything but positive things to say about how the group handled this match.”

The difficulties that Panama caused the USMNT showed throughout the game, with the US struggling at times to hold the ball and get their forward players into areas where damage could be done, something Callaghan recognised after the game: “We tried to remain true to our identity, we wanted to go out and press”, he admitted.

Panama's Adalberto Carrasquilla celebrates after scoring the winning penalty kick.
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Panama's Adalberto Carrasquilla celebrates after scoring the winning penalty kick.PATRICK T. FALLONAFP

“We’re not a group that’s going to make excuses”

Panama, they’re a really well-coached team, they’re really experienced, they’ve been together for a long time”, Callaghan continued. “So they were able to cause us challenges and in the wide areas, it was difficult for us to get to those long diagonals in the first half, and we expended a lot of energy. We were just able to make a small adjustment defensively to get some more cover into the wide areas. I thought the guys executed that great, put in another great shift.”

Finally, despite the poor result and difficulties throughout the match, Callaghan was in no mood to shift the blame onto anyone in particular. “We’re not a group that’s going to make excuses. These are all challenges, and each team has different challenges that they have to face, and we continually work and then we talk about how we’re going to respond to them. So for me, it’s part of what happens when you are in the group stage and knockout games. You deal with a lot of different factors, and you have to learn how to deal with it, and we were able to get a lot of experience in doing it.”

The USMNT return to action in September against Uzbekistan and Oman.