USMNT at risk of early Copa América exit after chaotic defeat to Panama

USMNT at risk of early Copa América exit after chaotic defeat to Panama

José Fajardo beat backup goalkeeper Ethan Horvath in the 83rd minute to give Panama a 2-1 victory over the US at the Copa América on Thursday night, putting the Americans in danger of elimination if they don’t beat Uruguay in their group-stage finale.

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In a chaotic game that saw the two sides combine for 22 fouls, the US played for most of the match a man down. Timothy Weah was shown a red card in the 18th minute after he struck Panama defender Roderick Miller away from the ball.

“You never mean to get a red card,” Tyler Adams said after the game. “[Weah] is not that type of person. He apologized to the team, and respect to the rest of the team because they fought for every single ball, every single duel … and we still created chances after going down to 10 men, so it shows our quality. Again, all to play for in the last game [of the group].

Weah issued a public apology on social media.

“I let my team and my country down,” he wrote on Instagram. “A moment of frustration let to an irreversible consequence, and for that I am deeply sorry to my teammates, coaches, family and our fans.”

Folarin Balogun put the shorthanded US ahead in the 22nd minute with a thundering strike, but César Blackman tied things in the 26th minute.

Horvath, who replaced the injured Matt Turner at half-time, couldn’t prevent Fajardo’s close-range shot from going through his arms, and Panama beat the US for just the third time in 27 meetings.

Weston McKennie appeared to put the US ahead in the fifth minute but the goal was disallowed after a VAR review for offside.

The match finished 10 v 10 after Panama were also shown a red card in the 88th minute. Adalberto Carrasquilla was given a straight red after chopping down Christian Pulisic from behind. The US threw everyone forward in a desperate attempt to tie the game, including Horvath, but Panama held on for the win.

Weah was sent off by Salvadoran referee Iván Barton after striking Miller in the back of the head. A pro-American crowd of 59,145 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium was irate, especially after two other calls went against the host country.

Chris Richards’ header from Pulisic’s corner was deflected off the crossbar by goalkeeper Orlando Mosquera, and a video review determined Tim Ream was offside when he poked the ball to McKennie, who put the ball in from near the penalty spot.

Blackman did not receive a card when he collided in the 12th minute with a leaping Turner, who landed awkwardly on his arm and was down for several minutes while being tended to by medical personnel.

Balogun scored after a sloppy clearance. Antonee Robinson dribbled into the penalty area and passed to the striker. Balogun exchanged taps with Robinson and curled a shot from the edge of the area off the inside of the far post and in for his fifth goal in 14 appearances.

Blackman tied the score in the 26th when he took a pass from Adalberto Carrasquilla at the arc, dribbled around Robinson and shot through the legs of Richards and just past Turner’s outstretched arm.

Berhalter made three substitutions to start the second-half but the moves backfired. Berhalter switched a 5-4-1 formation, looking to stifle Panama’s attack. Instead, Panama bossed the possession and carved open the US backline.

The Americans benefited from a video review in the 63rd minute after Cameron Carter-Vickers, another substitution, was whistled for taking down Fajardo in the area. The call was reversed when a video review, which showed Fajardo already had crossed the ball when Carter-Vickers made contact.

Their best opportunity in the second half came in the 81st minute when a header by Ricardo Pepi was saved by Orlando Mosquera.

The US, who opened with a win against Bolivia, will probably need to beat 15-time champions Uruguay on Monday in Kansas City in order to earn a quarter-final berth.

Panama lost to Uruguay 3-1 and will close against Bolivia, a team with 13 straight Copa América losses going into Thursday night’s game against the Uruguayans.

Failure to advance from the biggest test for the Americans before the 2026 World Cup will raise questions about whether coach Gregg Berhalter should remain in charge.