With a berth in the quarterfinal stage already booked, head coach Gregg Berhalter made the maximum number of changes to his lineup for the final group stage match versus Panama on Wednesday in Kansas City, and the U.S. pulled off a 1-0 win. A slow and sloppy group struggled to create clear chances for more than an hour before a Jozy Altidore goal from a corner kick put them in front and pushed them to victory in the game and in Group D.
Rest for the group that played the first two matches in the tournament and reps for the group that replaced them. If Berhalter's primary concern was setting his team up for the knockout rounds, simply turning over the roster was enough to ensure fresh legs for Sunday's match. Altidore's goal, his first for the national team since 2017, should be a boost of confidence for an important player.
Turning over the full team ended the momentum built from two dominant performances to open the tournament. The slower speed of play and lack of sharpness reflected the clear drop in quality from the first-choice XI that scored 10 goals in two games to the second-choice group that lined up to face Panama.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- If judged just on the result, Berhalter gets a passing grade. The U.S. won the game and the group and moves into the quarterfinals with confidence that it can get results even without the best talent on the field. Any arrested momentum is obviously of secondary concern to the coach, though fans will wonder what was lost via an uninspiring group stage finale.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 the best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Sean Johnson, 6 -- Made the saves required. Secure and confident enough passing out of the back.
DF Reggie Cannon, 6 -- Mixed in plenty of good moments to go with some questionable decisions and a lack of final product. Dynamic and aggressive, particularly up the field.
DF Matt Miazga, 7 -- Applied smart, effective pressure to help the Americans win the ball in midfield. Headed down corner that led to Altidore's goal.
DF Omar Gonzalez, 5 -- A step slow in at least one-vs.-one situations that allowed Panama to threaten. Good in the air but struggled to pass from the back.
DF Daniel Lovitz, 3 -- Made a host of poor decisions, particularly in the first half. Did not appear up to the speed of the game.
MF Wil Trapp, 5 -- Uneven. Switched play effectively on occasion. Passed teammates into pressure and turned the ball over in the middle of the field.
MF Jordan Morris, 6 -- Among the best American performers in the first half. Direct and energetic, combined well with Cannon on the right flank.
MF Cristian Roldan, 4 -- Best moments came in combination with Morris but was prone to turnovers and overly ambitious choices in the final third that fell flat.
MF Djordje Mihailovic, 4 -- Too slow. Loose with passes in the final third. Set piece service mostly poor until the game winner.
MF Jonathan Lewis, 5 -- Lively on the flank but lacked the final product necessary to make runs to the end line count.
FW Jozy Altidore, 6 -- Acrobatic goal for the winner. Did not give enough via hold-up play but showed flashes. Hit a poor shot on excellent chance in the first half.
MF Christian Pulisic, NR -- Popped up with a few good moments drifting inside from the left wing.
MF Tyler Boyd, NR -- Handful of touches as a late sub. Did not impact the game.
FW Gyasi Zardes, NR -- Only real contribution came via a high press.