Four lessons from Panama match 

January, 25, 2012

Win streak!

Yes, the U.S. has now won three straight matches under Jurgen Klinsmann, though Wednesday night's 1-0 result against what appeared to be a less-than-motivated Panama team won't be confused with the 2002 World Cup victory versus Mexico.

That said, the match concluded an intriguing January camp for the Americans, with some new faces earning some face time, and some old problems continuing to plague the U.S. We'll leave the 2012 edition with four observations from the U.S.-Panama friendly, which was available on WatchESPN. (If you haven't been using the service, you should be. It's got lots and lots of soccer.)

1. Return of the deadly long ball

Ever since the ill-fated Ghana match that ended the Yanks' 2010 World Cup run, teams have found success with balls over the top through the center of the field. Ghana, of course, won the Round of 16 match in extra time with a deep ball to Asamoah Gyan. Even Spain had success with the tactic in its 4-0 drubbing of the U.S. in last summer's friendly (and the Furia Roja never play long ball). And then, of course, Panama hurt the U.S. in the Gold Cup last year hitting long balls and making runs at Tim Ream.

Luke Cyphers is a former senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.
Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine. He has covered American and international soccer since 2002.