Dwyer scores again, Zusi collects cap No. 50 as USA ties Panama 1-1 in Gold Cup opener

U.S. MNT vs. Panama - Starting XI - 2017 Gold Cup

Dom Dwyer scored his second goal in as many games for the U.S. Men’s National Team in a scrappy 1-1 draw against Panama at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium on Saturday.

The Sporting Kansas City forward struck in the 50th minute before Panama equalized 10 minutes later through Jose Calderon, splitting the points between the regional rivals in their Group B opener of the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Dwyer started and played 90 minutes in his Gold Cup debut, as did his Sporting Kansas City teammates Matt Besler and Graham Zusi. Besler collected his 41st cap and Zusi made his milestone 50th international appearance, becoming the first-ever player to earn 50 U.S. caps while playing for Sporting KC.

Kelyn Rowe was the first American player to create danger in a showdown played amidst sunny, 90-degree conditions. The New England Revolution midfielder found a pocket of space on the left flank and pulled the trigger from nearly 30 yards, forcing Panama goalkeeper Calderon to parry away in the fifth minute.

Rowe caused further danger in the 26th minute, running onto a clever ball from Jorge Villafana before striking straight at Calderon. Dwyer recorded his first shot seven minutes later, but the effort was blocked amidst a hoard of bodies in a crowded penalty area.

At the opposite end, U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan dove at full extension to push Miguel Camargo’s right-footed curler just wide of the far post. Panama would threaten once more on the stroke of halftime, as Ismael Diaz cut into the central channel from the left side and pulled a low shot inches wide of Guzan’s right-hand post.

The U.S. would improve after the break, drawing first blood on the 50-minute mark. Rowe received a throw-in along the left sideline, dashed toward the corner flag and whipped a low cross into the box. Dwyer was on hand near the penalty area for a one-time, left-footed finish that caromed off the far right post and into the net for his second international goal in the space of a week. In doing so, he became the ninth U.S. player all-time to score in each of his first two senior team appearances.

Panama would respond impressively and spurned a glorious chance to equalize five minutes after Dwyer’s opener. Guzan produced a stunning save to deny a header from Gabriel Torres before Diaz somehow lashed the rebound high of the crossbar from point-blank range.

The visitors remained steadfast, however, and found their equalizer on the hour-mark. Torres’ blistering strike near the penalty spot was blocked by Guzan, but Camargo was first to the rebound and squeezed a low drive under Guzan to tie the match at 1-1.

Besler, Dwyer, Zusi and the U.S. MNT will now turn their attention to Wednesday’s Group B match against Martinique, which will kick off at 8 p.m. CT on FS1, UniMas and UDN at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.

The CONCACAF Gold Cup is the biennial international championship contested among nations from the North, Central American and Caribbean region. The 2017 edition separates 12 teams into three groups of four, with the top two finishers from each group and the two best third-placed teams qualifying for the quarterfinals. The Gold Cup final will take place on Wednesday, July 26 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.