On Wednesday, New York City FC player, James Sands, and the United States Men's National Team faced Panama in the CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals. The two teams last met one another in March of 2022, and the US dominated their opponent, 5-1.
This time around, the USMNT had a mostly Major League Soccer roster, and Panama was having a solid Gold Cup campaign. After barely scraping by against Canada, it was clear the fixture would be a challenging battle.
After the game went into extra time, the USMNT and Panama drew 1-1, and then the Red, White, and Blue unfortunately fell in penalty kicks, 5-4.
James Sands and the USMNT were knocked out of the Gold Cup
The first half was once again a poor half by the USMNT, and while the second half was a little better, the lack of goals was disheartening to see. The team had 10 shots, but only one on target. As a result, the game went into extra time. This was the first time the US had back to back Gold Cup matches go into extra time too.
After both teams finally got on the scoresheet in extra time, the match, as mentioned, went into a penalty kick shootout... again. This time, the USMNT was on the losing side of the shootout, and knocked out of the Gold Cup.
Meanwhile, Sands had another solid performance in his fifth straight start of the CONCACAF tournament. The NYCFC player continued to do what he does best, for he intervened and intercepted Panama's passes and broke up plays. He even cleaned up some messes caused by his teammates, easily retrieving the ball when necessary.
Moreover, his successful passing percentage was at 100% in the first half. A few missed passes in the second half and extra time saw the midfielder go down to 85.7%, but that first 45 minutes was quite impressive.
At this rate, Sands is truly making the perfect argument that he can back up Tyler Adams as the defensive midfielder. In hand, that would lead to more call ups with the USMNT. And who knows? Perhaps down the line, as the NYCFC player continues to develop, he will be able to equally compete with Adams.
Nonetheless, the USMNT could not defend their 2021 title. Wednesday's fixture was not what fans wanted to see, and the lack of goals, similar to the Pigeons, is the reason why Panama is moving on.
At least there is one positive outcome: Sands is coming home to New York City FC.