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USA soccer coach Gregg Berhalter says USMNT were punished by Tim Weah's lapse, singles out referee

USMNT Falls to Panama After Weah’s Early Red Card: Berhalter Criticizes Referee Decision

A tumultuous Copa America match on Thursday, the U.S. Men’s National Team (USMNT) succumbed to Panama 2-1, with Timothy Weah’s early red card significantly altering the game’s dynamics. Despite the setback, head coach Gregg Berhalter defended his team’s efforts and expressed disappointment over certain referee decisions, which he believes played a crucial role in the outcome.

“USMNT suffers a 2-1 loss to Panama in Copa America after Timothy Weah’s early red card. Coach Gregg Berhalter defends the team’s effort and criticizes referee decisions. Key insights into the game dynamics and upcoming challenges against Uruguay.”

A Rocky Start: Weah’s Red Card and Its Consequences

The match began with high intensity and early drama. Timothy Weah’s dismissal in the 18th minute for shoving Panama’s Roderick Miller put the USMNT at a severe disadvantage. The red card incident became a pivotal moment, forcing the U.S. to play the majority of the match with ten men.

Berhalter acknowledged the impact of Weah’s mistake but lauded his team’s resilience. “I know the result is really disappointing,” he said post-match. “I can’t fault the effort of the group, especially after going down a man. The guys dug in and we were close to coming out with a point but it’s a shame because there was more in this game and a silly decision by Timmy that leaves us shorthanded… One lapse, we got punished for it.”

A Glimmer of Hope: Balogun’s Quick Response

Despite being a man down, the USMNT showed remarkable spirit and briefly revived their hopes. Just four minutes after Weah’s expulsion, Folarin Balogun found the back of the net, putting the U.S. ahead with a swift response. The goal was a testament to the team’s resolve and tactical adaptability in the face of adversity.

However, Panama quickly capitalized on their numerical advantage. In the 26th minute, Cesar Blackman equalized for Los Canaleros, setting the stage for a fiercely contested match. The Panamanians dominated possession and created more scoring opportunities, pushing the USMNT into a defensive stance for the remainder of the game.

Decisive Moments: Fajardo’s Winner and Controversial Calls

The game-winning moment came in the 82nd minute when substitute Jose Fajardo scored, giving Panama a decisive 2-1 lead. Despite a late red card for Panama’s Adalberto Carrasquilla, the USMNT could not find an equalizer, leaving them in a precarious position in Group C.

Berhalter did not hold back in his criticism of referee Ivan Barton’s performance. He pointed out several decisions that he felt were detrimental to his team’s chances, including a lack of caution for Blackman’s collision with goalkeeper Matt Turner. Turner’s subsequent injury led to a halftime substitution, adding to the USMNT’s woes.

“We talked beforehand about the tendencies of this referee,” Berhalter commented. “We knew what he’s capable of and, to be honest, I think we played right into his hands and we made that decision pretty easy. Think about that. He knocks Matt [Turner] out of the game and nothing.”

Weah’s Apology and Team Dynamics

Following the match, Weah issued a heartfelt apology to his teammates and fans. He acknowledged his mistake and expressed regret for putting his team at a disadvantage during a crucial group stage match. His apology reflects the team’s accountability and the strong bond within the squad, as they aim to bounce back from this setback.

Weah’s absence will be keenly felt in the group stage finale against Uruguay, a match that has become pivotal for the USMNT’s progression in the tournament. Berhalter emphasized the need for focus and preparation, downplaying the must-win pressure but recognizing the critical nature of the upcoming game.

“USMNT falls 2-1 to Panama in Copa America, with Timothy Weah’s early red card and controversial refereeing decisions sparking coach Berhalter’s critique ahead of a crucial clash with Uruguay.”

Looking Ahead: The Uruguay Challenge

The loss to Panama leaves the USMNT level on points in Group C but facing a challenging task against Uruguay. Known for their physical play and tactical discipline, Uruguay represents a formidable hurdle for the U.S. as they aim to secure a place in the knockout stages.

Berhalter remained cautious about the stakes but confident in his team’s abilities. “I think we’re all getting ahead of ourselves a little bit in terms of how this whole thing’s going to play out,” he said. “What we know, the facts are that Panama’s going to play Bolivia and we’re going to play Uruguay. That’s clear. We don’t know exactly what we’re going to need from the game, but we’re going to go in with the intentions of trying to play a very good game and try to get the result we need to advance, and it’s really as simple as that.”


  • Daniel Davidson

    Daniel Davidson is a freelance sports journalist and reporter based in the USA. With 4 years of experience at ESPN, his expertise in sports reporting shines through in his captivating coverage. Now contributing to WaxMia, Daniel continues to make an impact with his accurate and engaging sports news.

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