Watch: Christian Pulisic sets up Clint Dempsey for USA's goal in draw vs. Panama
On the heels of Friday's 6-0 rout of Honduras, the U.S. men's national team settled for one more World Cup qualifying point, playing Panama to a 1-1 draw Tuesday night. Clint Dempsey scored the USA's goal off an assist from Christian Pulisic, only to have it answered soon after by Gabriel Gomez just before halftime.
The U.S. was forced to make a number of changes to its roster prior to the game, with Paul Arriola added while Sebastian Lletget, Jordan Morris, John Brooks and Michael Orozco were released due to injury and illness.
Making matters worse for the U.S., Geoff Cameron was out for the night with a reported upper leg strain, pressing Graham Zusi into action at right back. That surely made Panama fans squirm, given it was Zusi's goal that ended Panama's hopes of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.
The U.S. didn't enjoy the quick attacking start it did vs. Honduras, finding itself in a chippy game that resembled many a CONCACAF road qualifier. Pulisic found himself on the harsh side of a number of fouls, taking the brunt of the abuse in the early going.
Panama nearly found a breakthrough in the 33rd minute through Alberto Quintero, who shook Zusi and Jermaine Jones to create space inside the area. He fired right at Tim Howard, though, who made a strong save to parry away the danger.
Pulisic got his revenge for the physical play, roasting both of Panama's center backs in the box. His hold up play and composure to evade Felipe Baloy and then beat Roman Torres allowed Dempsey to get into position to score, and the 18-year-old found him with a pinpoint set-up to the doorstep. The goal brought Dempsey within one of Landon Donovan's all-time USMNT goals mark, which is 57.
The lead was short lived, however. The U.S. failed to clear off a long throw-in from Adolfo Machado, and Gabriel Gomez equalized with a powerful finish from close range, sending the game into halftime all even at 1-1.
Pulisic was denied of a go-ahead strike in the early going in the second half after being set up by left back Jorge Villafana. Pulisic's volley off the cross from the left was goal-bound, but Baloy came through with a diving block to prevent it from going on target.
On the other end, Howard came up with a massive save from point-blank range on Luis Tejada, stuffing the ball between his legs after Tejada was first to Torres's knockdown header.
Howard was called upon again in the 79th minute, smothering Anibal Godoy's speculative shot from long range.
The U.S. resumes qualifying in June, when it hosts Trinidad & Tobago and then goes to Mexico to face its rival.