Copa América: USMNT loses to Panama in chaotic, red card-stained stunner

If the USMNT’s debut at the 2024 Copa América was simple, its follow-up act was damaging, dramatic and chaotic.

It finished Panama 2, U.S. 1, on Thursday night in Atlanta. And it left the Americans likely needing to beat Uruguay, one of the tournament favorites, in their Group C finale on Monday to avoid elimination.

They played over 75 minutes of the game with 10 men after Tim Weah’s early red card changed the entire dynamic of the match.

For most of the second half, they appeared to be hanging on for a draw and a somewhat valuable point. But in the 83rd minute, Panama's José Fajardo broke the American resistance, and propelled Panama to a famous, euphoric win.

The game was scrappy, physical and CONCACAF-y from opening whistle to final whistle. It was an "emotional roller coaster," U.S. midfielder Tyler Adams said. It almost swung five minutes in, when Weston McKennie scored to seemingly put the USMNT ahead. But, upon video review, Tim Ream had been offside in the scruffy buildup to the goal, and VAR disallowed it.

Ten minutes after that, the game did change for good. As it heated up, Weah overheated. After a bit of jostling off the ball, he lashed out at Panamanian defender Roderick Miller with his hand, and caught Miller in the head. He was initially shown a yellow card. But referee Ivan Barton needed only one look at the replay on his pitchside monitor to change the color of the card to red.

Weah didn’t argue. As he walked off the field, he pulled his jersey over his face. He knew he’d erred. He later apologized to teammates, Adams said.

“Obviously, moving forward, we need to control our emotions in certain situations," Adams told Fox.

The red card left the U.S. disadvantaged for 70-plus minutes. Those 70-plus minutes, though, began with a bang. Folarin Balogun picked out the top corner with his left foot, and put the U.S. ahead.

But three minutes after the game restarted, Panama equalized, and the U.S. was back to square one — down a man, without a lead, and with more than half a game to endure.

For the rest of the first half, the Yanks wobbled, and scrambled to keep the score at 1-1.

In the second half, they essentially conceded that this would be a difficult game to win; so they slowed it down, and tried to shut up shop with a point in hand.

Head coach Gregg Berhalter made three halftime changes. One was for Matt Turner, who gutted through an injury after a first-half collision, but couldn’t continue after the break. (In fact, his injury might have impacted his ability to keep out Panama’s goal.)

The other two substitutions, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Johnny Cardoso for Tyler Adams and Gio Reyna, set the U.S. up to play the rest of the game in a deep, uber-defensive 5-3-1.

And for a while, it worked. The second half was more calm. It was tense, but less chaotic; for 30-plus minutes, Panama hardly threatened.

But then, as U.S. legs tired, Panama took advantage. When Fajardo's goal hit the roof of the net, Panamanian subs streamed down the sideline in ecstasy and U.S. shoulders slumped.

A late Panama red card — to Adalberto "Coco" Carrasquilla, who hacked down Christian Pulisic from behind — reduced the game to 10-on-10, and gave the U.S. a glimmer of hope.

But it fizzled with a few wayward attacks, and disappeared with the final whistle.

And just like that, in a group that seemed so straightforward, the Americans are arguably underdogs. Berhalter's job is probably on the line. And pressure, overwhelming pressure, is on the hosts of this Copa América.

  • FINAL: USA 1-2 Panama

  • 93' Freddy Gondola booked

  • 10 v. 10 now!

    Coco Carrasquilla gets sent off for an ugly tackle on Christian Pulisic from behind.

    The U.S. will have at least several minutes of stoppage time to try to find an equalizer.

    It probably should be close to 10 minutes.

  • 88' Red card to Panama's Adalberto Carrasquilla

  • 83' GOAL Panama

  • 72' Substitution

    Ricardo Pepi comes in for Folarin Balogun.

  • Flo goes close

    The U.S. is playing very defensive, but just had its first real chance of the second half.

    Christian Pulisic dances, plays Balogun down the left with a reverse pass, and Balogun flashes his curling shot past the far post.

    Still 1-1, 72nd minute.

  • VAR giveth, VAR taketh away

    Panama appeared to have won a penalty, via a reckless tackle from U.S. center back Cameron Carter-Vickers

    But, upon review, there was hardly any contact, and the penalty is overturned.

    VAR works well sometimes!

  • 66' Penalty overturned after VAR review

  • 63' Penalty awarded to Panama

  • Ethan Horvath passes his first test

    Five minutes into the second half, Panama's Edgardo Fariña rips a shot from 30 yards out.

    It was knuckling. Ethan Horvath, on for the injured Matt Turner at halftime, stayed behind it and batted it away.

    He has experience making heroic saves off the bench for the USMNT. He might have to make one or more again tonight.

  • THREE halftime changes for the U.S.

    Matt Turn is off, injured. Ethan Horvath is replacing him.

    Cameron Carter-Vickers and Johnny Cardoso are also on for Tyler Adams and Gio Reyna.

    That's a clear sign that Berhalter plans to shut up shop and dig deep for a draw. They'll play in a 5-3-1.

  • Halftime questions for the USMNT

    There are a lot of personnel questions entering the second half...

    • How long can Tyler Adams last? He's ideal for playing with 10 men, because he can cover so much ground ... but he's not 90-minutes fit

    • Will Gio Reyna be sacrificed for a more defensive-minded player?

    • Is Matt Turner injured? Can he last the 90, or is there a chance they'll have to use a sub at goalkeeper?


  • A bonkers, CONCACAFy first half

    It's 1-1 at halftime. To recap:

    • Scrappy, chippy, s***housy start

    • Weston McKennie scores, but VAR disallows it

    • Tim Weah lashes out at a Panama player and gets sent off

    • Folarin Balogun scores a banger to put the U.S. ahead

    • Panama almost immediately equalizes

    • More chippiness and s***housery

    • U.S. scrambling to keep it 1-1, both teams look capable of scoring

    • To cap it off ...

  • 45' Eduardo Guerrero shown a yellow

  • The Weah red card

    It got a bit lost in the craziness of the 15 minutes that followed ... but here's the angle of the Tim Weah incident that referee Iván Barton looked at and immediately thought: That's a red card.

    Does the angle and the Panamanian reaction make it look worse than it actually was? Maybe. But either way, it was really stupid. And Weah, after the video review, looked like he knew it was stupid.

  • 33' Robinson booked

  • A draw would be fine for the U.S.

    The USMNT can still win this game. But it's worth considering the context of Group C, and the implications of a draw.

    Assuming Uruguay beats Bolivia later tonight, Panama is the only team that could keep the U.S. out of the knockout rounds.

    So, this is a six-pointer. For the U.S., a draw wouldn't just be a point; it would deny Panama two points. And the only Matchday 3 scenario where Panama could beat the U.S. to second place in the group would be if Panama beats Bolivia, the U.S. loses to Uruguay, and Panama makes up a four-goal deficit in goal differential.

  • USMNT needs to settle

    The U.S. is scrambling a bit now. Can't keep possession. Defenders getting twisted and turned around. Panama has had multiple half-chances for a second goal.

    Down a man, the Americans won't be able to control this game like they would've hoped to. But they need to pick and choose their moments to keep the ball, and their moments to sit in a defensive block. This is unsustainable for 60 more minutes.

  • ... and Panama answers. 1-1.

    César Blackman scores for Panama. And just like that, all the positive vibes stemming from Balogun's goal are gone.

  • 22' GOAL USA

    Folarin Balogun puts one into the net from deep off the dime from Antonee Robinson!

  • Balo banger!

    1-0 to the U.S.! Folarin Balogun, what a goal, out of nowhere!

  • Tim Weah sent off!


    Tim Weah initially picked up a yellow card for some sort of contact off the ball.

    Upon video review, it was something between a slap and a punch. The referee took one quick look at the video, after VAR recommended he go to the monitor, and immediately decided to change the yellow to a red.

    Weah hardly argued. He knew what he'd done.

    U.S. will play 75-plus minutes 10 vs. 11. Big challenge.

  • Matt Turner goes down after a collision

    Panama's César Blackman just clattered into Matt Turner as Turner went to catch a cross, and the U.S. goalkeeper needed treatment.

    Bad collision. Ethan Horvath, the backup U.S. goalkeeper, is warming up. Turner seems like he'll be able to stay in, but it could be the type of impact injury that limits him. He seemed to feel pain in his right shoulder, but the medical staff was focused on his upper left leg.

  • Panama's player to watch

    Adalberto "Coco" Carrasquilla is the Panamanian player to watch. He's the only one in red capable of dictating this game a bit from midfield. The U.S. will be wary of giving him time on the ball.

  • An early U.S. goal ruled out by VAR

    Weston McKennie scored after a scramble in the box.

    But on an initial header from Chris Richards — which was saved off the post — Tim Ream, who was next to touch the ball, was offside.

    The correct call.

    Back to 0-0.

  • VAR review

    McKennie's goal is overturned. Still 0-0 in Atlanta.

  • 5' GOAL USA!

    Weston McKennie fires one in from close range and the USMNT takes the early lead!

  • 2' Edgar Barcenas takes a shot!

  • Almost go time

    The U.S. started really strong against Bolivia in the opener. It wasn't just Pulisic's goal; they played with a lot of intensity and ambition.

    Will it happen again?

  • ... and all eyes on the crowd

    Ticket prices and attendance have been another big topic of discussion since this Copa América began.

    At kickoff tonight, don't expect a full house, for a few reasons:

    • There appear to be plenty of tickets available, as of a few minutes ago:

    (Screenshot: Ticketmaster)
    (Screenshot: Ticketmaster)
    • A 6 p.m. start on a weekday, in a city always slowed by traffic, is far from ideal.

    • There's a presidential debate tonight a couple miles from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Traffic is even worse than usual. Many of those who did shell out for tickets won't make it to their seats by 6 p.m.

  • Tim Ream is locked in

  • All eyes on the 'ugly' pitch in Atlanta

    Atlanta hosted the 2024 Copa América opener last week, and the recently-laid grass field ... didn't exactly draw rave reviews.

    It was "a disaster,” Argentina goalkeeper Emi Martinez said multiple times after a 2-0 win over Canada.

    “The field conditions were very ugly,” Argentine defender Cristian Romero said.

    Nobody knows how the pitch will play tonight. But don't expect the same type of criticism from U.S. players. Mercedes-Benz Stadium is managed by AMB Group, also known as Arthur Blank's business empire. Blank recently donated $50 million to U.S. Soccer so that the federation could build a first-of-its-kind national training center in Atlanta. I'd guess USMNT players have been made aware of all that.

  • A familiar USMNT lineup strategy

    For the first time since the 2021 Gold Cup, Gregg Berhalter has named an unchanged starting 11.

    That stat is a tad deceiving, though. The U.S. was largely unchanged, but for one or two tweaks and injuries, at the 2022 World Cup.

    The precedent is relevant, because in Qatar, the USMNT seemed to run out of gas in game No. 4. Is Berhalter going down the same path again 18 months later?

    If the U.S. beats Panama, and if Uruguay beats or draws Bolivia, and if Group D results fall into place, the U.S.-Uruguay group finale becomes relatively meaningless — so that could be an opportunity for Berhalter to rotate and rest tired legs. But Uruguay is also the best team in the group; would it really make sense to shy away from the showdown?

    We'll see — if, first things first, the U.S. takes care of business tonight.

  • Stage is set for USMNT-Panama

    In what is clearly the biggest event happening Thursday evening in downtown Atlanta, the U.S. and Panama are set to duel at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

    On paper, it looks straightforward. By the end of the night, the USMNT should have a place booked in the 2024 Copa América quarterfinals.

    In reality, it's fútbol. Anything can happen. And Panama knows this U.S. team well. This should be a tougher test than Bolivia offered last weekend.

  • Welcome to Yahoo Sports and our live coverage of today's Copa América match between the U.S. men's national team and Panama. Kickoff is scheduled for shortly after 6 p.m. ET. Here's the lineup for the USMNT: