'The first half is my fault' - USMNT boss BJ Callaghan takes blame for shock semi-final Gold Cup defeat to Panama

Callaghan USMNT 2023Getty
  • USMNT lost to Panama on penalties
  • Callaghan takes responsibility for team's performance
  • Should have set his team up differently

WHAT HAPPENED? The US men's national team's journey in the Gold Cup came to an end with a surprising defeat against Panama in the semi-final. Despite their resilient fightback from a 1-0 extra-time deficit, through Jesus Ferreira’s equalizer, they fell short in the penalty shootout losing 4-5 to exit the competition.

Interim US head coach Callaghan took responsibility for the team's first-half performance, admitting that he didn't set up the team as effectively as he should have.

WHAT THEY SAID: “The first half is my fault. I didn't set the team up the way they should have been set up. We were able to make the adjustments at halftime and I was so proud of the group, the way they came out in the second half and the way they responded. So I don't have anything but positive things to say about how the group handled this match," he told reporters after the game.

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"We tried to remain true to our identity, we wanted to go out and press. Panama, they're a really well-coached team, they're really experienced, they've been together for a long time. So they were able to cause us challenges and in the wide areas, it was difficult for us to get to those long diagonals in the first half, and we expended a lot of energy. … We were just able to make a small adjustment defensively to get some more cover into the wide areas. I thought the guys executed that great, put in another great shift,'" he added.

THE BIGGER PICTURE: The defeat marked only the second time in the last 20 years that the USMNT failed to reach the final of the tournament. Interestingly, two of the three penalty shoot-outs that USMNT have lost have come against Panama.

Although Callaghan did not want to make excuses, he stressed that the defeat is a part of the process which has helped them gain "a lot of experience".

"We're not a group that's going to make excuses. These are all challenges, and each team has different challenges that they have to face, and we continually work and then we talk about how we’re going to respond to them. So for me, it's part of what happens when you are in the group stage and knockout games. You deal with a lot of different factors, and you have to learn how to deal with it, and we were able to get a lot of experience in doing it," he said.


Sands USMNT Panama Gold CupGettyJesus Ferreira USMNTGetty Images

WHAT NEXT? Following their Gold Cup defeat, the USMNT will have to regroup and analyze their performance to identify areas for improvement. They will be back in action in the next international window in September in friendlies against Uzbekistan and Oman.