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Winners, Losers From Panama vs. United States

While not meaning all that much for the United States, the final Group A match was an important one for Panama.

Alejandro Bedoya (11) proved his worth in the draw between the USA and Panama.
Alejandro Bedoya (11) proved his worth in the draw between the USA and Panama.
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The United States had nothing but pride and momentum to play for entering the Group A finale, but their Central American opponents, Panama, had everything on the line. They win, a guaranteed place in the quarterfinal. A loss or draw means a lot of hopeful TV watching. As it turned out, the latter turned out to be true thanks to Michael Bradley's second-half equalizer.

Clearly not the ideal result for the visitors, but at least they took the all-important point from the region's powerhouse.

Here's a look at some more winners and losers from the match:

Winner: Alejandro Bedoya

The general assumption of Jurgen Klinsmann's lineup prior to the game was that it would be feature multiple players with a chance to prove their worth to the American side. That was clearly true when the starting squad was released, and no player had more to play for than Alejandro Bedoya.

While the US's outside midfield struggles became apparent through the first couple of games, Bedoya sat on the bench with an injury. But he recovered in time for Monday's contest, and Klinsmann stuck him in as the right midfielder in a 4-4-2 diamond formation. What resulted was a showing of Bedoya's clear skills and a reason for him to grab a more consistent place in the lineup.

The New Jersey native was all over the place, making passes and joining the attack, so much so that he netted an assist on Bradley's all-important tying strike.

There is a solid chance that he will get to continue to play, if healthy. Jozy Altidore will not be playing in the Gold Cup for the rest of the tournament, as he recently tweeted:

That opens up a starting forward spot that is most likely going to be given to Gyasi Zardes, which, in turn, opens up a new position on the wing. That battle will be fought out between Bedoya, Aron Johansson, Mix Diskerud and Graham Zusi.

From this recent performance, it seems as though Bedoya has a fighting chance at getting considerably more playing time.

Loser: John Brooks

Remember that guy that scored that late goal against Ghana last year in the World Cup? Well, that guy was center-back John Brooks, and he is focusing a little bit more on defense than anything else right now.

Brooks was picked to start in the middle of the defense with Ventura Alvarado after the backline against Haiti looked out of sorts for periods of time. They had been the pair that played against Honduras in the first game with Brooks picking up a yellow card, meaning that another would force him to ride the pine as a reserve in the following match.

Well, it didn't take long for that scenario to come to fruition.

The Berlin, Germany native drew the ire of Mexican official Roberto Garcia just a quarter-hour in, meaning not only that he would be unavailable for the quarterfinal (presumably against either Guatemala or El Salvador) but also that he had to be extra careful in defending the extremely physical Panamanian attacker Blas Perez, of FC Dallas.

Brooks ended up having a terrible first-half. His struggles were highlighted by his failure to mark Perez on the Panama goal. He got caught in no-man's land in the box, and the result was Perez slipping behind him and ending up wide open in front of the goal, where he tapped the ball past a hopeless Brad Guzan to put the USA behind in a Gold Cup match for the first time since going down 1-0 against Cuba in the 2013 group stage (they would come back and win 4-1).

It was a dismal 45-minute showing by Brooks and Alvarado. But it ended up being a tale of two halves for both, as Klinsmann must have given them a magnificent pep talk in the halftime locker room because each of them played a very, very good second-half.

But unfortunately for Brooks, he is unable to prove that he can play an entire 90-minute game the way he played the second-half against Panama due to his yellow-card accumulation.

Winner: Brad Guzan

USMNT goalkeeper Brad Guzan may not be the first person you think of when you consider the stars of contest, but quietly, he has been one in every match so far.

Guzan was designated as the starter between the pipes for this year's Gold Cup with Tim Howard continuing his post-World Cup sabbatical. The Aston Villa keeper is doing a good job of making everyone forget about the WC hero.

He continued playing well in the most recent game. He, like Howard previously, has made the goalie position the least of Klinsmann's worries, exactly what his job is. The goal he allowed was no fault of his, and he was spotless in all other aspects, aside from the time he dropped a normally-easy shot of a corner kick (which, in his defense, came from the body of Alvarado). The drop set off a flurry of shots on goal, but Guzan and his defense stood strong in front of the net.

The Illinois-native has done a terrific job not only in this game but in the other two as well, giving him the title of winner.

Loser: Gyasi Zardes

With this game being meaningless for the red, white and blue, Klinsmann had a chance to give his young prodigy Gyasi Zardes an opportunity to start at his favorite position: forward.

The LA Galaxy star has had to play at his less-preferred position of outside midfielder given that striker is such an overloaded position for the Americans. But in Kansas City, Zardes could prove to his manager that he is a viable option up front.

He was unable to do that.

Zardes began the game as the left striker, alongside fellow MLS player Chris Wondolowski. He was sloppy for much of the first-half; it was rare to see him take a good touch when he was even involved in the play.

He barely saw the ball for almost the entire game, and when he did, he didn't anything productive with it. When Johansson entered the game for Bedoya, Zardes moved down to the wing, where he didn't do all that much better.

The one moment of importance that Zardes had was during the buildup to the goal, in which he efficiently connected with half-time substitute Clint Dempsey before Bedoya fed Bradley to knot the game at one.

Zardes, despite playing the full 90 minutes, failed to register a shot on fellow Galaxy member and Panama keeper Jaime Penedo, and was flagged offsides once while only drawing two fouls and committing one.

All in all, it was a subpar performance for a player with such high potential, and, even though it wasn't costly for the team in general, it severely impacted Zardes's future chances at his preferred position.