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Clint Dempsey scores again as USA earns draw with Panama

By The Sports Xchange
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Clint Dempsey scores again as USA earns draw with Panama
USA's Clint Dempsey, right, and Matt Besler (5) rushes in to hug Gyasi Zardes (9) after he scored a goal against Ecuador in a 2016 Copa America Centenario soccer quarterfinals at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington on June 16, 2016. USA beats Ecuador 2-1 to advance to semi-finals Photo by Jim Bryant/ UPI | License Photo

Clint Dempsey scored his 56th career international goal and the United States held on for a 1-1 draw at Panama in their FIFA World Cup qualifying match on Tuesday night in Panama City, Panama.

Christian Pulisic assisted on the goal that pulled Dempsey within one of Landon Donovan's all-time U.S. goal-scoring record.

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With the tie, the U.S. remains in fourth place in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying.

Only the top three CONCACAF teams automatically advance to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. But with four of 10 final-round matches played, the U.S. (1-2-1) improved two spots over the last five days after losing its first two matches of the round in the six-team group.

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Gabriel Gomez scored to level the score before halftime for Panama (1-1-2), which is currently one spot ahead of the U.S. in the standings and in search of its first-ever World Cup bid.

Fifth-place Honduras trails the U.S. only on goal differential after losing 6-0 to the Americans in San Jose, Calif., on Friday.

After a hat trick against the Hondurans, Dempsey put the Americans ahead of Panama in the 39th minute on a chance that began when Pulisic pressured Felipe Baloy into a giveaway on the right. Pulisic cut past Baloy and the closing Roman Torres, then slotted a ball left for Dempsey, who finished into an open net.

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Gomez pulled Panama level only four minutes later. After Adolfo Machado aimed a long throw-in from the right at Torres in the penalty area, the ball deflected off an American defender and into the 6-yard box. Gomez reached it first, pounding his finish beyond goalkeeper Tim Howard from four yards out.

Panama had the better chances to pull out a victory after halftime. Its best came two minutes apart, when defender Tim Ream closed down Gabriel Torres' breakaway in the 57th before Howard charged off his line to smother Luis Tejada's chance in the 59th.

NOTES: U.S. MF Sebastien Lletget will miss four to six months with a Lisfranc injury sustained in the Friday win, Lletget's club team, the LA Galaxy, announced. ... MF Paul Arriola joined the team ahead of Tuesday's game, while D John Brooks, D Michael Orozco and F Jordan Morris were released from camp. ... In Tuesday's other CONCACAF matches, Honduras and Costa Rica drew 1-1, while Mexico won 1-0 at Trinidad and Tobago.

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