A new era for USMNT under Gregg Berhalter began with a Camp Cupcake friendly against Panama in State Farm Stadium, Arizona, providing the perfect excuse for a trip across the pond for the next instalment of our ‘Framed’ series.

January meet ups for the International team in the US are often referred to as Cupcake Camps, with the meaning behind it being open for debate, but it’s commonly understood that they don’t feature the same intensity as later camps, with fringe players and fresh-faced debutants being given the opportunity to get a run out. As a result, expectations from the home Arizona crowd – out in force – were not especially high; all they wanted was a win. To add to the feeling of disorder coming into this particular match, Berhalter was the fourth manager to be in place at the helm for the last four January camps. Consistency lacking.


But credit to the Americans as they completely usurped expectations. They absolutely dominated possession, stifling the opposition attack, and repeatedly opened up the Panamanian defence. Ultimately the breakthrough came from young Chicago Fire debutant Djordje Mihailovic, as he put away a shot from the edge of the box, timing his arrival to perfection. Walker Zimmerman and Christian Ramirez then rounded off the scoring in the second half to give the US a comfortable finish. 

While it has to be accepted that it was a severely weakened Panama side, you can only beat the team in front of you, as the old saying goes, and the USMNT did that and then some, with an experimental line-up coming up trumps for Berhalter in his opening match.


Photography by Grace Stufkosky for SoccerBible.