KANSAS CITY, Kansas -- Michael Bradley scored the equalizer early in the second half to give the United States a 1-1 draw against Panama on Monday, wrapping up a sluggish but unbeaten trip through group play for the CONCACAF Gold Cup hosts.
Blas Perez scored in the 34th minute to give Panama the lead on a hot, humid night and for a while it looked as if that would be enough for victory.
But after second-half substitutions Clint Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin energized the Americans, the U.S. finally began to attack. Alejandro Bedoya's perfect cross wound up on the right foot of Bradley, who poked the equalizer into the net in the 55th minute.
The draw meant the U.S. protected its record of having lost only once in 34 group games in Gold Cup history, but none of the hosts' performances -- including a 2-1 victory over Honduras and a 1-0 win over Haiti -- left coach Jurgen Klinsmann brimming with confidence as they head into their quarterfinal Saturday in Baltimore.
Panama, with two points from three games, must await the outcome of the remaining group matches this week to know whether it will advance.
If not, the U.S. will once again have crippled Panama's hopes. Two years ago, the Americans beat Los Canaleros 1-0 in the Gold Cup final. Three months later, Graham Zusi and Aron Johannsson scored in second-half stoppage time to deny Panama a spot in the World Cup in Brazil.
Needing a win to assure advancement, Panama pressed early. Luis Tejada was called offside in the opening minutes after putting a shot in the back of the net, and goalkeeper Brad Guzan had to make a spectacular save after a corner nearly turned into an own goal off Chris Wondolowski.
Panama broke through when Tejada slipped past Ventura Alvarado and crossed to Perez running between the center backs, and the Dallas striker chipped it in.
In need of a spark, Klinsmann substituted in Yedlin and Dempsey -- who had scored all three American goals in their first two victories -- at the start of the second half.
In the 55th minute, Dempsey took a pass from Gyasi Zardes while falling with his back to the goal, and poked it wide to Bedoya. He sent a perfect cross to Bradley, running from midfield, and the captain knocked it in.
Panama had a good chance to regain the lead in the 75th minute, but Guzan slapped away a shot by Miguel Camargo.