Jurgen Klinsmann, Clint Dempsey hail first-time starter Gyasi Zardes

CARSON, Calif. -- Following his team's 2-0 win vs. Panama in an international friendly, United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann hailed Gyasi Zardes as having "something special."

Zardes, a Los Angeles native, was active throughout the match patrolling the right side in Klinsmann's 4-2-3-1 formation.

The 23-year-old's hard work paid off in the 37th minute when he intercepted a ball in midfield and then played a perfect pass through to Clint Dempsey for the team's second goal of the game.

"He showed certain tools that he had," said Klinsmann of Zardes, who plays for LA Galaxy in Major League Soccer. "Not only on his speed, but his ability to hold the ball and then to combine and make the assist to Clint was perfect timing. It shows that he has something special."

Zardes, who was making his first start as a U.S. international, was part of the team's January camp and was one of several players to put in a good showing there, including fellow first-time starter Miguel Ibarra.

"[Gyasi] is just coming into the program and trying to impress," said Klinsmann. "We saw in training that he has a lot of talent and great attitude and he's hungry to deliver. He had a very good game.

"Overall that's what the camp is about -- to find two, three, four guys that want badly to break in and we saw that happening in this camp which is good. It was a great three or four weeks worth of work."

Dempsey, who was on the receiving end of the Zardes assist, also had high-praise for his new teammate following the match.

"Gyasi works hard all the time and he got sharper as camp went on and made the most of his opportunities when he got them," said the U.S. No. 8.

"The through-ball he played to me was perfect on the second goal. [He] did a good job of running at the defence and I tried to create space for him by running to a different spot. And credit to him he got his head up and played a great ball.

"Along with Ibarra, they were two guys that came into camp and made an impact."

Of the goal, Zardes said he saw an opportunity to step in and take the ball on the counter and went for it. After that, the rest just happened.

"I saw Clint make an amazing run and I just fed him the ball because there was so much space," said Zardes. "I knew he would finish that one. It was open space right there so I just took a touch and used my speed.

"For me, if I see a little bit of space, I'll take it, because I know that field. That field is huge, so you can take a touch and just go in that direction. So I just tried to use as much space as possible on that field."

ESPN The Magazine's Doug McIntyre contributed to this story.