The USA just finished thrashing Panama 4-0 and the chances of World Cup qualification look much more secure for the stars and stripes than they did before kickoff. It was an energetic performance right from the start which saw Pulisic open the scoring 8 minutes in after some quick combinations with Wood and Altidore. Altidore got his goal 11 minutes later after a some great skill from Pulisic to get past his man and whip a ball in right in front of the goal. It was towards the end of the first half when Bobby Wood beat 2 Panamanian players before being brought down in the box the earn a penalty. Jozy Altidore stepped up to take it and scored with the cheekiest of panenkas right down the center of goal while Jamie Penedo was left diving at thin air. 18 minutes after the play resumed for the second half Bobby Wood got himself a well deserved goal after a nice turn and finish.
Overall it was a very solid performance. Going forward the team looked especially dangerous with Pulisic, Wood, and Altidore. They had lots of time and space which they won’t have against much better teams but the signs were encouraging. The defense was decent, getting another clean sheet, but it wasn’t always as certain as the scoreline suggests. There were a few times where it took a last ditch block, tackle, or lack of Panamanian quality to prevent the US from conceding. Panama were not very good on the day and that certainly allowed the US to play the game they wanted to but credit has to be given to the US for the way they went for it straight out of the gate. They knew the huge pressure which was on them coming into this game and they dealt with it. The US is a side that have always been good with their backs against the wall and winning these ‘must win games’. But now a huge amount of that pressure is off their shoulders. If they can go to Trinidad and secure a berth in the World Cup, all that uncertainty and criticism will be forgotten about at least for the time being, and it will be the last thing on anyone’s mind when the tournament kicks off in June.n
This was a huge day for US soccer. It is not secure yet but prospects look much better than they did 24 hours ago. For the US to miss out on a World Cup would be a huge set back to the development of the sport in this country so the team must go out and get the job done on Tuesday. But for now, we can all rest happy knowing that Pulisic is the next Messi 😉 … hopefully.