USMNT on verge of World Cup qualification after 5-1 win over Panama
ORLANDO, Fla. – The U.S. Men’s National Team stands one game away from qualification for the 2022 FIFA World Cup after an emphatic 5-1 win against Panama in its final home game of this qualifying cycle.
Led by a hat trick from attacker Christian Pulisic in front of a sell-out crowd of 25,022 at Exploria Stadium, the USA has put itself in position to punch its ticket to Qatar with a win, draw or loss by less than six goals in its final World Cup qualifying match at Costa Rica on Wednesday (9:05 p.m. ET; Paramount+, Universo, Peacock).
Currently second in the Octagonal, the U.S. is now guaranteed to finish in the top four of the Concacaf World Cup qualifying standings. The top three teams qualify directly to the World Cup, while the fourth-place finisher will participate in an intercontinental playoff against the winner of Oceania’s World Cup qualifying tournament for a berth to Qatar. The USA has 25 points from 13 matches but has a massive edge (+13 to +3) in the first tiebreaker – goal differential – over fourth-place Costa Rica (22 points), which puts the USA in solid position to earn its World Cup berth on Wednesday.
The hat trick was the first for Pulisic with the USMNT, and he spearheaded an electric offensive performance for the Americans that included a four-goal outburst in the first half. Pulisic coolly converted two penalties after U.S. center backs Walker Zimmerman and Miles Robinson were fouled in the box during set play opportunities. FC Dallas teammates Paul Arriola and Jesús Ferreira added goals to cap off some dynamic attacking play in the first half before Pulisic added the exclamation point in the 65th minute with a lovely bit of skill, finessing through the Panama defense to put an appropriate exclamation point on a memorable evening.
After some very physical defense from Panama on early set pieces, the U.S. earned its first penalty nod when Los Canaleros captain Anibal Godoy slapped and then grabbed Zimmerman by the neck before slamming him to the ground near the penalty spot. Although play initially continued, a VAR review resulted in the referee pointing to the spot and Pulisic hammered the ball home in the 17th minute. At the end of the half, Godoy was whistled for over-aggressive play and Pulisic capped off the quartet of first-half goals with another well-hit finish in in stoppage time.
The U.S. attack also proved dangerous in open play. After the first penalty opened things up, the USMNT forward line of Arriola, Ferreira and Pulisic were dangerous in the final third, especially when combining with outside backs Antonee Robinson and Shaq Moore. In the 23rd minute, Pulisic ran down a pass deep in the left corner and was taken down from behind by a Panama defender, but not before playing a pass back to Robinson on the left flank. He swung the ball into the middle and Arriola skied high to meet the ball just outside the six-yard box, rising above his mark to loop a perfect header inside the right post for the USA’s second goal.
Just four minutes later, Arriola helped tee up Ferreira, his club teammate for FC Dallas. From the right wing, Moore played a pass to Arriola lurking near the six-yard box once again, and he spun around his defender. His first attempt to pass to Ferreira was blocked, but the ball hit Arriola’s foot and rolled back to Ferreira, who rifled a shot past onrushing Panama goalkeeper Luis Mejia.
Pulisic added a final goal midway through the second half. As midfielder Luca de la Torre continued to spark dangerous play in the midfield during his second-ever USMNT start, a nice interchange with Antonee Robinson set up the left back to place a ball to Pulisic inside the box. It took the Chelsea forward just three touches to beat three Panama defenders, nutmegging the final one, before slotting a shot into the right corner from close range.
While the USA jumped out to a four-goal advantage in the first half, things were slow-going at the start, with both teams struggling to establish a rhythm. Los Canaleros were chippy defensively and outpossessed the U.S. in the opening minutes. Panama nearly created an equalizer in the 20th minute when goalkeeper Zack Steffen ran into one of his defenders and was caught out of position as the ball bounced around the six, but the U.S. defense recovered to clear it out of danger.
Panama came out of the break looking to bring the game back within reach and midfielder Tyler Adams had to make a well-timed tackle to defuse a dangerous scoring chance from Victor Medina in the 53rd minute. Los Canaleros finally got on the board in the 86th, but it was far too little, far too late. On a free kick from 25 yards out, Eric Davis sent a nice ball into the box that Godoy headed past a diving Steffen to finish the scoring.
GOAL SCORING RUNDOWN
USA — Christian Pulisic (Penalty Kick), 17th minute: Panama proved to be physical in their set-piece defense during the game’s early going, but things crossed the line in the 17th minute. Panama captain Anibal Godoy choked and then body-slammed U.S. defender and his Nashville SC teammate Walker Zimmerman to the ground, and while Panama tried to hit the counterattack, the referee whistled for a VAR review. After watching the replay, he pointed to the spot, where Pulisic converted his first of three goals on the night to the top left corner. USA 1, PAN 0
USA — Paul Arriola (Antonee Robinson), 23rd minute: As the U.S. attack grew into the game, a well-placed long pass from the defense found Christian Pulisic on the run down the left side. He drove to the end line and played it back to Robinson outside the penalty box, where the left back sent in a booming cross to the center of the six-yard box. There, Arriola leapt above his marking defender and sent a looping header to the right side of the net. USA 2, PAN 0
USA — Jesús Ferreira (Paul Arriola), 27th minute: From the right sideline, Yunus Musah played to Luca de la Torre, who dribbled forward before laying it off for right back Shaq Moore on the run down the right flank. He put a rolling cross in for Arriola near the corner of the six-yard box, where the forward took a touch and forced a pass through a defender to Ferreira who was four yards from the goal. Ferreira hammered his shot to the top right corner past onrushing Panama goalkeeper Luis Mejia. USA 3, PAN 0
USA — Christian Pulisic (Penalty Kick), 45+4th minute: This time, Godoy took down U.S. center back Miles Robinson in the box, striking a blow to his neck and bringing him to the ground near the spot. Pulisic once again finished the job, hitting it past the diving Mejia to send the U.S. into the half on a high note. USA 4, PAN 0
USA — Christian Pulisic (Antonee Robinson), 65th minute: Midfielder Luca de la Torre took off on a gashing run through the middle of the field before laying it off for Robinson on the left wing. Robinson played it back downfield to de la Torre and the midfielder once again laid it off for the Fulham defender just beyond the corner of the penalty area. He sent a ball between two Panama defenders for Pulisic, who took a touch to spin past one and nutmegged another before slotting his show on the ground into the right side of the net from eight yards out. USA 5, PAN 0
PAN — Anibal Godoy (Eric Davis), 86th minute: Shortly after entering the match, U.S. defender Aaron Long got tangled up with Panama’s Alberto Quintero as he dribbled down the right side towards goal. The questionable foul set up a free kick for Panama from 25 yards out and Davis swung a dangerous cross to the penalty spot. As his teammates pushed towards goal, Godoy leapt above his mark to send a header inside the left post past an outstretched U.S. goalkeeper Zack Steffen. USA 5, Panama 1
- Tonight’s result combined with Costa Rica’s 2-1 win at El Salvador means that the USA can qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup with either a win, draw or loss by less than six goals in Wednedsay’s qualifying finale at Costa Rica.
- The USA improves to 17-2-6 all-time against Panama and holds a 7-1-2 edge in World Cup qualifying.
- The USMNT holds a 5-0-0 advantage in home qualifiers vs. Panama, outscoring them 19-1.
- Across its seven home World Cup qualifying matches, the USMNT went an undefeated 6-0-1 and outscored its opponents, 16-3.
- Forward Christian Pulisic’s first career USMNT hat trick included his 19th, 20th and 21st international goals and 10th, 11th and 12th in World Cup qualifying. His 21 U.S. goals tie for seventh on the all-time USMNT scoring list with Bruce Murray, while his 12 WCQ goals tie him with Eddie Johnson for fourth on the all-time WCQ scoring list.
- Forward Paul Arriola netted his ninth career international goal and second in World Cup qualifying.
- Forward Jesús Ferreira tallied his third international goal and first in World Cup qualifying.
- Defender Antonee Robinson logged his second and third WCQ assists, tying him with forward Ricardo Pepi for the team lead during this qualifying cycle.
- Panama’s goal tonight was the first conceded by the U.S. in home World Cup qualifying action in 445 minutes.
- Tonight’s Starting XI had an average age of 24 years, 237 days.
- The starting lineup also averaged 22 caps and 14 appearances in official competition.
- Head coach Gregg Berhalter made four changes to the USMNT lineup that played to a 0-0 draw at Mexico on Thursdayy, slotting in defender Shaq Moore, midfielder Luca de la Torre and forwards Arriola and Ferreira.
- Two of tonight’s lineup changes were forced by suspension as defender DeAndre Yedlin and forward Tim Weah accumulated their second yellow cards of qualifying during the Mexico match. Following tonight’s game, both are eligible for selection for Wednesday’s qualifying finale at Costa Rica.
- Moore was summoned to camp as a result of Yedlin’s suspension and Reggie Cannon’s positive test for COVID prior to the Mexico game. The 25-year-old defender arrived in Orlando one hour before kickoff at Azteca and joined up with his teammates upon their arrival at the team hotel on Friday afternoon.
- Tyler Adams and Antonee Robinson earned their 12th WCQ caps tonight, jointly moving into a tie for the team lead during the 2022 qualifying cycle.
- Pulisic captained the USMNT for the eighth time tonight. The team is 6-1-1 when he wears the armband.
- Goalkeeper Sean Johnson and the suspended Weah and Yedlin are the three players who did not dress for tonight’s game. Cannon remains on the roster but is unavailable for selection.
-U.S. MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM MATCH REPORT-
Match: United States Men’s National Team vs. Panama
Date: March 27, 2022
Competition: Concacaf 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying
Venue: Exploria Stadium; Orlando, Fla.
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Weather: 77 Degrees, Sunny
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 4 1 5
PAN 0 1 1
USA – Christian Pulisic (Penalty Kick) 17th minute
USA – Paul Arriola (Antonee Robinson) 23
USA – Jesús Ferreira (Paul Arriola) 27
USA – Christian Pulisic (Penalty Kick) 45+4
USA – Christian Pulisic (Antonee Robinson) 65
PAN – Aníbal Godoy (Éric Davis) 86
USA: 1-Zack Steffen; 2-Shaq Moore, 3-Walker Zimmerman, 12-Miles Robinson (15-Aaron Long, 65), 5-Antonee Robinson; 4-Tyler Adams (13-Jordan Morris, 71), 6-Yunus Musah (23-Kellyn Acosta, 46), 14-Luca de la Torre; 7-Paul Arriola (11-Gio Reyna, 46), 20-Jesús Ferreira, 10-Christian Pulisic (Capt.) (21-Gianluca Busio, 71)
Substitutes Not Used: 18-Ethan Horvath, 8-Cristian Roldan, 9-Ricardo Pepi, 16-George Bello, 17-Jordan Pefok, 19-James Sands, 22-Erik Palmer-Brown
Head coach: Gregg Berhalter
PAN: 1-Luis Mejía; 23-Michael Murillo, 4-Fidel Escobar, 16-Andres Andrade, 15-Éric Davis; 8-Adalberto Carrasquilla (6-Cristian Martinez, 64), 20-Aníbal Godoy (Capt.), 10-Edgar Bárcenas (11-Victor Medina, 46), 19-Alberto Quintero, 13-Freddy Góndola (7-Jose Luis Rodriguez, 46), 14-Rolando Blackburn (9-Gabriel Torres, 46)
Substitutes Not Used: 12-Cesar Samudio, 22-Orlando Mosquera, 2-Cesar Blackman, 3-Harold Cummings, 5-Jose Cordoba, 17-Ismael Diaz, 18-Cecilio Waterman, 21-Cesar Yanis
Head coach: Thomas Christiansen
Stats Summary: USA / PAN
Shots: 15 / 10
Shots on Goal: 5 / 2
Saves: 1 / 0
Corner Kicks: 3 / 2
Fouls: 23 / 15
Offside: 0 / 3
PAN – Aníbal Godoy (Caution) 45+3rd minute
PAN – Rolando Blackburn (Caution) 45+3
PAN – Éric Davis (Caution) 57
USA – Christian Pulisic (Caution) 69
USA – Aaron Long (Caution) 85
Referee: Iván Barton (SLV)
Assistant Referee 1: David Moran (SLV)
Assistant Referee 2: Zachari Zeegelaar (SUR)
4th Official: Jaime Herrera (SLV)
VAR: Marco Ortiz (MEX)
Assistant VAR: Ismael Cornejo (SLV)
Man of the Match: Christian Pulisic