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MNT Defeats Panama 4-0 in Crucial World Cup Qualifier

ORLANDO (Oct. 6, 2017) – The U.S. Men’s National Team attacked from the first whistle and utilized a first-half brace from Jozy Altidore as well as well-crafted strikes from Christian Pulisic and Bobby Wood to earn a 4-0 win against Panama in front of a sell-out crowd of 25,303 at Orlando City Stadium. With the victory, the USA (3-3-3; 12 pts.) jumps over Panama and into third place in CONCACAF’s Final Round of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup heading into its Matchday 10 visit to Trinidad & Tobago on Tuesday.

The U.S. signaled its intent five minutes into the match when Altidore’s low cross from the left found Bobby Wood at the penalty spot, before the forward pulled his effort just past the right post.

It took just three more minutes for the U.S. to hit the target, when a goal kick from Tim Howard was headed on by Wood to Altidore. The veteran forward played a simple pass into stride for Pulisic, who breezed through the Panama back line and rounded goalkeeper Jaime Penedo before tucking his shot over the line.

The U.S. doubled its lead in the 19th minute, when Darlington Nagbe lofted a ball to Pulisic in space on the left. Pulisic held up before powering past Michael Murillo and centering a perfect ball for Altidore who tapped home his 40th career goal.

The third goal came just before halftime thanks in large part to the hard work of Wood, who navigated through three Panama defenders before being hauled down by Armando Cooper in the penalty area, forcing referee Roberto Garcia to point to the spot. Altidore calmly lobbed his effort straight down the middle to give the USA a 3-0 lead in 43rd minute.

Wood was rewarded for all his hard work after halftime, when a nice combination with Arriola opened up enough space for the 25-year-old striker to bury his 10th career goal inside the left post in the 63 rd minute.

The U.S. continued to press the attack late and nearly gathered a fifth goal when Arriola broke through on the right, but Penedo came up big once again to push the ball past the right post in the 80th minute.

With the win, the U.S. (3-3-3; 12 pts.) jumps over Panama and into third position in CONCACAF’s Final Round World Cup Qualifying table, where it will almost assuredly stay heading into Tuesday’s Hex finale at Trinidad & Tobago.

Next on the Schedule: The MNT can book its ticket to the 2018 FIFA World Cup with a win at Trinidad & Tobago on Tuesday, Oct. 10. Matchday 10 kickoff from Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, Trinidad is set for 8 p.m. ET and can be seen live on beIN Sports and UNIVERSO. Social: Twitter (@ussoccer@ussoccer_esp); Facebook; Instagram; Snapchat (ussoccer_mnt)

Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Christian Pulisic (Jozy Altidore), 8th minute:
Just moments after Wood’s effort past the post, the USA would grab the early lead in clinical fashion. Tim Howard lofted a goal kick from the back that Wood rose to nod into the center circle. The ball fell nicely for Altidore, who touched into stride for Pulisic. At full speed, the U.S. attacker burst past the sliding challenge of Román Torres and into the box, where he rounded Jaime Penedo to the right and sent a sharp finish from a wide angle into the opposite corner. USA1, PAN 0 [WATCH]

USA – Jozy Altidore (Christian Pulisic), 19th minute: Pulisic returned the favor for Altidore 11 minutes later. The U.S. caught Panama out in transition, with Nagbe sending a great ball over the top and into space for Pulisic. The 19-year-old danced up the left touchline, toying with Michael Murillo before gliding past him and centering a pass for Altidore, who beat his mark to slot past Penedo.USA 2, PAN 0 [WATCH]

USA – Jozy Altidore (penalty kick), 43rd minute: The U.S. took a three-goal lead just before halftime. Continuously active throughout the first frame, Wood exchanged a pass with Arriola on the right, before spinning Felipe Baloy and splitting two Panama defenders to gain entry into the box before being hauled down by Armando Cooper. Altidore coolly stepped up and chipped his effort straight down the middle as Penedo guessed left. The goal pulled Altidore back into a tie with Clint Dempsey as joint-leaders atop the U.S. MNT’s all-time World Cup Qualifying goals list with 18. USA 3, PAN 0 [WATCH]

USA – Bobby Wood (Paul Arriola), 63rd minute: After a night of hard work, Wood got his name on the score sheet. The forward started the play by swinging the ball out to the right for Arriola, who cut inside and laid off for Wood. Wood took one touch and pivoted before slotting his 10th career international goal past Penedo and inside the left post.
USA 4, PAN [WATCH] FINAL

Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
PAN – Jaime Penedo and Román Torres, 22nd minute: The U.S. faced a nervy moment as a Panama throw-in pinged around the penalty box, before trickling out of the penalty area where it found Paul Arriola. Catching Panama out, the winger pushed the attack through midfield and slipped a through ball into space for Wood. The U.S. forward outran Torres into the area, but saw his effort saved as Penedo came far off his line. The rebound fell to Arriola, whose follow up attempt was nodded away by Torres.

USA – Tim Howard, 30th minute: Panama nearly struck on the half-hour mark. Following a spell of possession, Anibal Godoy collected the ball on the left and played it along the top of the penalty area for Blas Perez. The veteran forward kept circulating to the right, where Armando Cooper’s dummy allowed Gabriel Torres an open look, but his first-time attempt was well watched by Howard, who parried it to his left and out for a corner kick.

PAN – Jaime Penedo, 41st minute: Michael Bradley forced a turnover at midfield, before some fancy footwork from Pulisic allowed for a pass to Arriola. The winger pushed up the right before finding Wood at the top of the area where he held up and played to the left for Altidore. With an open look inside the box, Altidore couldn’t get a clean take off his foot as Penedo was quick off his line to smother the chance.

PAN – Jaime Penedo, 80th minute: Substitute Dax McCarty sent a nice pass through the midfield that evaded Luis Ovalle and fell straight into the path of Arriola. The attacker took an open lane into the box but saw his shot to the back post saved by Penedo.

NOTES:

  • The U.S. MNT is 12-1-6 all-time vs. Panama, 6-0-2 in World Cup Qualifying and 4-0-0 in home qualifiers.
  • Bruce Arena is 4-0-4 in eight all-time matches vs. Los Canaleros and 4-0-2 in World Cup Qualifying.
  • Altidore’s two goals took his international tally to 41. The brace also pulled Altidore back into a tie with Clint Dempsey as joint-leaders atop the U.S. MNT’s all-time World Cup Qualifying goals list with 18.
  • The MNT is 12-0-1 when Altidore scores in World Cup Qualifying
  • With eight goals, Altidore leads all active CONCACAF players in scoring during 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying and sits one behind leader Carlos Ruiz (Guatemala).
  • Altidore’s assist on Pulisic’s opener was his seventh in World Cup Qualifying, putting him into a tie for second with John Harkes on the MNT’s qualifying assist list.
  • Christian Pulisic opened the scoring with an eighth minute goal and added an assist on Altidore’s 19th minute finish. The 19-year-old now has eighth international goals and six in World Cup Qualifying.
  • While he has recorded four goals and four assists during the Final Round of qualifying, Pulisic has contributed in some way to 11 of the USA’s 15 goals during the Hex.
  • Bobby Wood’s 63rd minute strike was the 10th of his international career and fifth in World Cup Qualifying.
  • Altidore made his 40th World Cup Qualifying appearance, tying him with Landon Donovan for second on the MNT’s all-time list.
  • Altidore and Bradley made their team-leading 14th appearances of 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying.
  • Altidore (10) and Wood (4) have tallied 14 goals in the 10 international matches they have started together.
  • Besler and Omar Gonzalez paired in central defense for the fifth time in 2017. The MNT is 3-0-2 when they’ve partnered together this year and is 8-3-6 all-time when the two line up together as center backs.
  • Jorge Villafaña made his 13th appearance of the year, tying Graham Zusi for the team lead in 2017.
  • After missing September’s qualifiers through injury, DeAndre Yedlin returned to the starting XI and played the full 90 minutes against Panama.
  • Hailing from the Orlando suburb of Winter Park, Fla., Dax McCarty made his World Cp Qualifying debut, replacing Pulisic in the 57th minute.
  • The U.S. avoided being shown a yellow card during the match, making all players eligible for Matchday 10 at Trinidad & Tobago.
  • In order to get the gameday roster down to 23 players, defender Michael Orozco and midfielder Juan Agudelo did not dress for tonight’s match.

- U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Panama
Date: Oct. 6 , 2017
Competition: 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying – Final Round
Venue: Orlando City Stadium; Orlando, Fla.

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Attendance: 25,303 (so)
Weather: 78 degrees; mostly cloudy

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA                          3 1 4
PAN                          0 0 0

USA – Christian Pulisic (Jozy Altidore)           8th minute
USA – Jozy Altidore (Christian Pulisic)           19
USA – Jozy Altidore (penalty)                         43
USA – Bobby Wood (Paul Arriola)                  63

Lineups:
USA: 1-Tim Howard; 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 3-Omar Gonzalez, 5-Matt Besler, 15-Jorge Villafaña; 4-Michael Bradley (capt.); 21-Paul Arriola, 10-Christian Pulisic (13-Dax McCarty, 57), 6-Darlington Nagbe (11-Alejandro Bedoya, 79); 9-Bobby Wood, 17-Jozy Altidore (8-Clint Dempsey, 71)
Subs not used: 12-Brad Guzan, 22-Nick Rimando, 7-DaMarcus Beasley, 14-Tim Ream, 16-Benny Feilhaber, 18-Chris Wondolowski, 19-Graham Zusi, 20-Geoff Cameron, 23-Kellyn Acosta
Head coach: Bruce Arena

PAN: 1-Jaime Penedo; 2-Michael Murillo, 23-Felipe Baloy (4-Fidel Escobar, 46), 5-Román Torres, 6-Gabriel Gòmez; 19-Alberto Quintero, 8-Édgar Bárcenas (11-Armando Cooper, 26), 20-Aníbal Godoy, 17-Luis Ovalle; 9-Gabriel Torres, 7-Blas Pérez (22-Abdiel Arroyo, 60)
Subs not used: 12-José Calderón, 15-Érick Davis, 13-Adolfo Machado, 3-Juan Carlos Vargas, 10-Ricardo Buitrago, 16-José González, 21-Roberto Nurse, 18-Luis Tejada
Head coach: Hernán Darío Gómez

Stats Summary: USA / PAN
Shots: 15 / 9
Shots on Goal: 8 / 2
Saves: 2 / 4
Corner Kicks: 4 / 4
Fouls: 16 / 11
Offside: 1 / 3

Misconduct Summary:
PAN – Felipe Baloy (caution)                  34th minute
PAN – Armando Cooper (caution)          42
PAN Michael Murillo (caution)              48

Officials:
Referee: Roberto García (MEX)
Assistant Referee 1: José Camargo (MEX)
Assistant Referee 2: Alberto Morín (MEX)
Fourth Official: Luis Santander (MEX)

Budweiser Man of the Match: Jozy Altidore

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MNT Oct 6, 2017
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GALLERY: MNT Takes Down Panama in Resounding 4-0 Win

The U.S. Men’s National Team attacked from the first whistle and utilized a well-crafted strike from Christian Pulisic, a first-half brace from Jozy Altidore as well as a score from Bobby Wood to earn a 4-0 win against Panama in front of a sell-out crowd of 25,303 at Orlando City Stadium. Read more
MNT Oct 7, 2017

Preparation Proves Key in MNT's 4-0 World Cup Qualifying Rout of Panama

When it comes to building a successful team, there are many parts to the equation. As much as the onus is on players to show up and perform, the ability of the coaching staff to give the team what it needs to succeed is just as important. Preparation breeds confidence, a trait that was clearly on display Friday night. Following the U.S. Men’s National Team’s emphatic 4-0 win in the c Read more
MNT Oct 7, 2017

How Discipline Helped Avoid Discipline for MNT vs Panama

In the unforgiving rules of World Cup Qualifying in CONCACAF, a player who is issued two yellow cards through the course of 15 games spanning two years would receive a one-game suspension. Heading into the final two matches of the Hex that will determine whether the USA qualifies for its eighth consecutive World Cup or not, a total of nine MNT players were carrying a caution. 

Against a Panamanian team with a well-established reputation of being thuggish bordering on dirty, one mistake, one silly foul, or one act of retaliation could have meant suspension for the United States' most important World Cup Qualifier in 16 years.

Despite the constant fouling of Christian Pulisic, the violent off the ball strike to the head of Matt Besler by Felipe Baloy which required stitches, the absolute decking of Jozy Altidore by Román Torres and many other card-worthy incidents, the U.S. maintained discipline, composure and resolve.

As a result, the scoresheet contained a zero that was almost as important as the shutout – not a single yellow card issued to the United States, ensuring that the likes of team captain Michael Bradley, U.S. all-time leading scorer Clint Dempsey, World Cup veterans Alejandro Bedoya, Matt Besler and DeAndre Yedlin, and up-and-comers Kelly Acosta and Paul Arriola will all be available for selection in Tuesday night’s decisive showdown with Trinidad & Tobago.

Sometimes the best way to protect a teammate is to make sure you are on the field with him to help get a result in the games that really matter. Among the other big achievements against Panama, the U.S. MNT accomplished this critical task as well.

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MNT Oct 7, 2017

Jozy Altidore Delivers Another Big Qualifying Performance in 4-0 Win vs. Panama

Big moments require big performances, and the U.S. Men’s National Team received plenty of them in its resounding 4-0 World Cup Qualifying victory against Panama on Friday.

Chief among them were the two goals and assist that Budweiser Man of the Match Jozy Altidore contributed to the effort.

With the goals, Altidore became just the third MNT player to pass 40 career international goals.  It also pulled the veteran forward back into a tie with Clint Dempsey for first on the MNT’s all-time World Cup Qualifying goals list.

Another measure of a player's impact is the team's results when he is on the field, and here Altidore's contribution is even more substantial. The MNT is now 12-0-1 all-time when Jozy Altidore finds the back of the net in World Cup Qualifying.

“He’s such an important guy for us, captain Michael Bradley said about his U.S. and Toronto FC teammate’s performance post-game. "His ability to score goals, to make goals – the physicality and competitiveness that he plays with. His ability to be a good football player and make others around him better. He’s a complete package, so when it comes to the biggest games, he’s the first guy that you want there with you and he came through in a big way tonight.”

Always wearing the No. 17, Altidore made a personal goal of having the year 2017 be a big one for himself. The powerful forward put winning the CONCACAF Gold Cup high on the list, and his goals in the Semifinal and Final were critical in helping the USA lift the trophy for the sixth time.

For Toronto FC, he has already collected 13 goals and six assists in leading Toronto FC to both the Canadian Cup as well as the M.L.S. Supporters Shield this year.

“I said at the beginning of the year that this was a big year for me. I wanted to play in the Gold Cup, I wanted to win it. In my career, I’ve missed some crucial games for this team, and this year I wanted to be able to play some crucial games and step up for the team. I’m very fortunate that tonight I had another opportunity to play in a big match where we needed a good result and was able to step up.”

A dominant performance and three points in Orlando set the U.S. up to clinch an eighth consecutive World Cup berth on Tuesday at Trinidad & Tobago. While Altidore has five career World Cup Qualifying goals against the Caribbean nation, he’s under no illusions about the difficulty that side could still provide in an attempt to spoil the MNT’s party on Tuesday.

“These are the hardest games when you play teams that have nothing to play for,” Altidore said. “A lot of guys, some fresh faces, that want to prove they belong on the Trinidad National Team, so for us the job is to go there and from the first minute, make it difficult. We need a result. The job’s not done yet, and we know it’s going to be a tough place to play.”

Jozy Altidore’s 18 Career World Cup Qualifying Goals

Date

Result

Minute(s)

Round

Oct. 11, 2008 vs. Cuba

6-1 W

87’

Semifinal

March 28, 2009 at El Salvador

2-2 D

77’

Final

April 1, 2009 vs. Trinidad & Tobago

3-0 W*

13’, 71’, 89’

Final

Sept. 5, 2009 vs. El Salvador

2-1 W*

45+2’

Final

June 7, 2013 at Jamaica

2-1 W

30’

Final

June 11, 2013 vs. Panama

2-0 W*

36’

Final

June 18, 2013 vs. Honduras

1-0 W*

73’

Final

Oct. 11, 2013 vs. Jamaica

2-0 W

81’

Final

Nov. 13, 2015 vs. St. Vincent and the Grenadines

6-1 W

31’, 74’

Semifinal

March 29, 2016 vs. Guatemala

4-0 W

89’

Semifinal

Sept. 2, 2016 at St. Vincent and the Grenadines

6-0 W

43’

Semifinal

Sept. 6, 2016 vs. Trinidad & Tobago

4-0 W

59’, 62’

Semifinal

Oct. 6, 2017 vs. Panama

4-0 W

19’, 43’

Final

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MNT Oct 7, 2017

BRADLEY: "The guys came through in a big way" vs. Panama

Entering the last two matches of CONCACAF Final Round Qualifying, the U.S. Men’s National Team held its destiny firmly in its hands. After a resounding 4-0 win against Panama in one of the most raucous venues in M.L.S., a trip to the 2018 FIFA World Cup is now within reach. For the USA, a result in a high-pressure qualifier is nothing new.

“Every time I’ve been on this team, whenever our backs are against the wall we always find a way to perform,” said Jozy Altidore, whose two goals tied him as the team’s all-time leading goalscorer in World Cup Qualifying with Clint Dempsey. “I thought from the first minute we made it so the bar was so far in our favor that there was only going to be one winner.”

When the Americans have gone down in qualifying, they have proved time and time again that they are never out. The U.S. got off to a rough start in the Final Round, falling at home to rival Mexico and on the road to a strong Costa Rica squad. Its results from the first two matchdays in November left the USA in last place and with little margin for error.

When its next qualifiers rolled around in March, a new leader stood at the helm as Bruce Arena – the all-time winningest coach in U.S. Soccer history – set out to put the MNT on track. The red, white and blue put on a show, rolling Honduras 6-0 at Avaya Stadium in San Jose as Clint Dempsey announced his return to the National Team after missing months with an irregular heartbeat. The victory against Honduras marked Christian Pulisic’s first goal in Hexagonal play, and the then 18-year-old Borussia Dortmund star also notched two assists.

Pulisic similarly provided a spark against Panama on Friday night. From the opening whistle, the aggressive U.S. attack set the tempo and the tone for the match. Pulisic silenced any lingering doubts about the MNT in the eighth minute, when he netted on an incredibly tight angle off of a ball from Altidore.

“The attackers were electric. They smelled blood and went after it,” goalkeeper Tim Howard said. “The objective was clear when we came in here. We controlled our own destiny. It was exactly where you want to be on the last two matchdays. We took care of business tonight.”

As is the case when the team needs to demonstrate its resilience, the attack was relentless. After Pulisic’s opening tally, he assisted on Altidore’s first goal. Altidore then added another  on a penalty kick, while Bobby Wood topped things off with a stop-and-shoot chip in the second half.

Altidore led the team in goals during the CONCACAF Semifinal Round of Qualifying, a tournament circuit that provided another chance for the team to prove its determination. After dropping a tough 2-0 loss on the road in Guatemala on March 25, 2016, the USA faced Los Chapines again just four days later on March 29 in Columbus, Ohio. In the home contest, the MNT scored early and often. Dempsey opened things up with a 12th minute strike while Geoff Cameron, Graham Zusi and Altidore added goals to give the U.S. a dominant 4-0 victory. When the team has needed to make a statement in this World Cup cycle, the scoreline has done all the talking.

“We had to respond in a big way,” captain Michael Bradley said after the win against Panama. “Everybody knew what was at stake, and it was just about having guys step on the field and do whatever the game asked. Across the board, guys came through in a big way.”

Now it’s on to Trinidad & Tobago, where another American win would officially punch the USA’s ticket to Russia next summer for the 2018 World Cup. Just as it was entering Matchday 9, the U.S. heads into the final day of CONCACAF qualifying with its fate entirely in its own hands.

“The job’s not done yet,” said Altidore after his Orlando brace. “We need a result and we know it’s going to be a tough place to play.”

“It’s been a long road to put ourselves in this situation,” Bradley said.  “Ultimately, we’ve played 15 games in qualifying and now we’ve got a chance in 90 minutes in Trinidad to finish the job and make sure we’re on the plane to Russia. I think the motivation will be huge to go down there and do whatever it takes.”

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MNT Oct 7, 2017
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