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.
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.Read more
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 critical World Cup Qualifier against Panama, Budweiser Man of the Match Jozy Altidore hailed the “tremendous job” that Bruce Arena and his staff did to prepare he and his teammates for the crucial match.
“I don’t think we could have been any more prepared,” Altidore said. “In all my years playing with this team, this game was the most preparation I’ve seen from a coaching staff and I mean that in the best way possible. I don’t think there was anything they missed, and it made for a very easy job for us tonight in terms of what to expect from Panama.”
“This week we had a lot of meetings,” added center back Omar Gonzalez. “There were two or three meetings every day to make sure there was no stone left unturned and that we were ready for tonight.”
With every angle covered, the stage was well set for the comprehensive 4-0 victory which put the MNT in a position to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Tuesday in Trinidad & Tobago.
“All that was left tonight was for us to go out there and be the protagonist,” Altidore added. “I said it all week, that we had to be the ones to step on the field and make it happen and I thought we did that tonight.”Read more