This was about as must win as you could get, and the USMNT didn’t disappoint. Very early on Panama looked confident on the ball and had some possession. But, it would only take 8 minutes for the United States to get on the board.
It started with a goal kick, a flick on header from Bobby Wood and magical touch from Jozy Altidore to spring Christian “Wonderboy” Pulisic. He would juke the goalkeeper out of his shorts, slotting home the goal at a tight angle.
United States 1 - 0 Panama
After that goal Panama tightened up a bit and started looking dangerous, just dangerous enough that you could almost feel a goal coming. They were able to spread the USMNT’s defense wide opening up the pitch - which worked to their advantage, by isolating and overloading Michael Bradley.
That feeling would go away 10 minutes later, as the U.S. found the back of the net again. A beautiful pass from Wonderboy on the wing to Jozy Altidore who would slot it home, putting the United States up 2-0 with a lot of time left to play. The scoring wasn’t over in the first half when Bobby Wood would be brought down inside the box in the 42nd minute and the ref pointed to the spot.
Jozy Altidore would take the kick, sending it’d straight down the middle as the goalkeeper was fooled and jumped to his left and that’s how the half would end 3-0.
In the second half (and most of the first) Panama played hack-a-Pulisic and from my perspective were actively seeking him out and trying to knock him out of the game, very CONCACAF-y.
The USMNT would put a lid on it in the 63rd minute as Bobby Wood would get a nice layoff from Paul Arriolla and bury the ball in the back of the net. He’d had several chances over the course of the evening and this was the first time he actually connected and found the back of the net.
And that’s how it would end the United States putting up four on Panama, and collecting all three points as they head to Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday. All the they have to do is put up a “W” there and they’ll be granted the third automatic spot, not having to have a playoff with either Syria or Australia.
Final Score: USMNT 4 - 0 Panama
He would start on the left of a 4-4-2 diamond set up, Pulisic at the tip with Arriola on the right and Bradley as the holding mid. He was active early on, doing Nabge things: retaining possession and making the smart passes.
Though he would go missing at times during the night.
Here’s his distribution/actions in the first (left) and second (right) halves.
Even though he went missing at times Nagbe had a solid impact on the match. He would track back, press when needing to and just look at his charts above. He had a great night on the ball. If it wasn’t for the disappearing act at times I would have most likely given him a higher rating.
Player Rating: 7.5
Nagbe and the rest of his national team cohorts are back in action on Tuesday as they travel to Trinidad and Tobago which you can catch on BeIn Sports or FuboTV at 5pm pacific time.