What to think about heading into United States of America vs. Panama Friday night

  • What to think about heading into United States of America vs. Panama Friday night

What to think about heading into United States of America vs. Panama Friday night

Pulisic, 19, pulled off the maneuver in the seventh minute at Orlando City Stadium. Yedlin's speed allowed him to push up in the USA attack, and his work with Rafa Benítez at Newcastle United has turned him into a much more astute defender with more tactical awareness.

The building, though, belongs to the Florida Department of Health.

How does all that look statistically, you ask?

In this article, I'll focus on CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) qualifying and, subsequently, the U.S. Men's National Team.

Once in, then the focus can shift on what kind of team the USMNT can bring to Russian Federation this summer. It could have ended. Some of their interplay Friday looked like the soccer equivalent of the pick and roll.

The United States head into the crucial qualifier knowing that gaining maximum points from both of their final two games - tomorrow's and Tuesday's against bottom-placed Trinidad & Tobago - will be enough to book their ticket to Russian Federation.

That goal settled stomachs as the United States eased to a 4-0 victory in a crucial World Cup qualifier.

Panama hasn't forgotten about that night.

Altidore described Panama as an organized team that moves the ball quickly and is good on the counterattack, so the USA needs "to be conscious of that" and not give the ball away in "silly places".

Johnson won't be in Orlando this week, but the team will undoubtedly be better with DeAndre Yedlin back in the fold after some time out injured, streaking up the right flank and thwacking crosses in.

Who knows why this didn't happen in September, when the United States lost to Costa Rica, barely drew Honduras, and pundits said Pulisic still had a lot to prove.

"On a night when so much was on the line - maybe everything - we played in a way where we gave no doubt", Michael Bradley said when it was over. Which of Paul Arriola and Darlington Nagbe is more essential to the US gameplan? Pulisic split two defenders and jumped in front of a slide tackle. The win was fueled by stellar play from Christian Pulisic, Jozy Altidore and Bobby Wood.

After just seven minutes, Panama blasted a shot wide and Tim Howard collected the ball before stepping into a goal kick, crushing it down the field.

Panama's boldness made the first game a wide open affair and to its credit, the Canaleros asked plenty of questions of the American defense and almost pulled a goal.

Pulisic acknowledged the beating, a fact of his life that has become common in games against Concacaf opposition, and shrugged it off.

Then his cross found Jozy Altidore's right foot like an arrow striking a bull's-eye, leading to a two-goal lead in the 19th minute.

Wood drew the penalty kick after he exchanged passes with Paul Arriola along a flank, broke past Felipe Baloy, spurted diagonally into the penalty area and was pushed down by Armando Cooper. The rout was on.

The Americans' slow start to the final stage of qualification has come back to haunt them.

All of this points to a favorable outcome when all's said and done in less than a week's time. "I don't think you really ever know what to expect", Christian Pulisic said. And it was Pulisic's ankle-breaking drive that created space down the left wing before his cross hit Altidore for a ruthlessly efficient finish and a 2-0 lead.

Some paperwork was getting filed here Friday, that much was sure.

But it wasn't. It was a new beginning instead.