USA vs. Panama – Football Match Report – March 27, 2022

The United States men’s national team failed to confirm their spot at this year’s World Cup after Costa Rica’s win in El Salvador earlier in the day, but their 5-1 win over Panama in Orlando, Fla. on Sunday night put them on the brink Qatar 2022 qualifying abyss.

Christian Pulisic scored his first hat-trick of his career with the national team, and further goals from Paul Arriola and Jesus Ferreira gave the Americans a one-sided result that eliminated Panama from contention for a place in Qatar. With 25 points and second in CONCACAF’s final qualifying table, the USA would have to suffer a six-goal defeat in Costa Rica on Wednesday to deny automatic qualification and advance to the play-offs against winners Oceania.

Despite mathematical possibilities, American players unfurled a red and blue banner at the end of the game that said “QUALIFIED” in bold white letters.

“We know we’re not there yet, despite what the banner said,” said US coach Gregg Berhalter.

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The USA were awarded a penalty in the 15th minute as Walker Zimmerman and Anibal Godoy wrestled in the Panama box. After a VAR check, it was obvious that Godoy’s hands caught Zimmerman’s face and after Zimmerman fell onto the pitch, Pulisic’s cross caught Godoy’s arm. The Chelsea talisman and US captain confidently converted the subsequent penalty that evening.

“I think because of the trip,” said Berhalter about the award of the captain’s armband to Pulisic. “They have a guy who’s been there before. He was on the field when we didn’t qualify. “

Six minutes later, the hosts doubled their lead. Antonee Robinson deflected a teasing ball from the left flank and the 1.60-metre Arriola rose highest of two Panamanian defenders to flick a header into the far corner with a glance.

By the 27th minute, the lead had increased to 3-0. A series of changes from Arriola, Luca de la Torre and Shaq Moore eventually resulted in a loose ball that found Ferreira’s feet in the six-yard box and the FC Dallas striker coolly punched the American’s third home.

Panama captain Godoy conceded a second penalty in the second minute of first-half injury time. The Nashville SC midfielder had slapped Miles Robinson in the face with an arm, although contact between the two seemed minimal as they jostled for position, and Pulisic converted his second from the penalty spot before the teams went to the dressing room.

Twenty minutes into the second half, Pulisic completed his hat-trick and extended the Americans’ lead to five. The US number 10 showed impressive ball control to outsmart two Panama defenders, repelling a De la Torre cross before passing Luis Mejia.

Godoy scored a consolation goal for the visitors in the 86th minute when he caught Eric Davis’ cross and headed out of Zack Steffen’s reach.

The USMNT handles that ticos in the Costa Rican capital of San Jose on Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET.

“We honestly [will] approach it like any other game,” said Pulisic. “We will prepare exactly as we would if we needed a win.

“I just really want to play in a World Cup and so does this team.

“I’m just really happy that we’re in a good position to do that and finish the job.” USA vs. Panama – Football Match Report – March 27, 2022

Joel McCord

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