Friday, 20 October, 2017

Moment of truth for United States of America as Panama eye historic first

The USMNT Can't Afford To Lose Men's World Cup qualifying match to be held in Orlando Friday
Theresa Hayes | 08 October, 2017, 00:40

And the second came before the 20-minute mark, when Pulisic beat his defender on the left flank and curled a flawless pass across the Panama goalmouth for Altidore to tuck away for the 2-0 advantage.

All hope isn't lost, though.

Mexico has clinched a spot in the next World Cup while Costa Rica has already clinched at least a spot in the inter-confederation play-offs.

Wood showed his skillful side to score the fourth goal by collecting a nice cross from Arriola - whose bustling work and constant pressure added to the benefits of direct play - and twisted clear to shoot low inside the far post.

Entering the last two matches of CONCACAF Final Round Qualifying, the U.S. Men's National Team held its destiny firmly in its hands.

El Tri won only two of their 10 hex games in 2014 World Cup qualifying and yet at the WC, they got a draw against Brazil, the World Cup host, and made it to the second round.

"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. It's bonkers that the USA have fumbled their way through qualifying to the point that they need to take points from Panama at home in October to keep their chances above 50 percent, but here we are, facing a legitimate must-win game. They need two victories to guarantee passage, though a victory and draw might do the trick as well. He'd been physically and psychologically knocked off stride by Costa Rica and Honduras but unlike in those games he and his teammates converted early chances that were exploited. Then it would truly come down to the final day of qualifying matches, which are on October 10. "It's important that we continue to qualify for World Cups". Heading into the last game of qualification for the 2014 World Cup, Panama hosted the US, which had already qualified for the tournament.

Noted Pulisic: "We needed a lot of movement against a physical Panama team that was going to sit in and not make it easy for us".

A desperation tackle by DeAndre Yedlin on Alberto Quintero and fine save by Howard on Gabriel Torres midway through the first half kept Panama scoreless, but its forays forward exposed the USA defensive deficiencies with five attacking players and only Bradley anchoring the middle. Panama was out, and Mexico was the one that would face New Zealand.

With a win, the USMNT would all but punch their ticket to Russian Federation next year - and playing against an inferior opponent on American soil in Orlando, the Americans should win. They know full well this side is much better than needing to sneak into the World Cup via intercontinental playoff.

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

8 p.m.: Trinidad & Tobago vs. Perhaps they lost that edge when so many of them made a decision to play in the more comfortable MLS than fight for spots in the most prestigious Mexican league or European leagues. If Pulisic is world-class, why do the U.S.

Mathematically speaking, the USMNT still has a great chance to make it to Russian Federation (83 percent, per ESPN's SPI). A win would put the USMNT on the cusp of qualification while a loss would put them in a somewhat precarious position.

Defeat would have left the USA on the brink of elimination and even a tie would have raised serious concerns that its streak of seven straight World Cup appearance could come to an end. Right now soccer is growing at a rapid pace and the World Cup will be a great opportunity to speed up the growth even more.

Through World Cup qualifiers and the Gold Cup this year, Arena has alternated between his internationally seasoned candidates, Tim Howard and Brad Guzan.

"I suspect they're just going to be a handful because they have nothing to lose".

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