Starting XI: Zack Steffen, Sergiño Dest, Matt Miazga, Tyler Adams, Gio Reyna, Weston McKennie, Nicholas Gioacchini, Tim Ream, Yunus Musah, Reggie Cannon, Uly Llanez
Subs: Tim Weah for Uly Llanez (62’), Johnny Cardoso for Tyler Adams (62’), Richy Ledezma for Gio Reyna (67’), Sebastian Lletget for Yunus Musah (77’), Sebastian Soto for Nicholas Gioacchini (77’), Chris Richards for Matt Miazga (80’)
It was a bright night for the youngsters in Austria as the United States Men’s National Team showed energy and grit in a 6-2 victory over Panama. Nicholas Gioacchini and Sebastian Soto led the Yanks with a brace each, their first goals in a U.S. uniform, while Gio Reyna also scored his debut goal for the national team and Sebastian Lletget adding another.
The USMNT began the match with its second youngest starting XI in history, and it was the first starting XI featuring only European-based players since a June 19, 2011 Gold Cup group stage match against Jamaica. And that young group came out firing, pressing from the opening kick. They also showed some grit in the process. After picking up a knock from knee-to-knee contact in the 5th minute, Uly Llanez came back in the 7th minute to take a Reggie Cannon cross and one time it just wide right of the net.
A minute later, the USMNT had a lapse on defense, allowing Jose Fajardo to head home a cross into the box for the game’s opening goal. Panama had the USMNT on their back foot for several minutes after that goal, applying lots of pressure on the American defense. However, the team settled down and got back into the groove. In the 17th minute, Weston McKennie put on a dazzling dribbling display to go around most of the Panamanian defense, slotting the ball to Musah who dribbles past a couple more defenders before being taken down on the edge of the box for a free kick.
From there, the USMNT took control, pressuring Panama with some wonderful sights of skill. In the 22nd minute, Uly Llanez took a hard shot from the right side, but Panamanian goalkeeper Orlando Mosquera couldn’t hang onto it, and Nicholas Gioacchini was waiting to pounce on the rebound and hammer it home from the edge of the 6 yard box to make it 2-1.
4 minutes later, it was Gioacchini again, on a beautiful play that started with a Weston McKennie cross to a Matt Miazga headed pass back across goal to Gioacchini, who headed it home right in the middle of the net for his 2nd goal and a 3-1 USMNT lead. They continued to put pressure on Panama throughout the rest of the first half, with the USMNT maintaining that 3-1 lead at halftime.
The 2nd half began with Panama forcing the issue and playing quite well. In the 50th minute, a harsh challenge from Weston McKennie earned him a yellow card, but it was a challenge that looked much worse. The run of play favored Panama for the first 15 minutes or so of the second half, but then the USMNT started to earn more chances. In the 64th minute, Reggie Cannon drew a penalty when he flicked a ball off the wrist of Oscar Bethancourt in the box. Gioacchini stood over the penalty with a chance to earn a hat trick, but a poorly taken penalty was easily saved by Mosquera to keep it 3-1.
Panama then resulted to some chippy play, bringing some of what we have come to expect in Concacaf play. In the 79th minute, off a Tim Weah miss, Panama went right back down and Jose Fajardo got behind the defense to finish for his 2nd goal to make it 3-2 USMNT.
That was the closest that Panama were able to get, as the USMNT in the final 13 minutes of the game put on a scoring display and opened the floodgates as it became a Sebastian party. Sebastian Soto, who had checked into the match 6 minutes earlier, scored in the 83rd minute off a Richy Ledezma cross to make it 4-2. 4 minutes later, Sebastian Lletget, who also entered the game alongside Soto in the 77th minute, headed a Reggie Cannon cross into the right side of the net to make it 5-2. In the 2nd minute of stoppage time, Soto completed the scoring with another goal to complete his brace and make it 6-2 USMNT, which was the final score.
Should this be the final match in 2020 for the USMNT, they went out on a high note. There were only a couple defensive lapses, that led to both of Panama’s goals, but the USMNT showed an incredible scoring display, including several headers, that excited fans across the country. It feels good to feel good about the USMNT again, and they gave us several reasons today why we can continue to be excited about what’s to come for this young group.