The US Mens National team went into their World Cup qualifier Friday night needing a win. They got their win, and then some! USA recorded a touchdown against Honduras; tying their biggest margin of victory in a hexagonal match. This win showed that: Coach Bruce Arena knows how to right the USMNT ship, Bradley and Pulisic will run this team moving forward, Clint Dempsey is back, and Christian Pulisic is ready to be a consistent starter. USA jumped from last place to fourth in this match, going from a -5 goal differential to a +1 in 60 minutes of one match. Let’s look the success and progress this win has given the US Mens National team.
And with a 6-0 win, #USMNT are back in he swing of things! They play @ Panama on Tuesday. Need another strong performance to be #WC2018Bound pic.twitter.com/IH70lHXn0x
— Tim Lovenguth (@Tim_Lovenguth) March 25, 2017
Arena is driven to create a competitor:
The US National team was in turmoil in November. Two loses in the most important round of World Cup qualifying; one too biggest rivals, Mexico, on home soil, and another in Costa Rica 4-0. The start was enough to force ex-coach Jurgen Klinsmann out, and bring Bruce Arena back to the national team. His first real games to coach are these World Cup qualifiers, and he hit the first one out of the park.
#USMNT XI: 1-Howard, 2-Villafaña, 3-Gonzalez, 4-Bradley (C), 6-Brooks, 8-Dempsey, 9-Lletget, 10-Pulisic, 15-Nagbe, 17-Altidore, 20-Cameron pic.twitter.com/kS0T7qf3vU
— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) March 25, 2017
This lineup dominated Honduras, and it was all because of how Arena structured his team. The 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield helped the US’s midfield control the game versus Honduras, and will do the same in future matches.
Central Midfield is key:
Bradley will be the ball winner in front of the back four, and the appointed Pulisic is the playmaker at the 10 spot. These two dominated the middle of the park on Friday night, and the rest of the team followed suit by defending and attacking the proper spots. The movement of the entire team was dictated by Bradly and Pulisic, and it worked to perfection. Bedoya and Nagbe on the wings tuck in and help pressure the ball when on defense, and spread the field when going forward. This correlates with Bradly and Pulisic movements, help stop the attack when Bradley steps to pressure, and when Bradley and Pulisic move forward they spread.
Altidore and Dempsey’s spacing and attacking play was also dictated by the central midfielders; Altidore dropped to help pressure the opposing attack when extra help was needed, and both attackers pushed forward once USA won the ball. This led to many scoring chances.
Clint Dempsey is back:
Dempsey showed his dominance last night scoring a hat-trick in his return to the national team. His first goal was a lovely play from Pulisic that played Dempsey through. Dempsey muscled a defender and put a shot on net, while he was falling, for his first goal. His second was also a ball from Pulisic that put Dempsey through. This time Dempsey ran past the on-rushing keeper to put another one in the net. The third goal was his best. The US won a free kick, and Dempsey stepped over it. He hit a wonder-strike that went over the keeper into the net, heres video of it:
Pulisic is a crucial starter:
The fate of the US’s attack going forward is at the feet of an 18-year-old kid from Hershey, PA. Pulisic has been a crucial playmaker for German power house Borussia Dortmund for the past few months, and now he’s taking his talent to USMNT. His goal and two assists propelled USA agaisnt Honduras. He was the reason they scored first Friday night. His shot ricocheted to the path of Lletget who gave US their first goal. Pulisic was outstanding, and had a man of the match effort. Which is considerable seeing as Dempsey got a hat-trick on his return to the national team. Pulisic, Dempsey and Altidore, are a three-headed monster leading US’s attack. They will do this all the way to Russia 2018, if they click the way they did Friday night.
This silky smooth goal plus two assists made for another dazzling @cpulisic_10 performance.
More: https://t.co/IW91akFw0C pic.twitter.com/q9HxgZ33Mj
— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) March 25, 2017
What’s to expect vs Panama on Tuesday?
USA is not done this round of World Cup qualifying yet, they play at Panama Tuesday night. Panama lost on Friday, to Trinidad and Tobago; they also have only scored once through three Hexagonal matches. While their scoring has been low, thy also have kept the ball out of the net. They only have let in one goal, to Trinidad and Tobago, but have kept clean sheets; including keeping Hex leaders, Mexico, scoreless during their last home match. USA will come to Panama City riding high, but will need to be cautious of the stingy defense that awaits them.
USA will need to approach the game the same way they approached Honduras. Playing well in the middle of the field, and having their wide players adjust to the central midfielders movements. If they can do this they should be able to get another crucial win; one that will put them in above Panama in a good position moving forward. A win puts USA in one of the three automatic qualifying spots for Russia 2018. Seeing as the next round of qualifiers aren’t until June, USA will want to get any advantage they can over the five other countries in their group.
USA takes on Panama Tuesday night 10:00PM EST on beIN Sports. I expect USMNT to line up the same way, but with a replacement for Lletget:
Howard; Villafana, Brooks, Gonzalez, Cameron; Nagbe, Bradley, Bedoya, Pulisic; Dempsey, Altidore.
Will the US be able to complete a major comeback through two World Cup qualifiers? Check Philly Sports Network after the match for a recap and a look ahead to June’s qualifiers. Until then, peace out USMNT fans.