Over the past couple of years, all the U.S. soccer fans in Seattle have been asking hundreds of times when the U.S. men's national team will come to Seattle? Let alone for a match that actually counts, like the World Cup Qualifier. We didn't have to wait any longer as the U.S. made a stop in the Emerald City for their first World Cup Qualifying match in Seattle since 1976, and it was one to remember. On Tuesday, the United States defeated Panama 2-0 in front of a crowd of 40,847 at CenturyLink Field, the seventh largest crowd for a home World Cup Qualifier and the second largest crowd for a U.S. men's soccer match in the Pacific Northwest. Everyone inside the stadium (including myself) came in full voice all the way through the final whistle and the home field advantage paid off for the Americans as they now climb on top of the hexagonal group and their unbeaten streak at home in World Cup Qualifying play lives on. Just a memorable night all around for U.S. soccer.
The Americans had the first crack at goal in the third minute. Brad Evans, who more than likely appears to be a regular now for the USMNT, took the long throw in from the far side. His throw in was aimed towards fellow Seattle Sounder Eddie Johnson, but it was over his head and the ball bounced to Fabian Johnson for a left foot volley which sailed over the bar but not by much.
A couple minutes later, DaMarcus Beasley sent in a high lofted ball in the penalty area for EJ who whiffed on his attempted volley. Clint Dempsey stepped up and struck it first time but this one was high and wide by a mile but it was good to see the U.S. pouring pressure on early in the match.
Enough talk about the refereeing in this game. Moving on to the 36th minute of play, the Stadium erupted as the U.S. drew first blood......
Panama thought they had an equalizer on the stroke of halftime. Marcos Sanchez, who was released by D.C. United not too long ago, slid the ball to the top of the box for Anibal Godoy who poked the ball into the box for Luis Tejada to tap it in, but the offside flag was up, which means the goal did not count. Correct decision as well, Tejada was definitely offside.
In the 53rd minute, Geoff Cameron got Eddie Johnson in behind with a good long ball and the Sounders striker did the rest......
In the 65th minute, USA had a chance to make it 3-0 and put this match in bed. Jozy Altidore worked a nice give-and-go with Clint Dempsey and gave it a crack from about 30 yards out (don't know exactly, I don't have a measuring stick) which was saved by the goalkeeper Jamie Penedo. Clint Dempsey tried to follow up with the rebound, but his chance skipped off the grass, over Penedo's head and off the crossbar.
In the 79th minute, the Americans were once again denied by the woodwork. Jozy Altidore slid the ball for DaMarcus Beasley who sprinted all the way from his left back position. Beasley took a touch and then just when everyone thought it was gonna go it, the ball instead hit the outside of the post.
Panama's only threat in the match came a minute and a half into second half stoppage time when Luis Tejada played a nice through ball to Rolando Blackburn, but U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard came out and cut down the angle. Other than that, Howard wasn't really tested much in this game as the U.S. climb to the top of the hexagonal group with a 2-0 win.
|Cobi Jones (right) is the all-time caps leader|
in U.S. soccer history with 164.
Overall, it was a great night. Again this was my first U.S. soccer match that I got to see in person and surely won't be my last and I hope that the USMNT will be back in Seattle soon. More importantly, they got a big World Cup Qualifying win which puts them a step closer to booking their ticket to Brazil.
United States - Jozy Altidore (Fabian Johnson) 36'
United States - Eddie Johnson (Geoff Cameron) 53'
United States - Jozy Altidore (caution; foul) 56'
United States - Geoff Cameron (caution; foul) 69'
Panama - Marcos Sanchez (caution; dive)* 69'
United States - DaMarcus Beasley (caution; foul)^ 92'+
United States - Tim Howard (caution; time wasting) 93'+
* - Will miss Panama's next match on June 18th against Jamaica
^ - Will miss USA's next match on June 18th against Honduras
Panama - Jamie Penedo; Lionel Parris, Ramon Torres, Felipe Baloy, Carlos Rodriguez; Marcos Sanchez, Armando Cooper (Nelson Barahona 59'), Amilcar Henriquez (Gabriel Torres 78'), Alberto Quintero; Anibal Goboy (Rolando Blackburn 59'); Luis Tejada
United States - Tim Howard; Brad Evans, Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, DaMarcus Beasley; Eddie Johnson (Joe Corona 87'), Geoff Cameron, Michael Bradley, Fabian Johnson (Brad Davis 87'); Clint Dempsey; Jozy Altidore (Stuart Holden 91'+)
1. United States; 3-1-1 (10 points), GF 6 GA 3 GD +3
2. Costa Rica; 2-1-2 (8 points), GF 5 GA 3 GD +2
3. Mexico; 1-0-5 (8 points), GF 3 GA 2 GD +1
4. Honduras; 2-2-1 (7 points), GF 6 GA 6 GD 0
5. Panama; 1-1-3 (6 points), GF 5 GA 5 GD 0
6. Jamaica; 0-4-2 (2 points), GF 2 GA 8 GD -6