The US men's national team kicked off the Gregg Berhalter era with a promising victory on Sunday night, dominating Panama in a 3-0 friendly win at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona to give the program's new head coach a positive debut.
Chicago Fire Homegrown Djordje Mihailovic opened the scoring with a goal on his international debut, hitting paydirt with a deflected finish to give the home side a 1-0 halftime lead after a dynamic, proactive start from the USMNT. Goalkeeper Zack Steffen made a sterling save on Edson Samms a few minutes into the second stanza to keep Los Canaleros scoreless.
Center back Walker Zimmerman doubled the advantage late on with a thumping header made possible by a fine tackle and pinpoint deep delivery from fullback Nick Lima, himself another bright debutant. Substitute Christian Ramirez tacked on a last-gasp exclamation point with a simple point-blank tap-in after fellow sub Jonathan Lewis surged clear down the left channel and found him with a centering pass.
- 40' - USA - Djordje Mihailovic
- 80' - USA - Walker Zimmerman
- 89' - USA - Christian Ramirez
- THE BIG PICTURE: Yes, it's just a friendly and Panama's squad was in some ways even greener than the USMNT. Still, fans eager to turn a page on the pain and struggle of the past two years were given reason for optimism as Berhalter's side showed aggression, cohesion and tactical cleverness in executing a hybrid 3-5-2/4-4-2 shape.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: The opening goal rewarded the US for their strong start to the game and provided a delirious start to an international career for young Mihailovic, who suffered a torn ACL just 15 months ago.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Lima and Zimmerman caught the eye, but this honor has to go to Mihailovic, the 20-year-old who could become a crown jewel for the Fire.
- USA: Saturday, February 2 vs Costa Rica (1:30 PM MT | FOX, UniMás, UDN)