Team USA started off the Gregg Berhalter era with a nice 3-0 win over Panama on Sunday in Glendale, Ariz.
The team featured a number of starters making their first appearance for the U.S., as well as LAFC’s own Christian Ramirez, who made his first appearance with the U.S. as a sub (We’ll come back to him in a minute).
Walker Zimmerman was a starter as well for the team, filling one of the central defender slots alongside captain for the night Aaron Long.
The U.S. was the better team in the beginning of the match, but could not finish their chances early.
The breakthrough came just before halftime, as Chicago Fire youngster Djordje Mihailovic slammed a shot on goal that took a deflection and found its way into the net.
In the second half, the US was again the better team, but Panama had a few chances, forcing Zack Steffen into a few key saves.
The US finally doubled their lead in the 80th minute, San Jose Earthquakes defender Nick Lima made a great tackle on a Panama counterattack, and then drove forward and played a perfect cross into the box for Zimmerman to head into the goal.
This was Zimmerman’s second goal for the U.S., and the play Lima made to make the tackle and play the cross was reminiscent of the play Wayne Rooney made last year against Orlando City, although the tackle Lima made was much closer to goal than Rooney’s was.
Zimmerman overall had a typically solid night in central defense, and the goal was the icing on the cake for his performance.
As I mentioned earlier, Ramirez made his US debut as a sub in the 84th minute for Gyasi Zardes.
Ramirez only had a few minutes on the pitch, but he made his impact by scoring the final goal in the 89th minute, as Jonathan Lewis made a great run down the flank and then cut the ball back to the middle for a nice finish by the LAFC man.
This was a tremendous moment for Ramirez, who despite consistently scoring everywhere he has been on the club level, has never been all that close to breaking through to the national team. Despite veterans like Bobby Wood and Jozy Altidore still being around, Ramirez should be in the pool for U.S. forwards as the team moves into this new era.
The next U.S. game is Saturday vs. Costa Rica in San Jose. Hopefully we see another good performance from the LAFC duo.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!