USMNT Delivers All The Joy In 6-Goal Performance Vs. Panama

The USMNT defeated Panama 6-2 in Austria on Monday with braces from Nicholas Gioacchini (age 20) and Sebastian Soto (20) complimented by strikes from Giovanni Reyna (18) and Sebastian Lletget.     

Beating Panama isn’t the be-all and end-all in international football — unless you’re England, then you’re winning the 2018 World Cup — but it's the perfect barometer for how this USMNT (fielding its second-youngest starting lineup of all time) will handle itself come next summer’s CONCACAF Octagonal.

The early signs are more than promising, especially with a midfield three of Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams and Yunus Musah and the play of wingers like Reyna (and eventually Christian Pulisic) complimented by overlapping runs from Sergiño Dest and Reggie Cannon. 

There’s the large question mark of an undisputed striker, but the 20-year-old Kansas City native Gioacchini — who plays his club ball in France’s Ligue 2 with Caen — answered the call today with a brace in only his second cap, and Soto — on loan at Telstar from Norwich – jumped off the bench to make a late impression with two goals of his own. 

It was an awful start for the U.S. when, after just eight minutes, Alejandro Yearwood measured a deep cross with Reyna applying zero pressure. The ball perfectly found José Fajardo, who took advantage of Matt Miazga being absolutely nowhere and Tim Ream not being quick enough to cover.

1-0 Panama, and that section of USMNT support on Twitter that thinks they have the biggest and best soccer brains ever conceived had a field day.

But the U.S. responded 10 minutes later after Musah was fouled on the edge of Panama’s area — losing a contact lens in the process — and Reyna stepped forward for his first senior goal. 

The floodgates opened with two more goals in eight minutes. First, it was Gioacchini following up a Uly Llanez shot.  

Then it was a fantastic move involving Adams, McKennie and Miazga that was again finished by Gioacchini.  

Things got a bit unfriendly from there with a barrage of yellow cards for both teams, but the U.S. could’ve had a fourth shortly after the hour mark after Cannon’s pass in the area was obviously handled.

Gioacchini took the resulting penalty in search of his hat trick, but he probably won’t be taking any more penalties for the U.S.

Panama pulled one back in the 79th minute with the entire U.S. backline signaling for offside, but Fajardo lashed his effort inside the near post.

It didn’t matter as Richard Ledezma found Soto to restore the two-goal advantage.

The scoreline quickly grew unreasonable from there after Lletget was discovered on the edge of the six-yard box by Cannon. 

And then Soto scored in stoppage time off another Ledezma feed. 

Next up for the U.S. is a potential camp in December or January that will be comprised of mainly MLS-based players. Things get real serious next summer with the Nations League finals, 2022 World Cup qualifying and the Gold Cup. 

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