The U.S. Men’s National Team used goals from debutants Djordje Mihailovic and Christian Ramirez, along with one from Walker Zimmerman to begin its new era under head coach Gregg Berhalter with a 3-0 win against Panama at State Farm Stadium. With the result, the USA moves to 13-1-6 all-time against Los Canaleros.
Making his own debut on the touchline, Berhalter ran out a starting XI with five players making their first senior team appearance, tying a record previously set on Sept. 3, 1992 against Canada. A textbook counter-attack after a turnover at midfield led to debutant Corey Baird setting up Mihailovic for the opening goal in the 40th minute. On the other side of halftime, fellow first-timer Nick Lima’s alert cross found the head of Walker Zimmerman in the 80th minute, before substitute Jonathan Lewis connected with another debutante, Christian Ramirez to close the scoring in the 89th minute.
Before the opening strike came, the USA showed progress in executing upon the three weeks of learning and training in Berhalter’s new style of play, improving as the half went on.
In the eighth minute, an eight-pass sequence culminated when Cristian Roldan switched the field for Jeremy Ebobisse on the left. The debutant winger swung a cross in for Gyasi Zardes who nodded his open look just over the bar.
Roldan continued to be a catalyst for danger in the 25th minute when his cross from the right was headed away by Panama captain Fidel Escobar, only to be nodded back into the area by Baird. Zardes received the ball and played back for Baird, but the attacker pulled his first-time effort just past the right post. A minute later, Roldan, Baird and Zardes combined again, this time providing a pass to Lima, but he also pulled a first-time blast wide of the post.
Then, Mihailovic’s 40th-minute goal made the 20-year-old midfielder the 52nd MNT player to score in his debut.
Making three halftime substitutions, Panama’s best chance came in the 56th minute when Abdiel Arroyo’s deflected shot fell for Edson Samms on the left where his quick effort was pushed past the right post and out for a corner kick by Zack Steffen.
Playing to impress until the final whistle, the USA grabbed a second goal when Lima won a tackle to prevent a counter-attack after a corner kick before playing a picture-perfect cross into the area for Zimmerman. The tall center back rose above the rest to nod home his second international goal in the 80th minute.
Two more first-timers got in on the action just before full-time as Jonathan Lewis did well to break free on the left and center the ball for fellow substitute Ramirez, leaving the striker with an easy tap-in to close the scoring in the 89th minute.
The MNT closes out its month-long camp against regional foe Costa Rica on Saturday, Feb. 2 at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, Calif. Kickoff for USA-Costa Rica is set for 3:30 p.m. ET, with the match to be broadcast on FOX, UniMas and UDN.