USA vs. Panama score, takeaways: Young USMNT impresses in Berhalter’s debut, Mihailovic scores winning goal

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The Gregg Berhalter era began on Sunday night in Arizona with the United States men’s national team earning a 3-0 victory over Panama in an international friendly. A goal from young Chicago Fire midfielder Djordje Mihailovic was the difference, as he put away a shot at the top of the box in the first half before Walker Zimmerman and Christian Ramirez scored in the second half. 

It was a solid showing from this MLS-based U.S. team, with five starters getting their first cap. These players having limited practice time together and with the big names such as Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie missing, expectations weren’t super high but they delivered.

Here are three takeaways from the match:

Berhalter passes first (open-book) test

What all U.S. fans wanted to see, first off, was a win. This game has been a long time coming, ever since that disastrous end to 2017 when the team failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Now, this was a game where you had maybe two or three likely Gold Cup starters in Zack Steffen, Michael Bradley and maybe Gyasi Zardes (because of Berhalter’s familiarity with him), so this was nothing close to what we will see when the matches truly matter. But the team moved well, played with confidence and showed an understanding of the shape Berhalter wants and the movement needed to get into space and create danger. 

After just one game, there are positive signs, but we must also realize this was a Panama team that had just two of the players that went to last year’s World Cup with 11 uncapped players. 

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Mihailovic impresses, and it isn’t a surprise 

Strong showing from midfielder Djordje Mihailovic. I had been hearing about his performance in camp this month and that he was really impressing, especially with his movement. And he looked good in this one. He knew where to be when he needed to be there, had a few good looks on goal from range and got the opener with an attentive run. At 20 years of age, he’s certainly on the outside looking in when it comes to getting quality playing time in the biggest of games, but he’s doing exactly what he needs to do — impress when given the chance, stating his case as to why he should continue to be a part of the team moving forward.

Oh, and that goal helps:

Nick Lima is one to watch 

The San Jose Earthquakes right back got his first cap on Sunday, and he did very well. In a position that is DeAndre Yedlin’s for years to come but the chance to be his backup still up for grabs, he impressed in a variety of ways. He was calm on the ball, knew where to move and did well to stretch the field and open up space. But his biggest impact came on the second goal. Watch his perfect tackle to stop Panama’s counter, and then his even better cross to find Zimmerman and double the lead:

This camp, these games, they are tryouts. They give players the chance to impress and prove why they belong or they don’t, and after just one game Lima did enough to at least stay on Berhalter’s radar for the months to come. 

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Relive USA vs. Panama

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