USMNT U-23s Beat Panama 4-0, Win Away From Qualifying for Olympics

by Deny Gallagher

The Olympics are getting even closed for the U.S. Men’s U-23 National Team.

Tuesday night the United States wrapped up a perfect group stage at the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament by beating Panama 4-0.

Goals by Jerome Kiesewetter, Jordan Morris, and Luis Gil helped end this one early in the second half.

The first ten minutes of the match provided entertaining, end-to-end action with the United States and Panama looking dangerous on the attacking end.

As the game grew older, the physicality of the match intensified — and by the 30th minute, it was Panama who was creating more opportunities on goal. The United States showed improvement in the shadow of halftime, as Gboly Ariyibi created an opportunity that was pushed just over the bar — the best opportunity for the U.S. to that point.

The second half saw a change in the USMNT thanks to the entrance of Jordan Morris and Jerome Kiesewetter. The difference in attack was noticeable from the opening minutes upon their insertion.

In the 51st minute of the match, the United States got a bit of luck when a Gboly Ariyibi cross was poked into the back of the net by Panama’s Fidel Escobar. The own goal broke the dead lock and altered the course of the match.

Less than two minutes later, some great combination play in the box led to Luis Gil finding Jordan Morris. With a light dump off pass from Morris, Kiesewetter was able to turn and slot it into the bottom left corner for the side’s second goal of the night.

The United States was not done with their offensive onslaught. The Morris/Kiesewetter connection struck again in the 56th minute. Kiesewetter received the ball on the right flank and played in a dangerous cross to the feet of Morris. The Stanford man made it 3-0 with a pretty back heel on the end of the cross.

Things would go from bad to worse for Panama 15 minutes later. On an impressive display of dribbling by Kiesewetter, the striker would be brought down in the box near the end line. Luis Gil stepped to the spot and converted the penalty with ease in the 71st minute to put this one out of reach.

When the final whistle blew, the Americans 4-0 victory became official. In the group stage, the Americans have scored 13 goals. That’s more than double Canada, who is second on the Team Goals Scored list.

With the win, the United States finishes their perfect group stage with a plus 10-goal differential, leaving them a win away from qualifying for the Olympics for the first time since 2008.

The squad will play the loser of the Mexico v Honduras matchup this Saturday at 3:30 PM at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. The match can be seen on Telemundo.

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