Friday’s soccer news starts with the USMNT collecting three points in a 2-0 shutout of Jamaica in Austin. Game two of the October window is set for Sunday in Panama City (6pm ET – Paramount+) with the same expectation. Three more points, with the United States now top of the Octagonal table.
Panama lost 1-0 at El Salvador to a 37th minute goal. The scoreline flatters the visitors who finished with no shots on target to four from El Salvador. It was Panama with the edge on possession at 54%, outpassing El Salvador 307 to 274 with an accuracy of 71% to 64%. By comparison, the USMNT put seven shots on target against Jamaica and had 62% of the possession with 510 passes at 86% accuracy.
It’s not completely straightforward on the road in Panama City. The USMNT will be without Fulham’s Antonee Robinson and Manchester City’s Zack Steffen due to Panama being on England’s red list that requires quarantine. With Robinson starting against Jamaica, that means reworking the backline. USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter only substituted one defender against Jamaica, bringing on Shaq Moore for Sergino Dest due to a hamstring injury.
With Ricardo Pepi once again scoring the goals, getting him in position to do more of the same has to be high on Berhalter’s list. That requires service. Pepi showed that he can take advantage of the chances when they eventually fall to him. It’s the kind of situational awareness that makes the difference, something that no country in Concacaf can take as a given right now.
The boos heard at the final whistle last night at Estadio Azteca followed a mix of disruption and missed opportunities in the 1-1 draw with Canada. Both teams finished with four shots on goal, but it was Mexico leading 15 to 13 on fouls that helps tell the story. Playing a physical game and fighting for space, Canada came up with the crucial blocks in and around the box to change the game. Canada gave up seven corners, confident in their ability to defend set pieces. In a night of reordering the table, adding a draw at Mexico to their draw last month at the United States highlights what this team can do.
It changes things for the rest of the Octagonal, unable to count on home dominance with the round settled on the road. For the USMNT, the October schedule suggests exactly what Pepi told ESPN during the postgame last night. Setting nine points as the goal doesn’t overlook the level of the opposition. Instead, it speaks to the reality of the situation.
Soccer America’s Paul Kennedy highlights the USMNT’s sense of purpose in the win over Jamaica. Goal’s Ryan Tolmich with Pepi’s role in the squad. Yahoo’s Henry Bushnell looks at how Pepi is changing games. MLSsoccer’s Charles Boehm on the USMNT quickly shifting focus to Panama. The Athletic’s Paul Tenorio underlines Berhalter’s comments about perspective. SI’s Jonathan Wilson works through the sale of Newcastle United. ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle considers the latest changes at FC Cincinnati.
WEEKEND SOCCER TV
Saturday has World Cup qualifying on TUDN: Lithuania vs Bulgaria at 9am. MLS on Univision: Red Bulls vs Inter Miami at 6pm. Chivas vs Leon friendly on Univision at 10pm.
Sunday has the conclusion of the UEFA Nations League. Italy vs Belgium for 3rd-place is on ESPNU at 9am. ESPN has Spain vs France in the final at 2:45pm. Concacaf World Cup qualifying on Universo: Panama vs United States at 6pm (streaming in English on Paramount+). Mexico vs Honduras is on Univision at 7pm. MLS on ESPN: Minnesota United vs Colorado at 4pm.
No games on Monday’s schedule. All Times Eastern
Wise words from last night’s captain, @tyler_adams14.👨✈️
— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) October 8, 2021
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