AP Photo/John Raoux

USMNT 4-0 Panama: Thrash Unreal

1 Comment
  • Altidore scores two
  • U.S. leads 3-0 at half
  • Pulisic goal, assist
  • U.S. moves third
  • Heads to T&T for Tues. finale

Christian Pulisic and Jozy Altidore spearheaded the United States men’s national team to an emphatic 4-0 World Cup qualifying win over Panama at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on Friday.

Altidore scored twice, Pulisic had a goal and an assist, and Bobby Wood also scored in the win.

[ MORE: 3 things | Player ratings ]

The win moves the U.S. to the precipice of qualifying for Russia. A win at Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday will clinch it, and a draw could do the trick depending on the Honduras-Costa Rica result on Saturday (The match was postponed due to weather).

[ WATCH: Pulisic scores | Feeds Jozy for 2-0 ]

Christian Pulisic, to no one’s surprise, supplied the first true threat with a dynamic dribble and pass to set up Jozy Altidore for a shot blocked inside the 18.

Bobby Wood was the next to tempt an opener, firing just wide from a Jozy Altidore pass.

Panama, however, engineered a big scare when Blas Perez worked Omar Gonzalez before ripping a shot wide.

Fortunately, that’s when Pulisic settled the nerves with an eighth minute goal, dancing onto a Altidore pass and playing Jaime Penedo like a fiddle before sliding a goal home from an acute angle. Wood started the play, and it was 1-0.

[ MORE: U-17 World Cup Day 1 roundup ]

Pulisic then earned a corner. Anibal Godoy bloodied Matt Besler with an elbow before the attempt. When it was served, Altidore hit a shot off the outside of the goal.

Then, Altidore and 2-0. It came, no surprise, off the boot of a Pulisic cross from the left. It was a sensational pass that swept around the backs and onto Altidore’s back post boot.

Paul Arriola cued Bobby Wood up for a long run on goal that was ended when Penedo stopped the Hamburg man’s shot.

Matt Besler was caught twice in a five-minute span, the second requiring an two handed save from Tim Howard.

Altidore should’ve made it 3-0 on the business end of a well-worked rush, but had his head down and didn’t see Penedo racing out to thwart his shot.

Wood then won — and aided — a penalty when fouled by Armando Cooper. In this giant spot, Altidore had the audacity to chip a panenka past a flying Penedo.

Panama’s second half philosophy was to batter Pulisic, and a distracted U.S. allowed some more chances to Los Canaleros. That includes Tim Howard’s stooping to collect a Roman Torres shot.

Pulisic left the match, healthy, for Dax McCarty, giving the youngster relief and the veteran his first appearance in a World Cup qualifier.

Arriola then threatened Penedo with a low shot in the 59th minute. Then Panama allowed Wood to dance through its defense and rip a shot that sailed wide in the 62nd minute.

Wood made it 4-0 in the 63rd minute, turning a quick pass from Arriola and clinically finishing past Penedo.

Penedo stopped Arriola after a delightful pass from McCarty — and a fortuitous trip from a Panama center back.

Oxlade-Chamberlain back in Liverpool training

AP Photo/Dave Thompson
Leave a comment

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is back in Liverpool training, nine months after a horrible injury cost him the chance to appear in the UEFA Champions League Final.

Initially ruled out for the duration of the 2018-19 season following an ACL year, “The Ox” is giving the Reds a boost in Dubai.

[ MORE: Latest on Emiliano Sala ]

The 25-year-old Oxlade-Chamberlain posted five goals and seven assists in his first season at Liverpool.

Oxlade-Chamberlain has 32 England caps and 283 senior appearances between Southampton, Arsenal, and Liverpool. He left the Gunners in part because of a desire to play a more central role in the midfield.

Oxlade-Chamberlain detailed his recovery late last year. There’s yet to be discussion of when he might be fit to return to match play, but Liverpool will be careful with its industrious playmaker.

Montreal owner Saputo hands presidency duties to Gilmore

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Montreal Impact owner Joey Saputo is giving the reigns of his club to a new president.

Saputo announced Tuesday that he’s handing over presidency duties to Kevin Gilmore, the former chief operating officer of the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens.

[ MORE: Latest on Emiliano Sala ]

The Saputo family founded the Impact in 1992, and Joey Saputo shepherded the club into Major League Soccer.

The Impact is coached by Remi Garde, the former Aston Villa boss, and has Designated Players in Ignacio Piatti and Saphir Taidir. The Bleu-blanc-noir just started training camp.

Cardiff “very distressed,” “praying for positive news” regarding Sala

AP Photo/David Vincent
Leave a comment

Cardiff City executive director Ken Choo has released a statement on the missing flight from France to Wales which carried new signing Emiliano Sala.

Crews in Wales continue to search for the plane, which disappeared from radar late Monday night.

UPDATE: The Guernsey Police say the search and rescue operations have ceased for the night, with “the current plan to resume at sunrise” on Wednesday.

Fans have flocked to Cardiff City Stadium and Nantes town square to lay flowers in hopes of a miraculous recovery for Sala and his pilot.

From Cardiff City’s official site:

“We were very shocked upon hearing the news that the plane had gone missing. We expected Emiliano to arrive last night into Cardiff and today was due to be his first day with the team.

“Our owner, Tan Sri Vincent Tan, and chairman, Mehmet Dalman, are all very distressed about the situation.

“We made the decision first thing this morning to call off training with the thoughts of the squad, management staff and the entire Club with Emiliano and the pilot.

“All of us at Cardiff City FC would like to thank our fans, and the entire footballing family for their support at this difficult time.

“We continue to pray for positive news.”

Ronaldo pleads guilty to tax fraud at Madrid court

Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MADRID (AP) Cristiano Ronaldo has pleaded guilty to tax fraud and received a two-year suspended sentence.

The Juventus forward, who was facing charges stemming from his days at Real Madrid, was in court for about 45 minutes and signed an agreement which will cost him nearly 19 million euros ($21.6 million) in fines.

[ MORE: Latest on Emiliano Sala ]

Ronaldo arrived at court in a black van and was wearing a black sports coat and black pants. He walked up some stairs leading to the court house and even stopped to sign an autograph.

Ronaldo made the deal to plead guilty with Spain’s state prosecutor and tax authorities last year.

In Spain, a judge can suspend sentences for two years or less for first-time offenders.

In 2017, a state prosecutor accused Ronaldo of four counts of tax fraud from 2011-14 worth 14.7 million euros ($16.7 million). Ronaldo was accused of having used shell companies outside Spain to hide income made from image rights.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni