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Veteran Michael Bradley, youngster Nick Lima earn top marks as U.S. start 2019 with a victory

The Gregg Berhalter era got off to a great start in Phoenix as the United States dominated Panama from start to finish.
USMNT forward Christian Ramirez describes his debut goal against Panama and the role he was expected to play as a No. 9 in Gregg Berhalter's system.

With an young, experimental team at his disposal, new United States head coach Gregg Berhalter started off his tenure with an encouraging 3-0 victory over Panama at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

Positives

It was nearly all positive for Berhalter and his charges. Five Americans made their national team debuts, the most in a USMNT game since 1992. Despite inexperience throughout the squad, the team executed Berhalter's plan and leveraged their possession advantage to a 3-0 win. Improvement over the course of the game is encouraging for a future that will feature some of the players on the field in Arizona.

Negatives

Only the lack of quality from Panama could be tapped as a negative in the U.S. win. The Canaleros showed little attacking teeth and were complicit in turning the ball over to the Americans all evening. The visitor's lack of aggression just makes properly analyzing the win more difficult.

Manager rating out of 10

8 -- The night was a near perfect debut for Berhalter, considering the circumstances. His team won going away after being dominant for 90 minutes. His players executed his system and grew into the game. With the low stakes and young squad, he was able to get seven players their first caps and the full complement of 17 players possible on the field.

Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Zack Steffen, 7 -- Not asked to do much, but was required to make one excellent save in the second half with the United States holding onto a 1-0 lead.

DF Daniel Lovitz, 5 -- Looked nervous at the outset but settled into the game. Misplaced a handful of passes out of the back but provided a strong tackle with the Americans seeing out the game in the final 10 minutes.

DF Walker Zimmerman, 7 -- Rarely tested on the defensive end, Zimmerman distributed the ball well, stepping up to help exploit passing lanes. Scored a towering header to put the match away.

DF Aaron Long, 7 -- Exceedingly quiet night for the side's captain. Misplaced a few long passes but was otherwise competent playing out of the back. Chalked up five recoveries.

DF Nick Lima, 8 -- Thrived in the unique right-back/midfield dual role and provided the cross for Zimmerman's goal. Popped up near the box on occasion, flexing from his defensive role. Played an excellent pass to aid in the buildup for the opener.

MF Djordje Mihailovic, 7 -- Smooth on the ball and understood the role in Berhalter's system. Provided the finish that put the Americans out in front. Excellent debut for the 20-year-old.

MF Michael Bradley, 8 -- Played a vintage game, misplacing just three passes all night from a deep-lying role in midfield. Showed a tactical understanding and work rate that centered the U.S. across 84 minutes.

Michael Bradley impressed in his first game under Gregg Berhalter, the 31-year-old looking calm and composed in midfield.
Michael Bradley impressed in his first game under Gregg Berhalter, the 31-year-old looking calm and composed in midfield.

MF Cristian Roldan, 7 -- Played smart soccer in a 90-minute shift. Used the space available to good effect and played creator in Berhalter's setup. Missed a few passes that might have led to chances.

FW Corey Baird, 6 -- Direct and dangerous on the right side in a system that demands a lot from wing players. Provided the pass that set up Mihailovic for the American's opening goal.

FW Jeremy Ebobisse, 5 -- Most effective on the defensive side of the ball, tracking back to help recover possession. His impact waned after a clash of heads midway through the first half.

FW Gyasi Zardes, 6 -- Good with his hold-up play, but missed three good chances to score. Active and willing to track back defensively.

Substitutes

MF Sebastian Lletget, N/R -- Lacked sharpness after coming on for Mihailovic. Connected more than once with Jonathan Lewis on the left side.

MF Jonathan Lewis, N/R -- Nearly created a goal on his debut, then set up Ramirez for the final tally of the night for the Americans. Dynamic, athletic, dangerous.

GK Sean Johnson, N/R -- Made a save immediately upon entry. Struggled in terms of playing the ball out of the back under pressure after coming in cold.

MF Paul Arriola, N/R -- Found space effectively after coming on a substitute. Needed to be more aggressive in one-on-one situations.

FW Christian Ramirez, N/R -- Scored on his USMNT debut, unmarked 5 yards from goal.

MF Wil Trapp, N/R -- Connected on a handful of passes, missing just one in a late cameo.

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