Clint Dempsey of the Sounders scored his 56th international goal and is one short of Landon Donovan’s national record. Dempsey has four goals in the last two U.S. matches in World Cup qualifying.
PANAMA CITY – Christian Pulisic made an outstanding individual move to steal the ball, spin a defender and feed Clint Dempsey for his 56th international goal, and the United States held on for a 1-1 draw against Panama on Tuesday night in 2018 World Cup qualifying.
Dempsey, who plays for the Sounders in Major League Soccer, scored from 6 yards on a sliding, right-footed shot in the 39th minute on a warm and humid night. Dempsey is one short of Landon Donovan’s U.S. record for career goals.
The lead didn’t last long, as Panama’s Gabriel Gomez tied the score in the 43rd minute.
U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard thwarted Luis Tejada with a between-the-legs stop in the 59th minute.
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The United States was reeling after its first two matches in the 10-match final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region, as it was 0-2 and last in the hexagonal.
Jurgen Klinsmann was fired in November and replaced by Bruce Arena, the U.S. coach from 1998 to 2006, and the team accomplished its immediate goal by getting back into contention with Friday’s 6-0 rout of visiting Honduras — Dempsey had three goals — and then a point in Panama.
“This is probably the most athletic team in CONCACAF, so it’s hard to match them,” Howard said. “The objective was to get four points (in the two matches). If we got six points, we’d be on top of the world. Four is good.”
Mexico leads with 10 points through four matches, followed by Costa Rica with seven and Panama with five. The United States and Honduras have four each. The top three teams at the end of qualifying are guaranteed World Cup berths and the fourth team goes to a playoff match.
Play resumes June 8 when the U.S….