Heading into the match against Panama, the United States Men’s National team was looking to inch closer to qualifying for the World Cup in Qatar, as earlier in the same day, Costa Rica had won their game with El Salvador 2-1 at the Estadio Cuscatlán in San Salvador.
Later in the day, up north in Orlando, Florida, USMNT ran a riot against Panama. The US internationals scored 5 goals and only conceded 1 goal to the Panamanians.
This puts them in the driving seat already in their next match against Costa Rica as they would need to lose by a heavy 6-goal deficit to not qualify right away. They would then be sent to a playoff against winners from Oceania.
After the victory over Panama, the US internationals sit comfortably in second place on the World Cup Qualifying CONCACAF Standings with 25 points, 3 points behind the leaders Canada who have already qualified a few nights ago, after their win over Jamaica.
USMNT needed a strong performance, and the captain delivered. Pulisic scored his first-ever hattrick in the 5-1 win over Panama, with other goals coming from Paul Arriola and Jesus Ferreira.
If Christian Pulisic was the team’s sword, then Luca De La Torre was certainly the shield.
Luca may not have scored any goals for his side in this match, but he gave something very refreshing for the fans to cheer.
The US was given 2 penalties in the match which were bound to get Panama players frustrated at some point.
In comes De La Torre to protect his teammates from any and every clash they had with the Panama players and also dragged his own players out of conflict.
The American midfielder also argued with the referee to defend his players over some decisions.
Luca de la Torre – The Shield of Captain America
In the following video by Twitter user @watzke_, Luca is seen shielding his countrymen, just like a bouncer.
Just 6 minutes in and Luca is not afraid to stand up to the referee who was talking to Antonee Robinson about a foul.
Almost 10 minutes later, he is seen shielding his players again during the setup for a penalty, and this time standing tall against the Panamanians.
His concentration is visible here as he’s seen covering two of his teammates, once when Jesus Ferreira is standing at the penalty spot with the ball in his hand, and again when Pulisic turns out to be the original penalty taker after Ferreira hands him the ball.
This ended all possibilities of the Panama players getting inside the penalty taker’s head. Luca acts like a proud elder brother and kisses Pulisic on the top of his head after the captain scores the penalty.
In the 45+5th minute, Luca shields Pulisic when he’s seen arguing with some more Panama players, and the fourth official too this time.
Luca maintained this level of composure and professionalism throughout the match, showing his loyalty towards the national side and proving he has racked up quite a lot of experience in just 23 games.
Luca De La Torre is likely to feature in the match against Costa Rica in the final round of the World Cup Qualifiers on 31st March.