For the U.S. Men’s National Team, there were plenty of positives to take away from their 3-0 friendly victory over Bolivia at Talen Energy Stadium. Six players earned their first caps for the senior squad, three players all got their first senior goals, and many others put in strong shifts in front of the American faithful.
LAFC defender Walker Zimmerman was one of those players that stood out for Dave Sarachan’s side, scoring his first senior goal to help kickstart the Stars and Stripes to a comfortable victory. The 25-year-old got on the end of Joe Corona’s corner kick and headed past Gullermo Vizcarra to give the U.S. a 1-0 first-half lead.
“It felt great, it’s certainly a moment that I’ve been waiting for my whole career and it’s something I can show my kids one day,” Zimmerman said.
Making only his third cap for the USMNT, Zimmerman looked comfortable and composed in a baclkine that saw Eric Lichaj, Erik Palmer-Brown, and Antonee Robinson round out the bunch. Lichaj was captaining the team for the first time in his career, while Palmer-Brown and Robinson were making their first caps. Even with some nervy moments at times, the MLS defender made the right decisions when it mattered for his team.
“It was a great experience working with those guys,” Zimmerman said. “Eric for sure brings a lot of experience and leadership. We both had conversations with the other two guys before the match and we told them we believed in them and to trust in their ability and I thought Erik and Antonee both had good matches.”
Zimmerman opened the scoring for the USMNT, but two others grabbed their first goals as well. Josh Sargent doubled the lead in the 51st minute as he picked up a mistake from Carlos Lampe and slotted in past the Bolivian keeper. 18-year-old Timothy Weah got on the end of Robinson’s cross in the 58th minute to extend the U.S.’ advantage to 3-0.
The former FC Dallas man was once in the shoes of Sargent and Weah as a younger player trying to make an impact. With all three getting on the scoresheet in Monday’s win, Zimmerman praised the effort put in not by the attacking duo but by the entire team.
“It’s just awesome to see them score as younger players,” Zimmerman said. “To come out here and have the games that they did and be as dangerous as they were was huge. Both goals came off of determined runs and hard-working play, so overall I’m just happy to be a part of this game.”
Scoring three goals was huge for the team, but to continue their shutout streak was even more important to Zimmerman. Anytime you can keep the opponents off the scoresheet, it proves that as a unit your job was completed to the fullest. The USMNT have posted three consecutive clean sheets and have not allowed a goal in their last 329 minutes of competitive action.
Overall as a defensive unit, Sarachan appreciated the hard work put in by the defenders and felt together they did a good job of frustrating Bolivia offensively.
“I don’t think we were tested a whole lot tonight, but that isn’t to take anything away from the backline,” Sarachan said. “I felt Walker was the more vocal of the defenders and we looked strong in our organization and communication. In the second-half we got a little sloppy, but we did make a lot of changes as well. Generally speaking, I think our backline did a good job together.”