"We have to put it right", Keller said of the thought process.
The Americans have lost two home games in a World Cup cycle for the first time since 1957, 2-1 to Mexico last November and 2-0 to Costa Rica last month - their first defeat in 16 games since Bruce Arena replaced Jurgen Klinsmann as coach.
If it were to defeat Panama on Friday, and Trinidad and Tobago four days later, it would nearly certainly have punched its ticket for Russia-with only unlikely scenarios of Honduras making up at least a 9 goal differential in two games remaining a variable.
After holding on to a 2-1 lead, Panama was all set to face New Zealand. A victory for the Panamanians would all but clinch their nation's first World Cup berth.
Eight goals in Johnson's first eight US appearances set the American soccer world alight back in 2004 and 2005, yet he never really came close to replicating that on any consistent basis.
While the US was impressive going forward, it was suspect in the back.
Christian Pulisic put on another masterpiece Friday, reminding us all why he has begun to draw comparisons to Argentine superstar Lionel Messi. It doesn't happen that way. And I think you have to deal with praise and criticism the same way. Why are they fourth right now, with a worse goal differential than Panama? He'll need him Tuesday evening against Trinidad &andTobago.
Heading into his first global match since turning 19 in September, Pulisic has developed into the top American player since making his debut in the Bundesliga in January 2016.
"There really isn't much of a difference, which is part of why we have hard decisions to make", goalkeepers coach Matt Reis said. "I hate to kind of pour too much praise on him". I've stopped believing I know what USMNT Managers are thinking long ago.
"He's got a lot of work to do". And wasn't it refreshing to see the US score early and then continue to drop the hammer instead of letting the opponent back in the game? However, if Honduras wins on Friday against Costa Rica, the USA could be pushed out of the top four. The top three teams will qualify automatically for Russian Federation, while the fourth-place team will face Australia or Syria in a two-game playoff in November for a World Cup berth. Escaping Mexico, Panama and Honduras with draws mean the US still have a chance. The U.S. team stumbled at the start of the 2018 qualifying matches, and Klinsmann was sacked.
Wood and Altidore manned the front line. Then, when stoppage time came and the USA scored two late goals for a 3-2 win.
Both sides had great scoring chances in the opening six minutes.
It mattered little though as Wood earned a penalty moments later and Altidore stepped up to convert two minutes before half-time, taking his tally to 41 worldwide goals, third behind Dempsey and Landon Donovan.
Altidore one-timed the ball square to a sprinting Pulisic, and the midfielder reached back with his left leg to flick the ball ahead.
When Pulisic tore open the left side of the Panama defense 11 minutes later, slotting a cross that Altidore simply poked into the net, the game - 19 minutes old - seemed over.
Pulisic acknowledged the beating, a fact of his life that has become common in games against Concacaf opposition, and shrugged it off. The second leg will be played on October 10.
No one benefited more from having Pulisic in the thick of things than Altidore, he of the two goals and one assist on the night. The move backfired and Cooper gave away a penalty after Bobby Wood dribbled past three defenders forcing Cooper to pull him down inside the area. As Pinedo dived to his left, Altidore chipped the ball down the center for his 41st global goal.
You could feel the US attack feeding off of Pulisic's confidence, as every member of the group contributed, making Panama pay for giving the USA attack too much room to operate.
For example, US fans often lambaste captain Michael Bradley. And all of the Draw fell on the last 4 duel rivals, including in the first round of selection 1: 1.