4 Thoughts Ahead of The USA vs. Panama World Cup Qualifier

4 Thoughts Ahead of The USA vs. Panama World Cup Qualifier

Soccer

4 Thoughts Ahead of The USA vs. Panama World Cup Qualifier

The U.S. plays Panama in a World Cup qualifier at 10 p.m. ET on beINsports. 

History favors the U.S. The U.S. is 5-0-1 in qualifiers against Panama. They won 3-2 at Panama during the 2014 cycle. The match was irrelevant for them. But, the win, on two stoppage-time goals, eliminated Panama for the World Cup and allowed Mexico to slip in through the back door in the fourth place playoff.

Panama should be tougher to break down. The Canaleros have allowed just one goal in three Hex matches, tied for the fewest. They held Mexico to a 0-0 draw. Road matches in CONCACAF can be tough. The pitches tend to be less than stellar. The U.S. romping to another 6-0 win is improbable. That said, Panama has also only scored one goal in the three qualifying matches. This feels like a game that may hinge on a late goal or a set piece. Though, to be fair, so did the Honduras match.

The U.S. needs to solidify the midfield. Michael Bradley scored an excellent goal. He also struggled a bit with bad giveaways and poorly given free kicks. Honduras was not equipped to take the chances against the U.S., but they were there. Sebastian Lletget being knocked out 4-6 months before he could even get a real run out doesn’t help. The U.S. needs a more stable spine if they are going to field a more attacking lineup with Nagbe and Pulisic joining two forwards. Fortunately, Jermaine Jones is back from suspension.

The back four will be makeshift. Injuries just keep piling up for the USMNT back line. Potential DeAndre Yedlin and Fabian Johnson were ruled out for the qualifiers with injuries. Starting central defender John Brooks (sinus infection) and backup Michael Orozco (knee) were sent home. Timmy Chandler was left back in Europe due to suspension as well. This was not an area where the U.S. could afford a run of injuries.

 

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