Panama vs USA – Tuesday 7:05PM PST/10:05PM EST Estadio Rommel Fernández – Panama City, Panama.
The United States are back in the fifth round of World Cup qualifying. The US boys managed a convincing 6-0 defeat over Honduras, which means they are now in fourth place in the Hexagonal.
A fourth place finish in the Hexagonal would mean an inter-confederation playoff against the fifth placed team from the Asian Football Confederation. But, with the United States seemingly showing teeth under new head coach, Bruce Arena, they now have the chance to salvage the qualification and, perhaps, qualify directly for Russia 2018.
On Tuesday, the United States will be traveling to Panama City where they will face third-placed Panama. A convincing victory there would mean the United States could go as high as second in the group stage.
Much will depend on how Honduras rebounds against Costa Rica on matchday four, and whether the United States can reproduce their 6-0 performance on the road in Panama City. Those familiar with CONCACAF football would indeed quickly point out that playing down in Central America is an entirely different beast than hosting Honduras at home in San Jose California.
In fact, the United States’ latest trip down south ended with a 4-1 defeat to Costa Rica. But there are indications that, this time, the Yanks will do better. First and foremost, Bruce Arena seems to be getting the best out of his players—for now.
Using a simple, but effective, 4-4-2 formation against Honduras on Friday, the United States seemed comfortable in the back, and dangerous when going forward. Even more importantly, the talented Christian Pulisic and Darlington Nagbe were playing well together in midfield, where they were the catalysts for every USA attack.
Up front, the return of Clint Dempsey has added much needed depth. The Seattle Sounders forward, who missed much of last season with a heart issue, scored three goals, thereby eradicating any doubt over his fitness. At centre back, Hertha Berlin’s John Brooks and Pachuca’s Omar González showed off their international experience by providing a backbone that allowed the creative players to move forward quickly.
With this in mind, the USA will be favourites on Tuesday, but there is always the added wild card of having to play on the road in Central America…
Panama vs USA – Player to look out for:
Clint Dempsey is back! The Seattle Sounders forward was instrumental in the Yanks’ 6-0 victory over Honduras on Friday by scoring a hat-trick. The 34-year-old, in fact, showed that, despite his age and missing much of last season with a heart condition, he still is one of the United States’ most talented players.
Armando Cooper will be the player to watch on Panama’s squad. The midfielder, who plays for Toronto FC in Major League Soccer, was one of the players that stood out in Toronto’s playoff run to the MLS Cup final last season.
Panama vs USA – Match Stats
- Panama have won just two of their last five games.
- The United States have won three, and lost two of their last five qualification games.
- In their last competitive fixture against each other the United States defeated Panama in penalties in the match for third place at the 2015 Gold Cup.
Prediction: Panama vs USA 0-2
Cano – Ovalle, Torres, Baloy, Machado – Lemus, Henriquez, Cooper – Medina, Arroyo, Barcenas
Manager: Hernán Darío Gómez
Howard – Villafaña, Brooks, González, Cameron – Nagbe, Pulisic, Bradley, Lletget – Altidore, Dempsey
Manager: Bruce Arena