USMNT vs. Panama
Estadio Rommel Fernandez- Panama City, Panama
Tuesday, October 15, 2013- 9:30 pm ET
The United States has already achieved everything they can in World Cup qualifying matches, going into their final match. The US has clinched a spot in the 2014 World Cup, and they have clinched the top spot in the hexagonal standings.
Panama is at the other end of the spectrum. This is a must win match to keep their World Cup dreams alive. Panama is currently fifth in the standings with Mexico occupying the fourth spot that has to play New Zealand. So Panama’s back is against the wall, and is in need of a strong win and a Mexico loss.
Mexico plays Costa Rica tonight in Costa Rica. Costa Rica (like the US) has clinched a berth in the 2014 World Cup, and they cannot catch the US in the standings.
The US will not be playing with their full starting roster. Clint Dempsey is out due to a sprained AC joint in his shoulder he suffered on the 13th. Tim Howard will receive some rest as Brad Guzan will get the start in net. Michael Bradley is still out due to injury, but is expected to play Friday for his club Roma, as they take on Napoli. So Jurgen Klinsmann will have to rely on the depth of the USMNT for their final WCQ match.
Since there are no World Cup implications for the US in this match most regular starters will not be playing tonight. As a result, this is a chance for some players to earn a roster spot to Brazil in 2014.
The last time the USMNT took on Panama with an altered roster was the championship match of the 2013 Gold Cup in late July. The US defeated Panama 1-0 off a Landon Donovan cross to Brek Shea in the 68th minute.
The US will look like they did in the Gold Cup final; the reserves and bench players will take the stage while key starters will get the rest. The huge difference between these two games is that the US had not won a Gold Cup since 2007 when they entered their match at Soldier Field in late July. Tonight’s match, with the exception of roster spots for the future, means nothing. The US is obviously not going to lay an egg in this game but the end result has no meaning for the red, white, and blue.
Panama is the polar opposite; they need to win and some help from Mexico to even have a chance at trip to Brazil; Panama is beyond backed up against a wall. They do have home field advantage in their favor, which will be an enormous factor in tonight’s game.
The US cannot come out as flat as they did against Jamaica. Panama is expected to start the game swinging, giving everything they have to give in front of their Panamanian faithful.
Panama 1-1 USMNT