USA vs Panama – Match Preview

USA vs Panama - Match Preview

USA vs Panama – Match Preview- The United States kick-off their Gold Cup by facing Panama at the Nissan Stadium in Nashville, hoping to reclaim the crown from Mexico.

Hosts for every tournament since the Gold Cup’s inception in 1991, the United States have a level of expectation on their shoulders. The winner of this tournament faces the previous winner of this tournament in a play-off match to reach the Confederations Cup – a massive prize for teams in this competition.

This expectation is heightened based on the fact USMNT are one of only three teams to ever win the title (alongside Canada and Mexico) and only one of two to ever be victorious more than once (five times, with Mexico’s seven).

The Stars and Stripes are second favourites for this year’s edition behind arch-rivals Mexico, and Bruce Arena will be raring to capture his first title since his return as United States manager. His side face a tricky opening task to start in winning ways against overachievers Panama. In fact, this fixture is a repeat of the 2013 final – where USMNT came away with a 1-0 and the trophy.

Panama will not be taken lightly, and in fact have a rather incredible record in this competition in recent times relative to their population size and general footballing stature.

Los Canaleros have reached the quarter-finals or better in all 6 CONCACAF Gold Cups since 2005, and reached the semi-finals in each of the last three tournaments, finishing in third place in 2015 after a victory over the United States in the 3rd place play-off on penalty kicks. Also, as mentioned above Panama were runners-up (to the same opponents) in 2013 – an astounding achievement.

Ominously though, Los Canaleros have only ever beaten USMNT once in normal play, in the 2011 Gold Cup Group Stage. Could a shock be on the cards?

Dom Dwyer celebrates with team mate Acosta Photo Credit: The Canadian Press

Team News 
U.S soccer has one true wonderkid in its ranks at present, Borussia Dortmund’s Christian Pulisic. However, the highly-rated midfielder hasn’t been named in Bruce Arena’s squad so will rely on other creative forces such as Dax McCarty and Gyasi Zardes alongside new faces such as forward Dom Dwyer and uncapped Cristian Rolden. Familiar faces in the 23 include Erik Lichaj of Nottingham Forest and ex-Aston Villa and Middlesbrough goalkeeper Brad Guzan.

Gabriel Gomez is Panama’s all time record appearance holder Photo Credit: MexSport

Panama’s team will be reliant on stalwarts such as all-time record appearance maker Gabriel Gomez in midfield (132 caps), Toronto’s Armando Cooper (86 caps) and San Jose Earthquakes’ Anibal Godoy (77 caps).

Full squads

United States:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (New York City FC)

DEFENDERS (8): Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca, MEX), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest, ENG), Matt Miazga (Chelsea, ENG), Justin Morrow (Toronto FC), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna, MEX), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

MIDFIELDERS (9): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana, MEX), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana, MEX), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Chris Pontius (Philadelphia Union), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC), Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)

FORWARDS (3): Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Dom Dwyer (Sporting Kansas City), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC)

GOALKEEPERS (3): Jose Calderon (CD Marathon, HON); Orlando Mosquera (Tauro FC, PAN); Alex Rodriguez (San Francisco FC, PAN)

DEFENDERS (8): Roberto Chen (Deportivo Arabe Unido, PAN); Eric Davis (FC DAC 1904 DunajskA Streda, SVK); Fidel Escobar (Unattached); Roderick Miller (Atlético Nacional, COL); Michael Amir Murillo (New York Red Bulls, USA); Luis Ovalle (Unattached); Angel Patrick (Deportivo Arabe Unido, PAN); Jan Carlos Vargas (Tauro FC, PAN)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Edgar Yoel Barcenas (Cafetaleros de Tapachula, MEX); Miguel Camargo (New York City FC, USA); Armando Cooper (Toronto FC, CAN); Anibal Godoy (San Jose Earthquakes, USA); Gabriel Gomez (Atlético Bucaramanga, COL); Leslie Heraldez (Deportivo Arabe Unido, PAN); Josiel Nuñez (CD Plaza Amador, PAN); Valentin Pimentel (CD Plaza Amador, PAN)

FORWARDS (4): Abdiel Arroyo (Danubio FC, URU); Ricardo Clarke (Unattached); Ismael Diaz (FC Porto, POR); Gabriel Torres (FC Lausanne-Sport, SUI)


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