The United States continue their quest to reach Qatar 2022 when they visit Panama for a qualification match at the Estadio Rommel Fernández on Sunday evening (23:00 UK time).
Gregg Berhalter’s men currently lead the Octagonal standings after the opening four rounds while their hosts are three places below them and seeking a return to successful ways.
Panama vs USA live stream:
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Where to watch Panama vs USA on TV:
- UK: N/A
- US: Paramount+
Scoreline prediction: Panama 0-2 USA
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Panama vs USA build-up & previous line-ups:
The last World Cup finals in Russia saw Panama make their first tournament appearance. They found themselves in a group with European powerhouses Belgium and England as well as Tunisia; naturally given Los Canaleros‘ minnow status Hernán Darío Gómez’s men finished bottom of Group G with no points and having conceded 11 times while scoring just twice. Thomas Christiansen’s current team came through the first round of CONCACAF qualification by topping Group E with a perfect record, they subsequently defeated Curaçao over two legs in the following round before reaching the Octagonal, and with four matches played they’re fourth on five points behind the regions ‘big two’ (USA and Mexico) and Canada. Panama also come into this latest fixture with just one win under their belt albeit three points from top spot.
Currently leading the way is the USA who are unbeaten and on a two-game winning streak. Gregg Berhalter’s side, who lifted this summer’s Gold Cup, began with a goalless draw at El Salvador before snatching a point from the jaws of victory against their northern neighbours Canada on matchday two. Next time out the Stars and Stripes ran out empathic 1-4 winners on the road to Honduras and most recently they eked out a 2-0 win over Jamaica putting them level on points with arch-rivals Mexico but they hold top spot due to a superior goal-difference (+5). The Yanks also come into this latest round of fixtures boasting the best attack (seven goals) and defence (two conceded) in the Octagonal standings. Also from a historical standing, this will be the ninth WCQ meeting between USA and Panama, and in those previous outings the United States have picked up six wins.
- Panama (vs El Salvador): Mejía; Murillo, Escobar, Cummings, Davis; Quintero, Ayarza, Godoy, Rodríguez; Blackburn, Bárcenas.
- USA (vs Jamaica): Turner; Dest, Zimmerman, M. Robinson, A. Robinson; Musah, Adams, McKennie; Arriola, Pepi, Aaronson.
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Player to watch: Ricardo Pepi (USA)
What an introduction to international life for teenage marksman Ricardo Pepi who goes into matchday five of the Octagonal having made two appearances and netting three goals. Eligible to have represented Mexico, through ancestry, the El Paso-born striker opted for the United States and that decision has gone swimmingly well. A graduate of FC Dallas he’s currently running away with the MLS golden shoe having bagged 13 goals so far this season. Consequently, the Texan native has attracted attention from Europe with Bayern Munich reportedly interested although Pepi dreams of playing for Chelsea where compatriot Christian Pulisic plies his trade. USMNT boss Berhalter is expected to hand America’s latest wunderkid a starting berth against Panama and he’ll fancy his chances of scoring in a third consecutive senior international appearance.
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