US to face Panama on way to World Cup
After Friday’s 6-0 dismantling of Honduras the United States Men’s National team looks forward to a meeting with Panama on Tuesday in what will be the fourth game of the hexagonal round of qualifying.
The US is riding high after Friday’s game. However, Panama is going to be much stiffer competition for the US. The loss of Sebastian Lletget and John Brooks on top of Deandre Yedlin, Bobby Wood, and Jordan Morris will really show itself this match – especially in the back line.
The US attack coming off a hot performance will look to carry a defence that loses focus at times, and that was before losing Brooks, arguably the best US defender, to injury. Look for Matt Besler to move into the vacated spot and team up with Omar Gonzalez, Damarcus Beasley, and Geoff Cameron.
The US midfield will stay largely the same, but with the Lletget injury, that midfielder spot will need to be replaced.
Bruce Arena has called up the 22 year-old midfielder Paul Arriola. Arriola is a decent replacement in good form but don’t expect that Arriola stepping on the field is a given. Arena might opt to go with a midfield used in the last match with Alejandro Bedoya and Michael Bradley.
The defense will also be in flux with John Brooks going down with an injury. Arena will likely look to the Sporting KC center back Matt Besler to step into the role and contribute. He will likely be paired with Omar Gonzalez who was lucky not to concede a goal when he lost his man in the box. Luckily for him, the shot went wide and the clean sheet was preserved.
Panama is a tier above Honduras and with that comes a far tougher game. Arena will look for this attack to smack Panama in the mouth with an early statement goal. Presuming that happens, the midfield should then look to dominating possession, which is often an issue for the US. Michael Bradley will be key to this, as all too often his errant passes put pressure on the back four, however all hope is not lost as Bradley in good form snagged a goal and played great defense last match. Look for him to get his turnovers under control and finally play a good all around match for the US in a 3-1 much needed win.