World Cup qualifying odds: Panama at United States
The United States can take a gigantic step toward qualifying for the World Cup next year in Brazil with a victory over Panama in Seattle on Tuesday night, and the Americans are sizable favorites on WagerWeb.com.
The Americans beat Jamaica 2-1 on Friday, the first ever World Cup qualifying win for the Americans in that country. The Americans gave up an equalizer in the 89th minute before defender Brad Evans scored his first National Team goal with a slick finish in extra time for a 2-1 win against the Reggae Boyz. U.S. forward Jozy Altidore tallied the first goal in the 30th minute, powering home a header off a Graham Zusi cross from the right wing. The first half strike seemed like it would be enough for the victory until Jermaine Beckford darted free behind the USA’s restraining line to head home an 89 th-minute free kick from six yards out.
Team USA head coach Jurgen Klinsmann started the same 11 players he sent out against Germany in a 4-3 victory on June 2, and the critical three points earned on the road put the USA into second place in the Hexagonal with two home World Cup Qualifying matches. The Americans also face Honduras next week in Utah.
Two key players will sit Tuesday’s match out. Panama’s top scoring threat, Blas Pérez, didn’t make the trip due to gastroenteritis. Pérez has been in good form for Panama and FC Dallas, and his likely replacement, Rolando Blackburn, is something of a downgrade.
But the U.S. is missing its own regular starters. Right midfielder Graham Zusi, who has been so effective crossing balls to Jozy Altidore for goals of late, is out on a yellow-card suspension. Meanwhile, central midfielder Jermaine Jones tweeted late Sunday that he will miss Tuesday’s game after suffering a concussion in the win against Jamaica on Friday.
Seven players are now carrying yellow cards into this qualifier: DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Bradley, Matt Besler, Brad Davis, Clint Dempsey, Evans and Fabian Johnson. Their next caution will result in a one-match suspension.
Panama has a real chance of qualifying for the World Cup for the first time in its history, especially with the possibility of four CONCACAF teams making it to Brazil.
“I think they match us physically, which is tough for us,” said U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard. “We’ll try and figure that out. We handled it the last time we played them down in Houston [a 1-0 semifinal win in the '11 Gold Cup].”
The United States has a five-game winning streak in Seattle, and is unbeaten when playing in the home of the Sounders. The U.S. enters the match sporting a 23-match unbeaten run in qualifying at home, the 21-0-2 record dating back to 2001.
The United States holds an 8-1-2 lifetime record against Panama, including a 7-1-1 record on U.S. soil. A total of 10 of the 11 meetings between the two teams have come in either the CONCACAF Gold Cup or FIFA World Cup Qualifying. The teams last met in a friendly for the first time, a 1-0 win on Jan. 25, 2012, in Panama City. Zusi scored his first international goal while Jermaine Jones captained the young team.