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Concacaf’s fourth round of World Cup qualifying games are now behind us.
The United States, with just a narrow lead over Mexico, sit at the top of the Octagonal with two wins and two draws. Panama, who recently suffered their first loss of the competition, aren’t too far below with one win, two draws, and one defeat.
It’s early days in World Cup qualifying, and for both the U.S. men’s national team and Panama, there is much that must still be resolved before becoming clear frontrunners. Especially Panama, but luckily for the Central American side, they’ll have the benefit of playing at home this weekend.
This’ll be a tight one.
|Mexico vs Honduras Information|
|Teams||Panama vs United States|
|Location||Estadio Rommel Fernandez (Panama City, Panama)|
|Time||Sunday, October 10th at 3:00 pm PT/6:00 pm ET|
|How to Watch||Paramount+|
For the United States, they showed that they weren’t as vulnerable as they appeared after a shaky start to World Cup qualifying.
After an underwhelming September that included two draws and one win, the USMNT responded on Thursday night with a 2-0 victory at home against Jamaica.
As for Panama, following their unexpected three-game undefeated start, their latest and narrow 1-0 loss to El Salvador was a humbling one. Although they dominated possession away from home, Panama struggled with finding enough shots on target to equalize the scoreline.
That said, there is hope for a vital point ahead. Despite the fact that they’ll be the underdogs, Panama should be feeling confident against a young U.S. roster that don’t tend to have much experience outside of their home ground.
Pay no attention to their 4-1 away win against Honduras, which was in the end, a misleading scoreline. For this very exciting but also inexperienced USMNT roster, many haven’t dealt with the pressures of a full World Cup qualifying cycle.
Away from recognizable grounds and a home-field advantage, it hasn’t been out of the ordinary for the United States to stumble with jet lag and a variety of unfamiliar pitches. Coupled with what could be a packed Estadio Rommel Fernandez, the United States will undoubtedly have plenty of obstacles to deal with this Sunday.
And regardless of their aforementioned away win over Honduras, they might stick with the standard World Cup qualifying rule of “win at home, draw away.”
If Panama had scored just one goal earlier this week against El Salvador, they would have not only maintained their undefeated streak, but would have been two points behind the USMNT.
There’s much to like about the side that is under the leadership of Thomas Christiansen. Once recently guiding Leeds United, Christiansen has now made Panama exceptional in defense.
With two goals allowed in their four games so far, it’s an incredibly promising sign for the team that are now in a great position in the Octagonal table. If one of their marquee players steps up as well, Panama might be in a fantastic position for a draw this weekend as well.
Although some of his teammates boast minutes with European clubs, Rolando Blackburn has so far been able to eclipse them with his powerful run through World Cup qualifying.
Nicknamed “El Toro” and appropriately playing for Bolivian club The Strongest, Blackburn has two goals in his last three appearances for Panama. Known for his dribbling and excellent finishing, Blackburn will be a handful for the USMNT backline on Sunday.
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Freelance writer Cesar Hernandez is a specialist in all things American and Mexican soccer. He has written for ESPN FC, The Athletic, The Guardian, FourFourTwo, VICE Sports and several other publications. Along with writing and previous radio appearances on the BBC, talkSPORT and SiriusXM FC, Cesar is also a member of the Mexican Soccer Show podcast. Email: [email protected]More info on Cesar Hernandez
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