The United States men’s national team has restored a modicum of confidence after winning the first two games of Gold Cup action by a combined score of 10-0. Those triumphs came against lowly Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, so a heavy dose of salt is required.
The next step for this young roster is Panama tonight in Kansas City (9 p.m. EST, FS1 and UniMas). Both teams have already qualified for the quarterfinals after finishing as the top two teams in Group D.
The U.S. is still working to restore its image after missing out on the World Cup in 2018, so don’t expect Gregg Berhalter to take his foot off the pedal…especially against a Panama team that actually made it Russia last summer.
Panama is working through some issues, as it has posted a 2-7-2 record since that World Cup appearance. Defender Walker Zimmerman insisted that this won’t deter the United States in its preparation.
“Obviously they’re a tough opponent in CONCACAF, we’ve had a lot of really good games with them,” defender Walker Zimmerman told MLS Soccer on Monday. “We saw them in January, but it’s a lot of different players coming into camp for them, so we expect a tough game. Same time, our goal is to win the group, we aren’t just satisfied advancing through and we set a goal to win the group beforehand. That’s certainly going to be on our mind and I know everyone will be up for it.”
Zimmerman scored a goal in the 80th minute in January’s 3-0 victory over Los Canaleros.
USA vs. Panama Chances & Predictions
The last few Gold Cup matchups between the teams have been extremely tight. In 2017, they tied 1-1 in the Group Stage. In 2015, they met twice: first, a 1-1 draw in the Group Stage and then a U.S. loss in penalty kicks in the third-place match. The last time the Americans won was in the 2013 final by a close 1-0 margin.
With Panama fading and the U.S. rising as of late, this looks like a good chance for a decisive win. However, that depends on the starting lineup, which Berhalter has been “cagey” about according to MLS Soccer.
“Part of us analyzing the game against Guyana is saying ‘OK, we need to take another step as a group, we need to keep progressing as a group,’ it made more sense to play the same lineup,” Berhalter explained. “So we looked at who performed well at their position, who was able to keep their spot and we found that everyone was able to keep their spot in this case. As we go into the Panama game, the guys are feeling good right now. So for us, it’s assessing where everyone is and then making the appropriate decisions.”
According to Jeffrey Carlisle of ESPN, Berhalter may use almost the full roster. That may mean fewer minutes for typical starters such as Michael Bradley and Christian Pulisic.
Expect healthy substitutions on the backline and in the forwards. Against a Panama team on the decline, look for the Americans to keep reasserting itself. The pick here is 3-1.
Starting XI for U.S. Men vs. Panama
USMNT Roster for Gold Cup
|1||GK Zach Steffen|
|2||D Nick Lima|
|3||D Omar Gonzalez|
|4||M Michael Bradley|
|5||D Walker Zimmerman|
|6||M Wil Trapp|
|7||F Paul Arriola|
|8||M Weston McKennie|
|9||F Gyasi Zardes|
|10||M Christian Pulisic|
|11||F Jordan Morris|
|12||GK Sean Johnson|
|13||D Tim Ream|
|14||D Reggie Cannon|
|15||M Cristian Roldan|
|16||D Daniel Lovitz|
|17||F Jozy Altidore|
|18||F Jonathan Lewis|
|19||D Matt Miazga|
|20||M Djordje Mihailovic|
|21||F Tyler Boyd|
|22||GK Tyler Miller|
|23||D Aaron Long|