Men's World Cup qualifying match to be held in Orlando Friday

Men's World Cup qualifying match to be held in Orlando Friday

Javier Howell
October 8, 2017

Howard was a member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team. La Marea Roja has only lost one out of its last five games, recently coming off a dominant 3-0 win against Trinidad & Tobago.

"There really isn't much of a difference, which is part of why we have hard decisions to make", goalkeepers coach Matt Reis said. And wasn't it refreshing to see the US score early and then continue to drop the hammer instead of letting the opponent back in the game? With a win against Panama, the Americans would jump into third place, and would automatically qualify for 2018 as long as they can take care of business against Trinidad & Tobago, a team they already beat with relative comfort earlier in Hex play.

Presently locked at 1-1 on aggregate with a crucial away goal, if the Socceroos finish the job against Syria in the second leg of the Asian play-off in Sydney, it will have to wait until the following morning to find out exactly who their opponents will be in November.

Pulisic created the second goal when he played the ball between his feet and faked Michael Murillo on the left flank. The goal sent Panama home and Mexico into the fourth place playoff.

Another difference: The fourth-place Americans (2-3-3, 9 points) won't be able to qualify for Russian Federation on Friday.

The U.S. are still not guaranteed a spot at next year's World Cup, as results from Saturday's Costa Rica-Hondura match and Tuesday's final round will affect the outcome in the standings. A draw would change nothing between the two. But the emergence of Costa Rica as a force in CONCACAF, along with Panama and Honduras, who always put up a good fight, has put the Americans in a precarious situation.

The USMNT sits in a great position heading into the final slate of qualifying matches on Tuesday, October 10. Both teams are still in the hunt for a spot in the next World Cup out of the contested CONCACAF region and should provide an intense encounter. In fact, the USA have lost more matches at home during the Hex than away. A loss meant Panama was out completely.

After such a heart-breaking end to their last World Cup qualifying campaign, Panama will certainly be motivated to get the win in Orlando.

A win over the United States of America would clinch the Panamanians' first ever World Cup. "We've gotta get three points and then we're good". Panama was out, and Mexico was the one that would face New Zealand.

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Honduras, whose match in Costa Rica was put back a day because of adverse weather, also remain in the mix. That helps Panama not see this match as a daunting task.

"That kid killed us", Gomez said of Pulisic. However, the USA would still have to take care of business against Trinidad and Tobago.

Whatever the USA opts to do, players know they will be in for some kind of fight on the road.

While the US was impressive going forward, it was suspect in the back.

According to Paul Carr of ESPN, the US currently has an 83 percent chance to qualify for the World Cup right now. Escaping Mexico, Panama and Honduras with draws mean the US still have a chance.

Howard's groin surgery last winter affected his form and, according to Arena, made it more hard for him to play two worldwide matches amid a short turnaround. It had been 12 years since the Americans faced such stress in the final round and, regardless of Friday's outcome, their fate would be decided in the 10th and final match.

The second goal also originated in the US end, a counterattack in which Nagbe liberated Pulisic on the left wing.

When Pulisic first played for Borussia Dortmund against Real Madrid last month, the Spanish media dubbed him the American Luis Figo.

During the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, Panama were quite close to qualifying for the tournament but missed out by just a little.