USMNT vs Panama Preview: USA Looks to Stay Top of the Table


The USMNT travels to Panama for their second World Cup qualifier of this FIFA-designated international break. The mood in the US camp has definitely improved after Ricardo Pepi’s brace secured all three points in Texas against Jamaica. The win against the Reggae Boyz also saw the USA take the top spot after four games in the octagonal.

A win here against Panama would signal a significant change in form after a slow start to the 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign. In the ill-fated 2018 campaign, the USA could only manage a 1-1 tie away, before defeating Panama 4-0 at home.

 Squad rotation is the word on everyone’s lips. Weston McKennie, Zack Steffen, and Antonee Robinson are all heading straight to Ohio with the England-based duo not risking travel to the red zone while Weston McKennie had an MRI after experiencing some quad soreness and will not be risked.

With all that in mind, let’s take a look at how the Stars and Stripes could potentially line up at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez Gutierrez.

After wrongly predicting Zack Steffen will line up in goals last time out, I won’t be making that prediction again. The New England Revs gloveman Matt Turner should line up in goals.

As a Twitter user pointed out to me, he is the only GK in the squad who is No. 1 for his club and he managed a clean sheet against Jamaica—so I see no need for change here.

In the full-back positions, I see Sergio Dest getting rest and DeAndre Yedlin coming in to play right-back. Left-back is a tricky one with no Antonee Robinson, so I’m going for Atlanta United youngster George Bello to make his qualification debut.

Miles Robinson and Walker Zimmerman will likely continue in the heart of defense but don’t be surprised if Chris Richards gets a run in this one.

Tyler Adams continues to shield defense from midfield, whilst Yunus Musah and Luca De La Torre could play in more advanced midfield roles.

Adams was tremendous against Jamaica and is a real leader in this youthful USMNT roster.

Upfront, I don’t really see much changing. 18-year-old superstar Ricardo Pepi will play as the striker, with Brenden Aaronson on the left. Tim Weah will play on the right. This could be the attacking triumvirate for years to come for the national side—and what an exciting attacking trio it is.

The Stars and Stripes should make it two wins from two here and cement themselves in the automatic qualification spots for Qatar 2022.


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