The men’s USA soccer team take on Panama in another important 2018 World Cup qualifier on Tuesday (10pm ET on beIN Sports). Here is our match preview, concluding with betting predictions and picks.
Bruce Arena’s charges thrashed Honduras in their previous encounter on Friday night, running out 6-0 winners in their current manager’s first competitive match in charge since he replaced Jurgen Klinsmann for a second spell in charge of his country last November.
It was a superb showing and outcome for USMNT, who had previously been rock bottom of the Hexagonal in the final round of CONCACAF qualification. That emphatic triumph lifted them up to fourth spot, although there remains a long way to go and it is still far too early for players, staff or supporters to be celebrating a successful campaign, particularly as Honduras are now propping up the six-team standings.
Nevertheless, it should be acknowledged that the United States were excellent on Friday, as they demonstrated an attacking potency which had been lacking towards the end of Klinsmann’s tenure. Christian Pulisic (pictured) was one of the stars of the show, the Borussia Dortmund man thriving in a central role, but the majority of the post-match headlines went instead to Clint Dempsey, the frontman who completed his hat-trick in the 54th minute at the Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California.
Sebastian Lletget, Pulisic and Michael Bradley also got their names on the scoresheet as Jorge Luis Pinto’s side were blown away by a resurgent Team USA outfit, who will now be looking to replicate their performance against Panama.
Hernan Dario Gomez’s men have amassed four points from their three matches in the process so far, drawing 0-0 with Mexico, beating Honduras by a goal to nil, and losing by the same scoreline to Trinidad and Tobago. Panama are still awaiting their first appearance at a World Cup finals tournament, but there have been several signs of optimism for the nation in recent years. Los Canaleros have reached the semi-finals of the last three editions of the Gold Cup, while they also came close to booking a place at Brazil 2014.
Arena lined his team up in a 4-4-2 formation in the destruction of Honduras last time out, and will probably keep faith with the same setup against the Panamanians. Fabian Johnson, Bobby Wood and DeAndre Yedlin all remain sidelined through injury, with Lletget, John Brooks, Jordan Morris and Michael Orozco joining them on the absentee list.
Timothy Chandler and Jermaine Jones are available for selection once more following suspension, though, but goalkeeper Brad Guzan will play no part as his wife prepares to give birth. Dempsey and Jozy Altidore will probably continue up top, although Pulisic could be shifted out wide as Arena looks to provide his side with greater security in central midfield at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City.
Panama’s squad of players contains a number of United States-based stars, including Miguel Camargo (New York City), Anibal Godoy (San Jose Earthquakes), Amir Murillo (New York Red Bulls), Adolfo Machado (Houston Dynamo) and Roman Torres (Seattle Sounders). Veteran strikers Blas Perez and Luis Tejada will be looking to add to their combined international goal tally of 84, while Atletico Bucaramanga’s experienced midfielder Gabriel Gomez will be a key figure in the engine room.
Panama will not make things easy for the visitors, but it is probably worth backing the United States to come out on top. Arena’s men will be full of confidence after their belief-boosting 6-0 win prior to the weekend. They also have the attacking quality to break down a rather stubborn Panama outfit. An away win with both teams to score could be the way to go here.
So these are this preview’s predictions and betting picks:
- The United States men’s national team to beat Panama with both teams to score at +325 betting odds with Bovada Sportsbook. If you simply want to back the USA to win, then you can get +105 with the same bookmaker.
- Christian Pulisic to score at any time. There are no odds available on this option at the time of writing but, of all the online betting sites, it is Bovada that may prove your best bet closer to the start time of the game.