After an impressive start to the Gold Cup campaign, the U.S. are seeking to round out the group stage in style against Panama.
While there may have been doubts over the quality of Gregg Berhalter’s side before the start of the tournament, these have been answered by thumping wins over Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, leaving the USMNT needing only a point to top Group D.
Standing in the way is a Panama side also in hot form in their opening two matches as they have recorded wins over the same two sides.
Can the Stars and Stripes keep the feel-good factor going?
|Game||Panama vs USA|
|Date||Wednesday, June 26|
|Time||2:00am BST / 9:00pm ET|
|Stream (US)||fubo TV (7-day free trial)|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States (US), the game can be watched on BeINSports and live and on-demand with fuboTV (7-day free trial) .
New users can sign up for a free seven-day trial of the live sports streaming service, which can be accessed via iOS, Android, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV as well as on a web browser.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
|Fox Sports 1 / Univision Deportes / UniMas||fubo TV (7-day free trial)|
In the United Kingdom (UK), the game will be available to watch via FreeSports.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
Squads & Team News
|Goalkeepers||Mejia, Calderon, Mosquera|
|Defenders||Palacios, Cummings, Escobar, Torres, Galvan, Machado, Davis, Murillo|
|Midfielders||Rodriguez, Sanchez, Barcenas, Cooper, Quintero, Godoy, Browne|
|Forwards||G. Torres, Blackburn, Fajardo, Arroyo|
Panama are not expected to shift from the 4-4-2 formation used in the two previous matches, with the only changes implemented coming in attack. As such, alterations for this encounter are not expected to be widespread.
Possible Panama starting XI: Mejia; Murillo, Cummings, R.Torres, Davis; Barcenas, Escobar, Cooper, Quinter; G.Torres, Arroyo
|Goalkeepers||Steffen, Johnson, Miller|
|Defenders||Lima, Gonzalez, Zimmerman, Ream, Cannon, Lovitz, Miazga, Long|
|Midfielders||Bradley, Trapp, McKennie, Pulisic, Roldan, Mihailovic|
|Forwards||Arriola, Zardes, Morris, Altidore, Lewis, Boyd|
USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter has refused to be drawn on his team selection ahead of this match, but a couple of changes in the starting XI are likely, with Daniel Lovitz and Wil Trapp among those likely to come in. Captain Michael Bradley could be rested.
Possible USMNT starting XI: Steffen; Lima, Long, Zimmerman, Lovitz; Pulisic, Trapp, McKennie; Arriola, Zardes, Boyd.
Betting & Match Odds
The U.S. are strong favourites to win this match with Bet365, priced 9/20. A draw is available at 3/1, while a shock Panama wins is on offer at 13/2.
Pre-tournament defeats against Jamaica and Venezuela had doubts swirling over the ability of the U.S. soccer team, but Gregg Berhalter and his squad have so far managed to put these to bed emphatically thanks to a strong showing.
After sweeping Guyana aside 4-0 in the opening match, Trinidad and Tobago was emphatically dismissed 6-0. The USMNT came strong in the closing 30 minutes, adding four goals between the 66th and 78th minute, with strikes from Aaron Long before the break and late on bookending these efforts.
Having been eliminated from 2018 World Cup qualification by the Caribbean islanders, there was a source of satisfaction not only in victory, but also the magnitude of it.
“I definitely had a little chip on my shoulder today and I hope you guys could see that,” Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic, who netted the fourth, told Fox Soccer after the game.
Berhalter, meanwhile, played down the significance of overcoming that particular opponent.
“For us, we advance to the next round,” he said. “That's important. Our focus was to prepare for this game knowing that if we'd be able to go to the next round. That was the focus of the group. Trinidad was in our way.”
Although knockout football is now assured, attacker Gyasi Zardes has underlined that the squad are going out with the intent on winning every match that they play.
“Every time we step on the field we want to make a statement,” he said. “We're trying to change the way the world views American soccer.”
While the U.S. impressed in the two matches, Panama have recorded a couple of two-goal victories against the same opponents, not playing especially well on either occasion.
They will hope, instead, to rise to the challenge against the Stars and Stripes, and the side 75th on the FIFA Ranking should prove to be the toughest test the Americans have faced so far in the competition.
Still, greater challenges lie ahead.