Arena: USA could make 4-5 changes for Panama qualifier

Kyle Terada
The U.S. national team coach says there could be adjustments to his lineup beyond finding replacements for Sebastian Lletget and John Brooks.

Coach Bruce Arena expects to make "as many as four or five" changes to his lineup for the U.S. national team's World Cup qualifier against Panama on Tuesday.

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The U.S. rolled to a 6-0 win over Honduras on Friday in San Jose, California, but will make at least two changes to the lineup after releasing Sebastian Lletget (foot) and John Brooks (sinus infection) from the squad. Tim Ream and Matt Besler are candidates to step in for Brooks at left center back, while Lletget's midfield role likely will be filled by Alejandro Bedoya or Jermaine Jones.

Arena, however, hinted Monday he could make further adjustments.

"We won't have a lot of changes but we must have a couple at a minimum with the loss of Lletget and Brooks," Arena said at a news conference. "There will be some changes, perhaps as many as four or five, but we'll see after training today before we finalize our team."

Having sat in the Hexagonal basement since opening CONCACAF's final stage of qualifying with back-to-back losses in November, the U.S. surged to fourth place with the victory against Honduras.

A win over third-place Panama would move the U.S. into one of the three automatic qualifying slots, but Arena isn't getting ahead of himself in the wake of Friday's blowout.

"We are not overconfident," Arena said. "We know we are playing against a very good opponent, and realize every time we play in a World Cup qualifying game on the road in CONCACAF it will be a very difficult match."