Beau will be here soon. Meanwhile, here’s a quick preview of today’s game from our friends at the Associated Press:
With two World Cup qualifiers remaining, the United States is headed to a confrontation Panama In Orlando knowing that winning our last home game would be key before we went all the way to the finish.
The United States beat Panama 4-0 in October 2017 with Christian Pulisic scoring the first goal and making the second. Just four days after needing a draw, the Americans failed in a 2-1 defeat to Trinidad and Tobago, the rock bottom in American football that ended a seven-game winning streak in a row at the World Cup.
“Every game comes with different pressures, and of course we feel that,” goalkeeper Zach Steffen said on Saturday. “We’re aware of the emotions, our feelings going around, and it’s kind of just about putting those in the back and getting out there and playing the game we’ve been playing our whole lives.”
Canada leads the CONCACAF qualifiers with 25 points, and the United States is in second place with 22 points, ahead of Mexico on goal difference. Costa Rica is fourth with 19, and Panama is fifth with 18. The top three nations qualified for this year’s World Cup, and fourth qualified to a playoff against Oceania champions, most likely New Zealand.
The United States can win on Sunday and Costa Rica fail to beat El Salvador or draw if Los Ticos you lose. The US lottery won’t guarantee worse than a qualifying point. With a difference of nine goals to two for Costa Rica, a win would put the United States in a position to head to Costa Rica at most to avoid an asymmetric defeat.
“It’s really important that we don’t get ahead of ourselves,” said United States coach Greg Berhalter. “I know there are similarities to last time, but we’re looking forward. I don’t think this is a squad that looks back. We acknowledge what has happened in the past. It’s part of who we are as players on the United States national team and our program. We admit it, but we have to crack Our own way, and tomorrow is the time to do it.”
Goalkeeper Matt Turner, right back Sergino Dest, defender Chris Richards, midfielders Weston McKinney and Brendan Aaronson have also been suspended, reserve right back Deandre Yadlin has been suspended, winger Tim Weah and third right back Reggie Cannon are out with Covid-19. Chuck Moore was brought in from Spain to meet the team in Orlando and appears likely to start at right-back.
The United States came out of Thursday’s goalless draw against Mexico at high altitude in Mexico City, when the Americans had better chances. The United States followed up on emotional highs in their home win over El Tree in November with a bumpy 1-1 draw with Jamaica.
“It was a completely different atmosphere, and we knew it was going to be a tough, ugly match and something we had to get over,” Stephen said. “This time around, I think getting a point in the Azteca, all the energy and the emotions put in there, we didn’t go up that much, we didn’t go down that much. Coming back to Orlando, where we’re all focused, just sort of to stay in the moment.”
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