It may have been lost in the euphoria of Friday night’s World Cup Qualification saving 6-0 shellacking of Honduras but the U.S. MNT lost two more players in San Jose ahead of Tuesday night’s road match in Panama.
Sebastian Lletget hobbled off in the 18th minute after jump starting the Friday night massacre with his fifth-minute goal, replaced by Alejandro Bedoya. Lletget attempted to play on after receiving a hard challenge before succumbing. The L.A. Galaxy man appeared to be seriously injured but tests revealed only a sprained foot and the versatile midfielder should back in action soon, just not by Tuesday night.
First-choice center back John Brooks put in an impressive 70-minute shift against Honduras before departing with what was eventually labeled a sinus infection. Bruce Arena initially indicated that Brooks would travel with the team to Panama but those plans were changed and Brooks was sent home.
Reinforcements arrived in the form of Jermaine Jones, who missed out Friday due to yellow card suspension, and Tijuana midfielder/wingback Paul Arriola. Arena had added Chris Wondolowski for the Honduras match, although the Earthquakes striker did not see any action in his home stadium.
Jones figures to step into Arena’s starting 11 as the U.S. look follow up Friday night’s feel good win and propel themselves further up the Hex standings. The win over Honduras moved the Americans up to fourth place from the bottom of the six-team group, aka The Hexagonal, or The Hex.
The U.S. holds an 11-1-4 all-time edge over the Canaleros, including a 5-0-1 record in World Cup Qualifiers, and a 2-0-1 mark in WCQ played in Panama City. The most famous U.S. win over Panama came at the same Estadio Rommel Fernandez that will host Tuesday’s game. In the final game of the 2013 Hex, with a place in Brazil already booked, the Americans scored twice in stoppage time to prevent Panama from making its first-ever trip to the World Cup.
Panama earned a small measure of revenge in the 2015 edition of the Gold Cup, claiming third place from the U.S. after topping the hosts on penalty kicks.
Sitting third behind Mexico (7pts) and Costa Rica (6pts) Panama’s World Cup hopes remain very much alive so the Americans will be facing a motivated appointment.
Here is the updated U.S. MNT roster.
GOALKEEPERS (3): David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes; 0/0), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids; 34/0), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake; 0/0)
DEFENDERS (8): DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo; 33/6), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City; 10/1), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/ENG; 20/2), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca/MEX; 13/0), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 3/0), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna/MEX; 1/0), Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas; 0/0), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City; 16/3)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas; 1/0), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana/MEX; 1/1), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union; 7/0), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC/CAN; 32/6), Jermaine Jones (LA Galaxy; 16/0), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls; 18/2), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire; 0/0), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers; 4/0), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 6/3)
FORWARDS (3): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC/CAN; 35/16), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC; 37/17), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes; 0/0)