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Orlando City Stadium to host USMNT-Panama in World Cup qualifier

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Expect a hot and humid one when the U.S. Men’s National Team plays its final home match as part of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

U.S. Soccer announced on Monday that the USMNT will play Panama at Orlando City Stadium in Orlando, Florida as Bruce Arena’s side looks to book its place in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Arena and co. will take on Panama on October 6 before playing its final WCQ four days later down in the Caribbean when the Stars and Stripes meet Trinidad & Tobago.

Through four rounds of play, the USMNT currently sits in fourth place in the Hexagonal with four points. The U.S. trails leaders Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama as things stand, but the Americans will be vying hard for a top-three position in an attempt of automatically qualifying for the World Cup for an eighth consecutive cycle.

The Americans have previously played just one WCQ in the state of Florida, which came back in 1980.

Report: Last two home USMNT World Cup qualifier venues set

Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel via AP
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The Hex is passing through Orlando and Harrison, according to a report from Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl.

Wahl says the U.S. will host Costa Rica at Red Bull Arena in September, and Orlando will host the October qualifier against Panama, whom the U.S. drew in Panama City.

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The U.S. last played a World Cup qualifier in Florida late last year when it defeated Trinidad and Tobago 4-0 in Jacksonville. That was the first USMNT match in Florida since 2014. Orlando City Stadium opened this year.

The Yanks have only played thrice at Red Bull Arena, all friendlies. The only win was over Turkey in the send-off series before the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Police arrest 7 suspects in slaying of Panama’s Amilcar Henriquez

Saturday, April 15, 2017. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco, File
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PANAMA CITY (AP) Panamanian authorities say they’ve arrested seven people in the slaying of national soccer team midfielder Amilcar Henriquez.

The prosecutor’s office says the suspects were arrested in the Colon region on the country’s Atlantic coast, where Henriquez was shot to death on Saturday. Three of them are reported to be minors.

Sunday’s prosecution statement doesn’t suggest a motive for the killing, but there’s no evidence that a robbery was involved.

Authorities say a gunman shot the 33-year-old Henriquez several times, killing at least one other person and wounding a third.

Henriquez had been playing for Panama in World Cup qualifiers and for the local team Arabe Unido.

Panama international Henriquez killed in shooting

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There is sad news from Panama as national team midfielder Amilcar Henriquez was killed in a drive-by shooting outside his home in the province of Colon, Panama.

Henriquez, 33, played for Arab Unido of the Panamanian League and he also had stops at Independiente Medellin and America de Cali in Colombia, plus many other teams in central and south America.

Affectionately nicknamed ‘Mickey,’ Henriquez was a regular for Los Canaleros in the current CONCACAF 2018 World Cup qualifiers where Panama currently sit in third place in the Hexagonal.

He won 75 caps for Panama and came on as a sub in the USMNT’s 1-1 draw in Panama City in March.

Arena reacts to USMNT draw, expects CONCACAF fight to end

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Bruce Arena didn’t enjoy watching Tuesday’s 1-1 draw between the United States and Panama, but he’s not upset with the result.

“The referee didn’t blow his whistle too much, and that’s the way the game looked for 90 minutes,” Arena said.

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Arena’s Yanks struggled to find their flow in the draw, ravaged by injuries to their back line. Arena praised his back four for their performance in difficult circumstances on the road with new teammates.

And he’s feeling a lot better than a week ago, when the U.S. had zero points and sat last in the table.

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“We’re obviously in better shape with four points in two games. We’ve made progress. Every game in qualifying is going to be critical for every team. Everyone’s in it. It’s going to be a battle for the second, third, and fourth spots.”

The Americans’ next World Cup qualifier is June 8 against Trinidad and Tobago before a June 11 road trip to Azteca to face Mexico.