USMNT – Panama will be another chance for American fans to see their young team develop on Monday (start time, 2:45pm ET) as the CONCACAF rivals square off in Wiener Neustadt, Austria in a friendly.
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Gregg Berhalter’s USMNT starting lineup for the draw at Wales had an average age of 22, as the talented youngsters dazzled on the ball but lacked a clinical edge in the final third.
Panama will be a tough test, as they lost 1-0 to Japan last week and they could meet the USMNT in CONCACAF 2022 World Cup qualifying, if they make it out of the first round of qualifying.
Berhalter is expected to rotated his squad to give even more youngsters valuable minutes, but he is mindful that there are very few opportunities for him to work with this squad before World Cup qualifying begins in July. Here’s everything you need to know ahead of USMNT – Panama.
As expected, Berhalter starts with a pure number nine up top as Nicholas Gioacchini gets the nod to make his full USMNT debut against Panama. Berhalter also shifted Sergino Dest to left back as Reggie Cannon starts at right back with Tim Ream partnering Matt Miazga at center back. Uly Llanez is the other change from the team which draw at Wales. In total the four changes show that Berhalter is keen to keep the core of this group together with McKennie, Adams, Musah and Reyna all starting together once again.
Richy Ledezma, Chituru Odunze, Chris Richards and Sebastian Soto are the four uncapped players in this squad and all four are on the bench.
𝐇𝐄𝐑𝐄 𝐖𝐄 𝐆𝐎! 👊🇺🇸
At 22 years, 154 days, tonight’s Starting XI vs. 🇵🇦 is the second youngest in #USMNT history.
— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) November 16, 2020
As for Panama, there will be plenty of familiar faces to USMNT fans but head coach Thomas Christiansen has been bringing through some younger talent in recent months. Goalkeeper Luis Meija was sent off late in their defeat against Japan on Friday, while Armando Cooper, Gabriel Torres, Harold Cummings and Anibal Godoy are among several former and current MLS players on the roster for Los Canaleros.
What they’re saying
Gregg Berhalter on the path ahead for his young squad: “When I first took over, we were switching guys left and right. Now, as we’re getting toward [qualifying], we’re starting to feel the urgency. This group won’t be in until March again, and then potentially Nations League [in June], and doubtfully for Gold Cup, so we’re basically going to have four more games together after this game. That’s a small number, so it is crucial that we get guys playing together and comfortable with each other…. We’re going to try to build on what we had last game, so it will most likely look similar but with some slightly different personnel.”
And Berhalter on facing Panama: “I think [facing Panama] is a great opportunity for some of the guys that aren’t as familiar with CONCACAF opponents to get that experience, so we’re really happy with this game.”
Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)
The USMNT (-223) are the heavy favorites, while Panama are big outsiders (+650) and the draw is listed at +320. Given that Berhalter plans to keep experimenting with his young side, a draw could be your best value bet here.
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USMNT – Panama prediction
The USMNT youngsters now have to back up their promising display against Wales with a convincing win against Panama, but we all know it doesn’t work like that. It all depends on how many changes Berhalter makes to his strongest XI, as on paper they should have enough to beat a Panama side which is in transition. I’m going for a narrow USA win. USMNT 2-1 Panama.
How to watch USMNT – Panama stream and start time
Kickoff: 2:45pm ET, Monday
TV Channel: Fox Sports 1, Unimas and TUDN
Online: Stream via Fox Sports