USA vs. Panama: Americans Will Ride Momentum to Easy Victory

Richard Langford@@noontide34Correspondent IJune 12, 2013

KINGSTON, JAMAICA - JUNE 07:  Team USA poses for a picture before their game against Jamaica in the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier at National Stadium on June 7, 2013 in Kingston, Jamaica.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Buoyed by picking up three points with a 2-1 road win over Jamaica in World Cup Qualifying on Friday, the United States men will pick up three more by easily handling Panama at 10 p.m. ET on Tuesday at CenturyLink Field, in Seattle, Wa. 

The Americans currently sit tied atop their hexagonal with Costa Rica and Mexico with seven points. However, Mexico has played one more game than both the Americans and Costa Rica. 

Panama is right behind this group with six points. They will be further behind after this match. 

Neither of these teams will be at full strength. For the Americans, Jermaine Jones is recovering from a concussion and Graham Zusi has amassed too many yellow cards. 

Zusi was instrumental the last time these two met. That came in a 2012 friendly, when he netted the game's only goal to help the Americans win 1-0, and he's been in good form as of late.

Still, despite these absences, the Americans shouldn't complain. Panama's striker, Blas Perez, is battling gastroenteritis and will miss this contest. 

This is a big blow to Panama's attack. Perez, 32, has 29 international goals, and two of those have come against the Americans. He is also in good form this year, with five goals in 10 MLS games for FC Dallas. 

So, the stingy American defense will have one less piece to worry about on Panama's attack, and it is hard to see how Panama will find a way to score. 

While the loss of Jones is a blow to the Americans' midfield, that mostly comes on the offensive side. On Friday, Geoff Cameron took Jones' place in the lineup. Cameron is a defense-first midfielder who helps solidify the Americans in that aspect of the game.  

Still, scoring goals can be a difficult task for this group, but they are showing signs of life. Most notable is Jozy Altidore. Altidore was mired in a slump that hadn't seen him score an international goal since November of 2011. Now he's scored goals in the last two U.S. matches. 

Of course, Zusi assisted on those goals, and as we mentioned, he will not be playing in this one. While his absence will be felt, the Americans will be able to grind out a goal or two as they stifle the Panama attack and control possession. 

The Americans will take down Panama, 2-0. 

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