- Unbeaten United States is now in first place in final World Cup qualifying group with two wins and two draws
- Panama is fourth, three points further back with one win, one defeat and a pair of draws
- Read on for betting odds, a full preview and the best bet for Sunday, October 10th’s CONCACAF World Cup qualifying match
Gregg Berhalter’s United States squad will be entering Sunday evening’s match against Panama full of confidence after Thursday’s 2-0 win over Jamaica. Two goals from 18-year-old Ricardo Pepi means he now has more national team goals than caps. More importantly, he gives the Stars and Stripes a recognized cutting edge up front.
That edge will be needed against a Panama side that has so far conceded just twice in four games in the qualifying group. Thomas Christiansen’s team knows that a win here will draw it level with the U.S. on eight points after the first five of 14 World Cup qualifying games at this stage.
Panama vs USA Odds
|Panama vs USA||PAN +1.5 (-450) | USA -1.5 (+295)||PAN +340 | USA -105
|Ov 2.5 (+150) | Un 2.5 (-200)|
Odds as of October 9th at DraftKings
In Pepi They Trust
The first two games of Pepi’s international career have gone fairly well, to say the least. He’s scored a combined six goals in registering a pair of wins, with the FC Dallas striker scoring three of those goals.
Two USMNT games for @Ricardo_Pepi9:
■ Two winners
■ Two Man of the Match awards
■ Three goals
18 years old 👏 pic.twitter.com/ljsZpi70Po
— B/R Football (@brfootball) October 8, 2021
Given that the 18-year-old has the element of surprise in virtually every appearance he makes in these early international games, expect some of this early success to continue. However, it may be a stretch for him to continue averaging more than a goal a game. But given that he has averaged more than 0.5 goals per start in MLS this season, with 13 goals in 22 starts, productive games are seemingly a calling card for this striker.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) October 8, 2021
U.S. Riding The Momentum
While the U.S. is hoping to turn two straight wins into three here – and extending its unbeaten run to 14 straight games – of greater concern will be keeping the wins coming over Panama. Berhalter’s team will be aiming for a fifth straight win over Los Canaleros, and is now unbeaten in the rivalry over their previous six meetings.
Canada hang on to a massive 1-1 draw at the Estadio Azteca against Mexico.
— USMNT Only (@usmntonly) October 8, 2021
In fact, the Americans have officially lost just once in 23 games in the series, although they did technically lose the third-place match at the 2015 Gold Cup in a shootout.
Panama has never beaten the U.S. in World Cup qualifying, with just two draws versus six defeats in their eight meetings. To make matters worse for Christiansen’s team, the cumulative score in the eight games is 22-4 in the Americans’ favor.
A factor that will likely have a bearing on this result is the players not making the trip to Panama City.
USMNT 🇺🇸 news: Antonee Robinson, Zack Steffen and Weston McKennie won't travel to Panama for Sunday's World Cup qualifier.
— Roger Gonzalez (@RGonzalezCBS) October 8, 2021
Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie, defender Antonee Robinson and goalkeeper Zack Steffen will not factor in Sunday’s match, with McKennie nursing an injured quad. The other two don’t want to fail foul of the travel restrictions imposed by the British government as both play for English clubs.
Panama vs USA World Cup Qualifying Stats
Can Los Canaleros Bounce Back?
Panama arrives at Sunday’s game coming off its first defeat of this qualifying round, falling 1-0 in El Salvador last Thursday. In addition, the team lost 6-2 the previous time it played the U.S., in a friendly last November.
The team got its qualifying campaign off to a good start, however, winning 3-0 over Jamaica, with three separate goal scorers. Panama would also have been pleased with a point from its 1-1 home draw with Mexico, with Rolando Blackburn scoring his second goal of the qualifying round.
While Blackburn has been starting games, Christiansen also has the option of turning to Gabriel Torres, who is the country’s all-time leading scorer with 22 goals.
Best bet: Draw (+205)