The U.S. Men’s National Team has a chance to secure a spot in the 2022 FIFA World Cup on Sunday when it faces Panama in Orlando, Florida. Kickoff from Exploria Stadium in Orlando is 7 p.m. ET.
After earning a critical road point against Mexico on Thursday, the USMNT can clinch qualification with a victory against Los Canaleros in its final home qualifier and a Costa Rica loss or draw in San Salvador. The USA could qualify with a draw should Costa Rica lose at El Salvador.
Defenders Reggie Cannon and DeAndre Yedlin are unavailable for Sunday’s match, so right back Shaq Moore was called into camp and arrived in Orlando on Thursday evening. Cannon is unavailable after testing positive for COVID ahead of Thursday’s match against Mexico, while Yedlin will serve a one-game suspension on Sunday after picking up his second yellow card of qualifying at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. First capped in 2018, Moore had a resurgent return to the National Team last summer, earning Best XI honors as he helped the USA win the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup.
Goalkeeper Zack Steffen, defender Miles Robinson, midfielder Tyler Adams and forward Jordan Pefok enter Sunday’s match on caution watch. Should any of them receive a yellow card vs. Panama, they will be suspended for the WCQ finale at Costa Rica on Wednesday.
Defender George Bello was added to the squad to replace injured defender Sergiño Dest, prior to the start of the qualifying window. Forward Brenden Aaronson was also ruled out of the roster after suffering an injury training with his club.
The USA is second of eight teams in the final round of Concacaf qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, with just two of 14 matches left to play. The USMNT can clinch its World Cup berth with a victory vs. Panama combined with a Costa Rica draw or loss at El Salvador. The U.S. can also qualify with a draw if Costa Rica loses at El Salvador.
The top three teams in the Octagonal qualify automatically for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, while the fourth-place team will participate in an intercontinental playoff against the winner of Oceania’s qualifying tournament. It’s a tight race at the top of the table as five teams are still alive for the three automatic berths and second through fifth are separated by just four points.
Sporting one of the world’s youngest player pools for this World Cup qualifying cycle, the USMNT has gained loads of experience since the Octagonal kicked off in September. Head coach Gregg Berhalter has twice fielded line-ups that were the USA’s youngest-ever in World Cup qualifying. Of the 26 players on the March roster, 17 return from January/February World Cup qualifying. Five players have double-digit WCQ caps: Christian Pulisic (21), DeAndre Yedlin (18), Kellyn Acosta (17), Tyler Adams (11) and Antonee Robinson (11).
The USA fell 1-0 to Panama in the teams’ first World Cup qualifying meeting on Oct. 10 in Panama City. After an undefeated four-game start to the Octagonal, Panama captain Anibal Godoy headed in a 54th-minute corner kick to snap a 13-game unbeaten streak for the U.S. On a steamy afternoon in Central America, both teams had trouble finding their rhythm on a soggy pitch at Estadio Rommel Fernandez.
Panama is currently fifth in the Octagonal standings, one point out of the fourth-place intercontinental playoff berth and four points out of the top three automatic qualifying spots. In its first match of the March window, Los Canaleros drew 1-1 with bottom-of-the-table Honduras at home. Forward Rolando Blackburn got Panama on the board midway through the first half, but Honduras answered after the break to steal a point in Panama City.
USMNT ROSTER BY POSITION – MARCH WORLD CUP QUALIFYING
GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest/ENG; 7/0), Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 9/0), Zack Steffen (Manchester City/ENG; 27/0)
DEFENDERS (10): George Bello (Arminia Bielefeld/GER; 6/0), Reggie Cannon (Boavista/POR; 24/1), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 22/3), Shaq Moore (Tenerife/ESP; 13/1), Erik Palmer-Brown (Troyes/FRA; 3/0), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 23/2), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United; 18/3), James Sands (Rangers/SCO; 7/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami; 72/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 26/3)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Kellyn Acosta (LAFC; 49/2), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER; 25/1), Gianluca Busio (Venezia/ITA; 8/0), Luca de la Torre (Heracles/NED; 5/0), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 14/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 31/0)
FORWARDS (8): Paul Arriola (FC Dallas; 43/8), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas; 7/2), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders; 44/10), Jordan Pefok (Young Boys/SUI; 9/1), Ricardo Pepi (Augsburg/GER; 10/3), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 46/18), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund; 10/4), Tim Weah (Lille/FRA; 21/2)
this article was compiled from materials supplied by US Soccer Federation.