Five Things to Know about Panama (2024)

The USMNT meets Panama in its second match of Copa América 2024, as the Group C counterparts kickoff at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga. on Thursday, June 27 at 6 p.m. ET (FOX, Univision, TUDN, FDP Radio).

The Americans are coming off of a 2-0 victory over Bolivia in the team’s tournament opener in Arlington, Texas on Sunday night. Following the match, The USMNT will finish the group stage against Uruguay in Kansas City, Mo. on Monday, July 1 at 9 p.m. ET.

The Panamanians lost to Uruguay 3-1 in their opening game on Sunday night. They will meet Bolivia in their final Group C contest at Inter&Co Stadium in Orlando, Fla. on July 1.

The top two teams in each group will qualify for the quarterfinals.

FOOTBALLING HISTORY

Los Canaleros competed at Copa América Centenario in 2016, finishing third in Group D with a 1-2-0 record. They edged out Bolivia 2-1 in their opener, with forward Blas Pérez scoring his second goal in the 87th minute. Panama lost to Argentina 5-0 in its next encounter, as Lionel Messi completed a second half hat trick. The Central Americans bowed out of the tournament with a 4-2 loss to Chile. Miguel Camargo gave them an early 1-0 lead before Chile came back with three consecutive scores. Abdiel Arroyo tallied a late goal for Panama.

The Panamanians have qualified for one FIFA World Cup, the 2018 competition in Russia. They dropped all three of their group-stage matches. They have won Copa Centroamericana once (2009), securing the runners-up spot twice (2007, 2017).

Panama has reached the knockout of the Concacaf Gold Cup 10 of the last 11 tourneys, losing to Mexico in the 2023 final, 1-0. Midfielder Gabriel Gómez has made the most appearances wearing the Panama jersey (148), while the late Luis Tejada is the all-time leader in goals (43). Tejada, a forward, passed away in January. Forward Blas Pérez is next on the list with 42.

USMNT VS. PANAMA

The USA has recorded a 17-2-7 mark all-time against the Central American side.

In the very first meeting, the USA overcame a 1-0 halftime deficit to rally for a 2-1 win in Dallas on July 14, 1993. Eric Wynalda (68th minute) and Thomas Dooley (73rd minute) scored. Percibal Piggot found the net for Panama.

The teams would not meet again for another 12 years. On July 24, 2005, in the Concacaf Gold Cup final, the U.S. emerged as champions by winning in penalty kicks 3-1 after playing to a scoreless draw in East Rutherford, N.J. Goalkeeper Kasey Keller saved one PK as two other attempts failed to hit the target. Brad Davis converted the game-winner after Santino Quaranta and Landon Donovan put theirs away.

The USMNT lost a Gold Cup group stage match for the first time to Panama, suffering a 2-1 defeat in Tampa, Fla. on June 11, 2011. Luis Tejada (19th minute) and Gabriel Gomez (36th-minute PK) gave Panama a 2-0 halftime advantage. Clarence Goodson pulled one back for the U.S. in the 66th minute. Eleven days later, on June 22, the Americans exacted revenge as they registered a 1-0 semifinal triumph in Houston as Clint Dempsey put away a Donovan feed in the 77th minute. Tim Howard earned the shutout.

The USA captured its fifth Gold Cup crown with a 1-0 triumph at Soldier Field in Chicago on July 28, 2013. Brek Shea scored off a rebound in the 68th minute, while head coach Jürgen Klinsmann watched from a luxury suite while serving a suspension he incurred during the semifinals.

In the Gold Cup third-place match on July 25, 2015, in Chester, Pa., the teams played to a 1-1 deadlock, although the Panamanians walked away victors after winning the shootout 3-2. Reserve goalkeeper Luis Mejia saved penalty kicks from DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Bradley. Harold Cummings converted the winner. Roberto Nurse had given the Central America side a 55th-minute lead, but Clint Dempsey countered with his seventh goal of the competition 15 minutes later.

The teams split their two qualifying matches for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The Panamanians recorded a 1-0 home win behind Anibal Godoy's 54th-minute goal on Oct. 10, 2021, before the USA rolled to a 5-1 triumph in Orlando on March 22, 2022. Christian Pulisic led the way with a hat-trick, and Paul Arriola and Jesús Ferreira added single tallies.

In their most recent encounter, the Central Americans reached the Gold Cup final, winning a shootout, 5-4, after a 1-1 tie in San Diego on July 12, 2023. Adalberto Carrasquilla converted the decisive penalty kick past goalkeeper Matt Turner. Panama keeper Orlando Mosquera denied attempts by Christian Roldan and Jesús Ferreira. Iván Anderson scored his first international goal in the ninth minute and Ferreira equalized six minutes later.

PANAMA MANAGER

Denmark native Thomas Christiansen took over Panama's head coaching reins on July 23, 2020, replacing Américo Gallego. He has guided the Central Americans to a 29-14-17 mark.

The 51-year-old Christiansen played for several clubs in his native country, as well as Spain and Germany during a 15-year professional career. His teams included Barcelona, Sporting Gijon, Racing Santander, Oviedo and Villarreal in Spain and with Bochum and Hannover in Germany. He was the Bundesliga's joint-leading goal-scorer with Bayern Munich's Giovane Élber during the 2002-03 season. He played twice for Spain's national team, scoring one goal.

Upon turning to coaching in 2013, he’s since led AEK Larmaca and APOEL in Greece, Leeds United in England and Royale Union Saint-Gilloise in Belgium before making the jump to Panama.

RECENT MATCHES

Since the start of the year, the Panamanians have recorded a 2-3-0 mark in the Concacaf Nations League, 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying and a lone friendly.

In the CNL semifinals in Arlington, Texas on March 21, Panama dropped a 3-0 decision to Mexico. Three days later in the third-place match, the Central Americans lost 1-0 to Jamaica, which prevailed on Dexter Lembikisa's 42nd-minute goal.

Last month, the Panamanians registered a pair of WCQ wins. They started with a 2-0 home victory over Guyana on June 6, scoring their goals three minutes apart. Cristian Martínez found the net in the 62nd minute, before José Luis Rodríguez in the 65th. In what was considered a Montserrat home game in Managua, Nicaragua on June 9, Panama secured a 3-1 triumph. Jovani Welch (40th minute), José Fajardo (61st minute) and Rodríguez (70th minute) scored. Goalie Luis Mejia backstopped both victories.

In its lone Copa América warm-up contest, Panama lost to Paraguay in Panama City, 1-0. Gustavo Velázquez connected for the lone goal in the 25th minute for the visiting side.

In their 2024 Copa América opener on Sunday, June 23, the Panamanians dropped a 3-1 decision to Uruguay in Miami, Fla. Maximiliano Araújo scored in the 16th minute, before Darwin Núñez (85th minute) and Matías Viña (90+1) added late goals for the South Americans. Michael Amir Murillo tallied four minutes into injury time for Panama.

ROSTER

Panama's roster has been in flux. Manager Thomas Christiansen had selected 26 players for Copa América, but captain and midfielder Anibal Godoy (team-high 140 international appearances) was forced to drop out due to a left thigh injury. Christiansen called in veteran defender Harold Cummings in his place, but he declined to join the team. That left the roster at 25 players.

Los Canaleros don’t have any players from their domestic leagues. Players on the roster perform in 18 countries - Azerbaijan, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, England, France, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Mexico, Peru, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovakia Ukraine, United States, and Uruguay.

One player to watch is central midfielder Adalberto Carrasquilla, who plays for the Houston Dynamo in MLS. After connecting for the game-winner in the shootout win over the USMNT in the semifinals, Carrasquilla was eventually awarded the Golden Ball at the 2023 Concacaf Golf Cup.

Four other players U.S. soccer fans might be familiar with include defenders Michael Amir Murillo, who played with the New York Red Bulls in 2017, Red Bulls II's Omar Valencia, who made one appearance for the MLS side, and Carlos Harvey, who competes for Minnesota United.

With Godoy absent, defender Eric Davis leads the squad with 89 appearances. Captain and midfielder Yoel Bárcenas is next with 86.

Forward José Fajardo is the top goal-scorer with 11 goals in 47 appearances. He and forward Ismael Díaz (nine goals) play for Universidad Católica in Ecuador.

PANAMA ROSTER BY POSITION

GOALKEEPERS (3): Luis Mejía (Nacional/URU; 53/0), César Samudio (Marathón/HON; 2/0), Orlando Mosquera (Maccabi Tel Aviv; ISR; 25/0)

DEFENDERS (9): Eric Davis (Košice/Slovakia/SVK; 89/7), José Córdoba (Norwich City/ENG; 14/0) César Blackman (Slovan Bratislava/SVK; 21/0), Michael Amir Murillo (Marseille/FRA; 74/9), Roderick Miller (Turan Tovuz/AZE; 41/2), Iván Anderson (Fortaleza/COL; 11/1), Eduardo Anderson (Saprissa/CRC; 8/0), Edgardo Fariña (Municipal/GUA; 3/0), Omar Valencia (New York Red Bulls II/USA; 2/0)

MIDFIELDERS (10): Yoel Bárcenas (Mazatlán/MEX; 86/9), Adalberto Carrasquilla (Houston Dynamo/USA; 57/2), José Luis Rodríguez (Red Star Belgrade/SRB; 48/6), César Yanis (San Carlos/CRC; 47/3), Abdiel Ayarza (Cienciano/ PER; 27/4), Cristian Martínez (Al-Jandal/Saudi Arabia/KSA; 41/1), Freddy Góndola (Maccabi Bnei Reineh/ISR; 18/1), Jovani Welch (Académico de Viseu/POR; 16/1), Carlos Harvey (Minnesota United/USA; 5/1), Kahiser Lenis (Jaguares/COL; 4/2)

FORWARDS (3): Eduardo Guerrero (Zorya Luhansk/UKR; 9/0), Ismael Díaz (Universidad Católica/ECU; 40/9), José Fajardo (Universidad Católica/ECU; 47/11)

Five Things to Know about Panama (2024)

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