WITH USA already confirming their place in the CONCACAF Gold Cup knockout stage, can Panama pinch a vital result to secure their own progress? Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) takes a look at the betting.
Panama v USA | Tuesday 02.30 | BT Sport 1
The USA have already booked their place in the CONCACAF Gold Cup knockout stages following successive victories over Haiti and Honduras but those wins have raised more questions than answers regarding the Stars and Stripes prospects of successfully defending their continental crown.
In both outings the US have been made to work doubly hard for the points and so with progression already guaranteed and Jurgen Klinsmann expected to ring the changes again, it’s understandable seeing the Group A table-toppers on the drift.
Klinsmann made seven changes for their 1-0 scrap against Haiti, changing his entire back four. It was the 13th different back line the US has used in the 15 games since last summer's World Cup and the unfamiliarity amongst the starting XI could work against the Americans when they come up against a motivated Panama team.
Hernan Dario Gomez's Panama are a point clear of Honduras and Haiti with two points after playing out a 1-1 draw against the Hondurans on Friday. Victory would secure second place in the pool but there’s extra motivation for Los Canaleros too – they’ve heartbreaking memories from recent battles with the US.
The Americans have knocked Panama out of the last five Gold Cups, including wins in the 2005 and 2013 finals. But the US’s 3-2 win in 2014 World Cup qualifying knocked Panama out of a play-off spot thanks to two stoppage-time goals. Los Canaleros are still recovering.
USA might be in the midst of a six-game winning streak but they’ve struggled to contain both opposition attacks in their Gold Cup campaign so far and I’m hopeful Panama can get something from their clash on Monday night. Ladbrokes are offering the weird 1030/1000 price on Panama +0.75 in the Asian Handicap market and that appeals.
Should Panama lose by a solitary goal, we’ll only lose half of our stake. But should they hold the USA to a draw or grab a vital victory, we’ll be in profit. Considering how the US have laboured in their opening two games, the raft of changes likely plus Panama’s need for a result makes the odds-against offering a fair selection.
Panama v USA – Panama +0.75 Asian Handicap (1030/1000 Ladbrokes)