Michael Bradley: “We have to understand it’s going to be a very difficult game here on Tuesday night and we have the mentality we need more points. We want three.” (Andy Mead/YCJ Photo)
PANAMA CITY, Panama – No one has to remind U.S. captain Michael Bradley that Friday night’s 6-0 thrashing of Honduras was only the start of the Americans’ digging out of their World Cup qualifying hole.
They know they still need points if they want to earn a berth to their eighth consecutive World Cup as they try for a win against Panama at Estadio Rommel Fernandez Tuesday night.
“We know just because of one good result we’re not out of the woods yet,” Bradley said. “We have to understand it’s going to be a very difficult game here on Tuesday night and we have the mentality we need more points. We want three.”
The U.S. (1-2-0, 3 points) earned three points Friday night, a result that boosted the squad from last to fourth place in the CONCACAF Hexagonal.
“We’re going to play in a way to give ourselves a real chance to win the game,” Bradley said. “If we take one, so be it. We’ve got to follow up the good performance with another.”
The Americans face a Panamanian team (1-1-1, 4) that could very well be a hungry one after suffering a 1-0 defeat at Trinidad & Tobago Friday.
“The result the other night will not sit well with them,” Bradley said. “We expect that playing at home they’ll come out and really be aggressive and try to use the support, tilt the bar in their favor.”
In World Cup qualifying, the U.S. has never lost to Panama (5-0-1), but has struggled against its foes in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Los Canaleros handed the Americans their first Gold Cup loss on home soil in 2011 and earned third-place honors in 2015, winning 3-2 in a shootout after a 1-1 draw.
So, there is a lot of respect for the Central American team in the USA camp.
“We know them pretty well, playing against them as a national team many times over the years,” Bradley said. “Another part of it now a lot of their players play in MLS and are teammates and opponents of ours.”
Panama has seven Major League Soccer players on its roster — defenders Roman Torres (Seattle Sounders), Harold Cummings (San Jose Earthquakes), Michael Murillo (New York Red Bulls) and Adolfo Machado (Houston Dynamo), midfielders Anibal Godoy (San Jose Earthquakes), Armando Cooper (Toronto FC) and Miguel Camargo (New York City FC).
Goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, who performs for Dimano Bucharest (Romania), also played for U.S. head coach Bruce Arena when both were with the LA Galaxy.
“We have a lot a respect for them” Bradley said. “They have a unique and interesting blend of skill and athleticism that always challenges us in a big way.”