Skip to content

In regional World Cup qualifying, don’t overlook Panama

Feb 5, 2013, 11:59 AM EST

Perez-Panama

So much of the coverage over the next two days around here will focus on the United States’ contest in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, as the final drive for Brazil 2014 begins.

But there are two other matches in the region that deserve our attention.  One is in Panama, where the new kids on the regional qualifier block have a massive opportunity in hosting Costa Rica.

Panama is the one team among six in final stage CONCACAF qualifying that has never been to a World Cup. Even little Honduras (a vastly improved program now doing big things internationally) went to the last World Cup, three years in South Africa.

The Panamanians have tough road ahead – but not an impossible one. The United States and Mexico will be heavily favored to grab two of the three spots available for automatic qualification.

Presumptive as it is, that leaves Costa Rica, Honduras, Jamaica and Panama battling for the final automatic berth. The fourth-place team faces Oceania’s first-place side in a final spot for Brazil 2014.

I like Honduras to grab the third spot, but not by much. (More on why I like Honduras later.) Could Panama sneak in, or perhaps grab that fourth-place spot? Absolutely.

This is the side that crashed into Bob Bradley’s Gold Cup effort two summers back, upsetting the United States in Florida in a match that helped push U.S. Soccer to make a change. Panama has a group that plays within itself, that understands roles and usually doesn’t try to work beyond them. I remember being impressed two years ago by how far the country’s soccer efforts had come, and by how hard the Panamanians worked for each other.

Show me a team with unity, structure, a tough defensive mindset and one motivated, quality striker (Blas Perez, pictured), I’ll show you a team that can be dangerous. More on Panama is here in this piece from Tropigol, including some words from Perez, who gets right to the heard of it:

We work hard, very hard. There’s a union, a harmony in this Panama team. We don’t fight with each other, we’re not greedy, and when we enter the pitch, we do it as one. Our solidarity is our strength.”

Latest Posts
  1. Liverpool 3-1 Bournemouth: Reds avoid upset, head to League Cup semi-finals

    Dec 17, 2014, 4:39 PM EST

    Raheem Sterling Getty Images

    Liverpool shook off their poor form to beat Bournemouth and qualify for the League Cup semi-final.

  2. Radamel Falcao wants Manchester United stay, unsure if it will happen

    Dec 17, 2014, 1:50 PM EST

    Can Falcao star for United? AP

    Falcao wants to stay at United. But should the Red Devils splash the cash on El Tigre?

  3. Men in Blazers podcast: Man United’s romp, Arsenal’s form and more

    Dec 17, 2014, 12:56 PM EST

    meninblazers

    Rog and Davo talk Manchester United’s shaming of Liverpool and Arsenal’s return to potency.

  4. American lawyer Michael Garcia resigns as FIFA’s ethics prosecutor

    Dec 17, 2014, 11:06 AM EST

    64th FIFA Congress 64th FIFA Congress

    Garcia walks away from FIFA after his appeal against how his own work on alleged corruption in the World Cup bid process was represented.

  5. Report: New England Revolution, Orlando City battling it out for Robinho

    Dec 17, 2014, 10:00 AM EST

    AC Chievo Verona v AC Milan - Serie A Getty Images

    Are two MLS teams fighting it out for the Brazilian winger?

  6. Liverpool’s injured Daniel Sturridge to link up with Boston Red Sox

    Dec 17, 2014, 9:20 AM EST

    Manchester City v Liverpool - Premier League Getty Images

    Liverpool’s star man to spend time with medical specialists from the Red Sox.

  7. VIDEO: Jose Fonte slams Southampton after defeat at third-tier Sheffield United

    Dec 17, 2014, 8:38 AM EST

    Swansea City v Southampton - Premier League Getty Images

    Saints have now lost five on the spin. The latest loss was the most embarrassing yet.

  8. Liverpool reportedly chasing Petr Cech, Guillermo Ochoa

    Dec 17, 2014, 7:58 AM EST

    Mexico's goalkeeper Ochoa takes part in a practice session at Azteca stadium in Mexico City AP

    After Mignolet is dropped, Reds are apparently lining up two replacements for January.

  9. Celtic offers free tickets to unemployed supporters for post-Christmas game

    Dec 16, 2014, 10:45 PM EST

    Celtic FC v FC Salzburg - UEFA Europa League Getty Images

    That’s a good look for the Scottish giants during this holiday season.

  10. Over there? Underwear? Can’t sue Cristiano Ronaldo if you can’t find Cristiano Ronaldo

    Dec 16, 2014, 9:52 PM EST

    Morocco Soccer Club World Cup AP

    As easy as Ronaldo serves up passes to teammates, it’s very difficult to serve him papers.

  11. MLS: Mauro Rosales is returning to Vancouver, and Alvas Powell’s a full-time Timber

    Dec 16, 2014, 9:00 PM EST

    Vancouver Whitecaps v FC Dallas Getty Images

    Portland acquired Powell’s rights from Portmore after carrying him on loan last season.

  12. A selection of Thierry Henry’s finest quotes

    Dec 16, 2014, 7:58 PM EST

    Red Bulls Henry celebrates after scoring against Impact during their MLS soccer match in Montreal Reuters

    “The moment I’ve got a ball at my feet, I’m happy.”

  13. Tuesday’s transfer rumor roundup: Everyone’s going to Liverpool; Cole back to London?

    Dec 16, 2014, 7:17 PM EST

    Slovakian international Marek Hamsik has been one of Italy's best players this season, scoring five times in as many games during Napoli's 6-0-1 start. (Photo: Getty Images.) Getty Images

    It’s officially the biannual time of year that is silly season in the world of transfer rumors.

  14. Report: GM Garth Lagerwey leaving Real Salt Lake for Seattle

    Dec 16, 2014, 6:09 PM EST

    mlssoccer.com mlssoccer.com

    RSL assistant coach Craig Waibel has been promoted to technical director by the club, as it looks to fill the void left by Lagerwey.

  15. Ronaldo, Isco combine for nifty goal in Real Madrid’s 4-0 Club World Cup win over Cruz Azul (video)

    Dec 16, 2014, 5:38 PM EST

    Morocco Soccer Club World Cup AP

    Sergio Ramos, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema also scored for Madrid, who waits for the Wednesday winner of Auckland City FC and San Lorenzo.

  16. League Cup roundup: Sheffield United shocks Saints, Chelsea also moves to semifinals

    Dec 16, 2014, 4:48 PM EST

    FBL-ENG-LCUP-DERBY-CHELSEA Getty Images

    The Blues and Blades will be joined by the winners of Wednesday’s quarterfinal games.

Featured video

Man United thrash Liverpool