It’s an interesting dynamic for this game, because Panama is coming off losing their first game to El Salvador – a game in which they dominated - and winning the game in Jamaica in which they were under pressure for most of the game. They are feeling good about getting three points in Kingston, and are extremely excited about playing their first home game in the semifinal round. From what we’ve been told, this is one of the biggest games in Panama’s soccer history.
Due to suspensions, the depth of Panama’s roster will be tested in tonight’s match. Several players who featured prominently with their U-23 team will be given an opportunity to make a contribution. Irrespective of personnel changes, we fully anticipate their tactical approach to the game to remain the same. They have consistently played out of a 4-4-2 formation, with the strengths of their team being athleticism, collective organization and direct play to Julio Dely Valdez, their top striker and leading goalscorer. Our ability to stop service from the flanks and contain Dely Valdez in and around the penalty area is critical to our success.
Considering Panama’s emphasis on playing directly to their forwards as early as possible, we would like to stress possession and controlling midfield play. Panama has recently played with two holding central midfield players, and has relied on penetration and creativity from wide midfield positions. As their wide midfielders like to pinch in to play-make and provide service to the strikers, we feel they are reluctant defenders and will be susceptible to attacks from the flanks.
In building on our victory against El Salvador, an immediate goal is to translate our midfield dominance and possession into more clear-cut goal scoring chances. We anticipate a hard-fought physical confrontation, but our approach will be attack-minded, looking to secure three points and solidifying control of the group.