IN PHOTOS: MNT vs. Panama - Oct. 15, 2013

USA-Panama. October 15, 2013 at Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City.

In terms of the CONCACAF Final Round qualifying standings for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, it’s a game that mattered little for the United States. Having locked in their place in Brazil with a 2-0 win against struggling rivals Mexico back on Matchday 8, the U.S. then clinched top of the group with another two-goal shutout on Matchday 9 against Jamaica in Kansas City.

On the flip side was a Panama team that still had a glimmer of hope at qualifying for its first World Cup. Going into the match in fifth place sitting three points behind Mexico, Los Canaleros not only needed to beat the U.S. but also hope for Costa Rica to pull off an away win at Estadio Azteca in a simultaneous match. Doing their part was a fully-charged crowd, packed to the brim at the 45,000-seat Estadio Rommel Fernandez.

With a few starters carrying injuries, for the most part U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmman elected to give time to a mostly green set of players who would utilize the match to make a case for their inclusion on the MNT roster in Brazil.  What the starting XI lacked in experience – eight starters had seven or fewer previous qualifying caps – it more than made up for in motivation, knowing a solid performance could be the difference in realizing the dream of playing in the World Cup.

Feeding off the energy of the fiery, red-clad home crowd, Panama came close in the 12th minute when Marcos Sanchez’s low cross was swept away in the box by Michael Orozco. 

However, the deadlock wouldn’t last long. Panama’s high press forced an Edgar Castillo turnover in their attacking third. Quickly moving back into attack, Alberto Quintero slotted a through ball for Sanchez at the top of the area. There he centered a pass for Gabriel Torres, who one-timed his effort inside the lower, left post, sending the crowd into a frenzy.

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