Five Things to Know About: Panama

The U.S. Men’s National Team goes for the top spot in Group D of the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup when it faces Panama on Wednesday, June 26 at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kan.
The U.S. Men’s National Team goes for the top spot in Group D of the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup when it faces Panama on Wednesday, June 26 at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kan.


Here are five things to know about Panama. 


Footballing History

Few Concacaf nations have experienced the type of rise that Panama has during the last 15 years. Dubbed Los Canaleros as the host nation of the canal that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, Panama’s ascent began during the 2006 FIFA World Cup cycle, advancing to the final round of qualifying as well as the 2005 Concacaf Gold Cup Final, where they played the USA to a 0-0 draw before falling 3-1 on penalty kicks. Eight years later they met the USA again, falling 1-0 in the final at Chicago’s Soldier Field. 


Having advanced to “the Hex” in three of the last four qualifying cycles, Panama achieved its greatest footballing feat when they clinched a berth to the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Drawn against Belgium and England – two of the tournament’s semifinalists – Panama had a rough go of things in the group but did score their first World Cup goal in the 6-1 defeat to England, and performed admirably in the finale, a 2-1 loss to Tunisia. 


Head Coach: Julio Dely Valdes

Having guided Panama to its first FIFA World Cup appearances, manager Hernan Dario Gomez moved on from the job following the tournament. Since then, Panama has been led by interim managers. When the USA faced Los Canaleros in January, the side was coached by Englishman Gary Stempel, and has now been taken over on an interim basis by former manager and Panama legend Julio Dely Valdes.


One of Panama’s most accomplished footballers, Dely Valdes’ 19-year career saw him feature for Italian side Cagliari, French giants Paris Saint-Germain and Spanish La Liga clubs Real Oviedo and Malaga. Internationally, he registered 18 goals in 44 appearances for Panama and was part of the nation’s footballing resurgence, helping the side to the final round qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup and the 2005 Concacaf Gold Cup Final.


Following his career, Dely Valdes went into management, serving as national team head coach in 2006, and again from 2010-13. In that second tenure, the former striker led Panama back to the 2013 Concacaf Gold Cup Final, and within seconds of the intercontinental playoff to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. In both instances, Panama was thwarted by the United States.  


Here and Now

Following last summer’s FIFA World Cup, Panama has been in the midst of rebuilding its squad, going 2-7-2 in its 11 matches since leaving Russia. While their record hasn’t been great, the level of opponents has been challenging, with the Central American nation taking on the likes of Brazil (who they drew 1-1 with in March), along with Uruguay and Colombia. 


Most recently, Panama earned its first two wins since Russia 2018 in the past week at the Concacaf Gold Cup, collecting a 2-0 victory against Trinidad & Tobago (June 18) and 4-2 win against Guyana (June 22), to clinch a place alongside the USA in the tournament’s quarterfinals. 


History with the MNT

The U.S. holds a dominant 13-1-6 all-time advantage against Panama. The sides last met in January, a game which was also the first for the USA under the direction of head coach Gregg Berhalter. The USMNT put in a dominant performance, using goals from Djordje Mihailovic, Walker Zimmerman and Christian Ramirez to start the year off with a 3-0 victory.
As it relates to the current competition, the USA and Panama are well acquainted in the Concacaf Gold Cup, with Wednesday’s meeting representing their ninth in the confederation championship, and eighth consecutive tournament where the two sides will face off.
The USA holds a 5-1-4 advantage against Los Canaleros in Gold Cup play, but Panama’s lone victory – a 2-1 win in 2011 – is the USMNT’s only defeat during the group stage all-time. On the flip side, the USA has won two of its six Gold Cup titles against Panama, defeating the Central American side on penalties in the 2005 final and 1-0 in the 2013 final. 

Gold Cup History: USA-Panama Results



Goal Scorers



July 14, 1993

2-1 W

Dooley, Wynalda

Dallas, Texas


July 24, 2005

0-0 D (3-1 PK)


East Rutherford, N.J.


June 16, 2007

2-1 W

Donovan, Bocanegra

Foxborough, Mass.


July 18, 2009

2-1 W (AET)

Beckerman, Cooper

Philadelphia, Pa.


June 11, 2011

1-2 L


Tampa, Fla.


June 22, 2011

1-0 W


Houston, Texas


July 28, 2013

1-0 W


Chicago, Ill.


July 13, 2015

1-1 D


Kansas City, Kan.


July 25, 2015 1-1 D (2-3 PK Dempsey Chester, Pa. Third Place

July 8, 2017

1-1 D


Nashville, Tenn.


Panama Roster

Panama’s 23-player roster features a number of players with ties to the U.S. Men’s National Team and Major League Soccer.

Four players are current MLS teammates with players on the USMNT. Harold Cummings lines up with Nick Lima at the San Jose Earthquakes, Michael Murillo plays with Aaron Long at the New York Red Bulls, Román Torres teams with Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan at Seattle Sounders FC, and Omar Browne works with Daniel Lovitz at the Montreal Impact.

Three other players have previously played in MLS: Adolfo Machado (Houston Dynamo; 2017-18), Fidel Escobar (New York Red Bulls; 2017-18), and Armando Cooper (Toronto FC; 2016-17).

Goalkeepers (3): Luis Mejía (Nacional/URU; 21/0), José Calderón (Comunicaciones/GUA; 36/0), Orlando Mosquera (Tauro; 0/0)

Defenders (8): Harold Cummings (San Jose Earthquakes/USA; 60/1), Erick Davis (Dunajská Streda/SLO; 48/0), Fidel Escobar (Correcaminos/MEX; 37/1), Kevin Galván (Sporting San Miguelito; 4/0), Adolfo Machado (The Strongest/BOL; 83/2), Michael Murillo (New York Red Bulls/USA; 32/3) Francisco Palacios (San Francisco; 5/0), Román Torres (Seattle Sounders FC/USA; 112/10)

Midfielders (7): Édgar Bárcenas (Oviedo/ESP; 34/1), Omar Browne (Montreal Impact/CAN; 5/0), Armando Cooper (Maccabi Petah Tikva/ISR; 107/8), Alberto Quintero (Universitario/PER; 97/4), José Luis Rodríguez (Alaves B/ESP; 14/0), Marcos Sánchez (Tauro; 40/2)

Forwards (4): Abdiel Arroyo (Arabe Unido; 45/6), Rolando Blackburn (The Strongest/BOL; 34/5), José Fajarado (Al-Kawkab/KSA; 7/0), Gabriel Torres (Universidad de Chile/CHI; 80/15)