Jurgen Klinsmann named the same starting lineup in consecutive games for the first time in his 26 matches in charge of the United States against Jamaica on Friday, but that brief run will come to an end with the visit of Panama to Seattle. A dramatic and much welcomed 2-1 victory in Kingston was not all positive as Jermaine Jones suffered a concussion that rules him out of Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier, while Graham Zusi, who has quietly become a key figure on the right side of midfield, will be suspended do to an accumulation of yellow cards.
Sacha Kljestan is one of the players that will be hoping to benefit from the absentees and he believes that changes to the lineup are just part of international soccer. “In a perfect world with your club team, you play with the same lineup five, six games in a row and that would be great,” the Anderlecht midfielder said ahead of the game, according to the Major League Soccer website. “But it doesn’t really happen with the national team – not with many national teams.
“I’m sure it was nice for the guys to get two games in a row, the same 11 guys on the field. Unfortunately we have an injury and a yellow-card suspension. Guys are fighting to get back in the team and play.”
Against Jamaica, Klinsmann decided to bring in the versatile and defensively minded Geoff Cameron when Jones was taken off. Despite being at home, he may again opt for a safety first approach rather than the more attack-minded Kljestan. To replace Zusi on the right, Klinsmann has several options. Edgar Castillo came on against Jamaica, while Brad Davis, Joe Corona and Eddie Johnson present further alternatives.
Panama, which goes into the game unbeaten from their first four matches in the Hexagonal, also has lineup issues with striker Blas Perez missing out through illness.
D: Evans, Gonzalez, Besler, Beasley
M: Cameron, Bradley
Corona, Dempsey, F. Johnson
D: Rodriguez, Baloy, Torres, Parrish
M: Gomez, Sanchez, A. Henriquez, L. Henriquez
F: Tejada, Blackburn
Prediction: Panama have conceded just three goals in four matches and are likely to come to Seattle with a priority on sitting back and hoping to get what they can on the break. With that in mind, it would be somewhat concerning were Klinsmann to opt for Cameron in the middle of the pitch rather than more creative alternatives.
An early goal would be a major boost for the U.S., but if they don’t get that it could be a frustrating evening on the temporary grass at CenturyLink Field. Klinsmann’s men should be on confident mood, though, and, with Jozy Altidore finally finding his scoring touch for his country, the U.S. should get a second consecutive win.
USA 1-0 Panama
Where to watch: The FIFA World Cup qualifier will kick-off at 10 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by ESPN, with a live stream available on ESPN3.