The United States women’s national team definitely looked like a bunch of players coming off of a long hiatus when they faced Haiti earlier this week. That game was still a 4-0 win. So against Panama, who have not looked as good as Haiti, it may end up being even more lopsided.
That’s not to say that Panama didn’t put up a fight against Costa Rica in their opening game of Olympic qualifying, 6-1 scoreline against them notwithstanding. But they looked disorganized and goalkeeper Yenith Bailey, who stole hearts two years ago during World Cup qualifying, had some panic moments. Understandable, given she’s still only 18 (yes, she was 16 and playing in World Cup qualifiers last time) and isn’t necessarily getting consistent high-level professional development. But she also had a wild triple save against Costa Rica and actually kept the scoreline much lower than it could have been, so keep an eye on the kid as Carli Lloyd is bumrushing her in the box.
GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Yenith Bailey (Club Libertad Limpeño, PAR), 12-Sasha Fabrega (Tauro FC), 20-Nadia Ducreux (Costa Del Este)
DEFENDERS (8): 2-Rebeca Espinoza (Universitario), 3-Yomira Pinzon (CD Pozoalbense, ESP), 4-Hilary Jaen (Tauro FC), 6-Maria Murillo (Atletico Nacional, COL), 8-Katherine Castillo (Universitario), 14-Maryorie Perez (Tauro FC), 15-Ana Rodriguez (Cai), 19-Arlen Hernandez (Universitario)
MIDFIELDERS (5): 5-Yerenis De Leon (Universitario), 7-Maria Guevara (Universitario), 10-Aldrith Quintero (Tauro FC), 11-Marta Cox (Universitario), 17-Gabriela Villagrand (Angelo State University, USA)
FORWARDS (4): 9-Amarelis De Mera (Tauro FC), 13-Susy Cassinova (Plaza Amador), 16-Gloria Saenz (Cai), 18-Keisilyn Gutierrez (Universitario)
Perhaps some of the most interesting questions will come from how Vlatko Andonovski rotates his starting XI. Rotation in and of itself is to be expected; why tire your players out against younger teams. So it’s not going to be immediately clear what is and isn’t commentary on performances from the game against Haiti, some of which were better than others. It would actually be nice to see Lynn Williams start two in a row, which would help with Andonovski’s evaluation of her as she works her way back into the forward pool, and it would be nice to see her start with Jess McDonald at her side. Carli Lloyd might be asked to sit, given she looked discombobulated. Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle could rotate out, but once again, it probably won’t be super clear what is a response to performance and what is just resting players. Andonovski could also take the opportunity to continue rotating his goalkeepers - he has SheBelieves to play his #1 pick consistently to cement chemistry with the backline.
Friday, January 31
BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston, TX
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