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USA vs. Panama, 2020 friendly: What to watch for

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The USMNT are back to try and end 2020 with a win.

USA v Japan - FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019 Photo by Maddie Meyer - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

The United States Men’s National Team are back in action tomorrow as they take on Concacaf foes Panama in Wiener Neustadt, Austria. For the USMNT, it’s a chance to end the longest year on record the way they started it: with a win. They hope that win can come against a familiar foe to them in Panama, as the two will face off for the first time outside of the Concacaf region.

2020 Form

USA

D (0-0) - Wales - Friendly

W (1-0) - Costa Rica - Friendly

Panama

L (0-1) - Japan - Friendly

W (1-0) - Costa Rica - Friendly

W (1-0) - Costa Rica - Friendly

W (2-0) - Guatemala - Friendly

D (0-0) - Guatemala - Friendly

What To Watch For

Finish the attack: Against Wales, the USMNT had several great chances to score, but they came up short each time. The idea this time around is to finish those chances. The forwards should pelt the Panamanian goalkeeper with shots, but guys also have to crash the net. That’s where the real chances to finish will lie.

Play through the middle so the wings can dominate: The USMNT will want to play the ball into the middle of the field, where they can maintain possession. That also frees the wings to move up and get behind the Panamanian back line. If they can do that, it’s going to put lots of pressure on Panama’s defense, similar to what the USMNT was able to do quite a bit against Wales.

Make sure the flanks have cover: There were a couple times when our fullbacks liked to go forward, but when they lost possession, they left holes on the counter attack. It will be up to the midfield to make sure that protection is there when the right back or left back move forward. Communication is key, and knowing roles will keep the defensive wall solid.

Lineup Prediction

USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter doesn’t like to do complete lineup switches often, so don’t be surprised if he goes with a lineup that looks similar to the one he put out against Wales:

Projected Starting XI vs. Panama

Zack Steffen remains in goal for the USMNT, but on the back line, look for Berhalter to test having Dest at left back and Reggie Cannon at right back. John Brooks and Matt Miazga will once again be the centerback pairing, but look for Chris Richards to make his senior national team debut off the bench in the 2nd half.

In the middle, the trio of Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, and Yunus Musah worked extremely well on Thursday. There are other people who may enter the game at an earlier time to give these guys some rest, but Berhalter will likely opt to start with the same trio.

Up top, Gio Reyna gets another start at right wing, and Ulysses Llanez gets the start at left wing. Nicholas Gioacchini gets his first start to see if he can be the 9 for the United States.

Prediction

We will see some more chances here, and I think the USMNT finally breaks through. Ulysses Llanez scores early on, and Weston McKennie adds another one as the USMNT end with a 2-0 victory.