USMNT vs. Panama Copa America Preview: Live Odds, Props, & Expert Analysis

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USMNT vs. Panama Copa America Preview: Odds, Props, & Expert Analysis

The USMNT, who sit at -286, will face Panama at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Thursday as Copa America group play continues. Goals from Christian Pulisic and Folarin Balogun earned the US a 2-0 victory over Bolivia at the weekend. That represented the perfect start to the team’s Copa America campaign, and it will aim to keep the momentum going against Panama.

The Panamanians (+850) are at the bottom of Group C after losing 3-1 to Uruguay in their opener. Another defeat on Thursday could see them eliminated from the tournament, so manager Thomas Christiansen will need to rally his troops for this game. Los Canaleros have a decent head-to-head record against the US, which could provide the players with encouragement ahead of their trip to Atlanta, but they are the clear underdogs in Copa America betting odds.

Panama vs. US live odds & lines

Panama vs. USMNT player props

Christian Pulisic

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Folarin Balogun

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José Fajardo

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Panama might have to contain Pulisic to win

Pulisic scored a hat trick when the USMNT beat Panama 5-1 in a World Cup qualifier back in March 2022. Los Canaleros will be keen to avoid a repeat of that performance when they take on the US this week, so they will need to find a way to contain Pulisic. The AC Milan forward scored a superb strike against Bolivia over the weekend, taking his tally to 30 goals in 69 games for his country, and he looks fired up for this tournament.

The Panamanians will need to cut off the supply to Pulisic if they hope to win this game. He is the creative spark for his team, and he can cause all sorts of problems for Panama’s defense if he has enough room to maneuver. Los Canaleros typically play with a back five, so Edgardo Fariña and Michael Murillo will likely aim to double up on Pulisic whenever possible. If they manage to keep him quiet, they may be able to pull off an upset.

USMNT’s path to victory likely includes crosses into the box

Panama’s players struggled to defend crosses in their 3-1 defeat to Uruguay. Darwin Nùñez volleyed after Los Canaleros failed to clear Nicolás de la Cruz’s looping ball into the box, and Matías Viña then headed home another cross six minutes later to kill off the game.

The USMNT players are dangerous in wide areas, with Pulisic and Gio Reyna on the left flank and Tim Weah and Weston McKennie on the right, so they could follow a similar approach to Uruguay. Both of their goals against Bolivia came from wide areas. Pulisic scored after receiving the ball from a short corner, and Folarin Balogun converted Weah’s low cross to make it 2-0. The USMNT could win this game if its wingers put in another strong performance.

Panama expected starting 11

Orlando Mosquera will start in goal for Panama on Thursday. Manager Thomas Christiansen has experimented with several formations, but he opted for a 5-4-1 approach against Uruguay. It was reasonably effective, as the Uruguayans needed two late goals to kill off the game, so Christiansen may stick with that conservative formation. If so, Eric Davis, Roderick Miller, Edgardo Fariña, José Cordoba, and Michael Murillo could form a back five.

Panamanian captain Aníbal Godoy was ruled out of the tournament with a thigh injury just before Matchday 1, so Cristian Martínez and Adalberto Carrasquilla started in midfield. They should keep their places, with Yoel Bárcenas and José Rodríguez on the wings. Cecilio Waterman is also injured, so José Fajardo is likely to start up front.

United States expected starting 11

Matt Turner is the first-choice goalkeeper for the USMNT. Antonee Robinson, Chris Richards, Tim Ream, and Joe Scally looked solid on defense against Bolivia. Manager Gregg Berhalter decided to leave out Yunus Musah on Matchday 2. That allowed Gio Reyna to start alongside Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie in midfield, but Musah will be pushing to play from the first whistle against Panama.

Berhalter also started Balogun ahead of Ricardo Pepi for the US’s opening game of the tournament. That decision was vindicated when Balogun notched the second goal of the match, so the Monaco striker could keep his place. Pulisic will play on the left of the front three, with Weah on the right.

Photo by Associated Press