PREVIEW – The CanMNT and Panama are both in their first-ever Concacaf Nations League Finals stage appearance. Now, for both teams, they both look to earn the Finals of the last stage of the Concacaf Nations League appearance. Also, both these teams share a lot of history together as they will both play in a neutral location in Las Vegas, Nevada in the U.S. The Panama vs CanMNT game will happen on Thursday and will be the first of two semi-final games on Thursday.
Panama vs CanMNT: Both Teams Want to Make History
Trophy on the line 🏆
— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) June 7, 2023
The winners of the 2022 World Cup qualifying cycle, the CanMNT will look to continue that momentum on Thursday against Panama. After only six months after a disappointing FIFA World Cup performance, this is what Herdman had to say (source: Joshua Kloke of The Athletic):
“It hurt a lot,” Herdman said. “You’re so invested in something, it rocks you to your foundation: the reality of the missed opportunities and having to handle the criticism, which is never easy, but it’s par for this journey that we embark on.”
Canada won their last two games of the Concacaf Nations League to get to this stage in the post-game interview after the win over Honduras:
“So I’d say that’s the step they’ve taken tonight is I think they’re shown a level of performance that should give us hope, and a lot of belief that we can win that Nations League finals, so I am hoping a lot of Canadians book time off and in June and what a location, what a destination that is for seven days, two big games, I think it’d be a hell of a ride for the fans, if they if they turn up,” Herdman said. “And I think that’s the next step for Canada. You know, when we go to these matches, we end up you know, with 75,000 Mexicans or 70,000 Americans, we’d love to see, you know, the fans come over the border and fill out at least half a large stadium.”
The CanMNT was really impressive in their 4-1 win against Honduras, with Cyle Larin playing a huge role in Canada earning that win over Honduras. There has also been some high-profile assistant coaches, with former Inter Miami CF and former Lionesses head coach, Phil Neville, and also Richard Shaw reportedly being part of the coaching staff (source: Neil Davidson of The Canadian Press).
Canada has won their last two games, including a road win in Curacao. Their three losses came in the FIFA World Cup, including a game against Belgium, where they could have gotten a result.
Players to watch for include their all-time goal scorer, Cyle Larin, with 28 goals scored while Jonathan David has 24 goals for the national team. They also have arguably the best player in Concacaf with FC Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies. Larin plays for Real Valladolid Club de Fútbol, S.A.D. and David plays for LOSC Lille. All three players are also on the CanMNT Concacaf Nations League roster this month.
¡FELICIDADES MATADOR 🎊🎉!
Con este gol 🆚 Costa Rica 🇨🇷, hoy felicitamos al histórico delantero Luis “Matador” Tejada ⚽️ en su cumpleaños 🎈🎂.
— FEPAFUT (@fepafut) March 28, 2023
Panama enters this competition after beating Costa Rica on the road 1-0 thanks to a goal by Jose Fajardo (Fajardo would also later get a red card in the same game). A win in their last game of Concacaf Nations League play was the only way Panama would make it, and they did. José Fajardo scored the goal that allowed Panama to make the Concacaf Nations League. After making their first-ever FIFA World Cup appearance in 2018, they narrowly missed out on the 2022 FIFA World Cup edition as they finished fifth out of eight teams.
This is what The Tico Times described how Panama was able to Costa Rica in San Jose, Costa Rica:
“The Panamanian national team played smart at the Costa Rican National Stadium. It pressed when it could, put fear into the counterattack and advanced the defense in moments of pressure so as not to be boxed in by the Costa Rican thrust.”
Panama’s last two games were also wins. As mentioned before Costa Rica, also won recently against Nicaragua on June 10 by a scoreline of 3-2. Their only loss came on March 23 against the defending FIFA World Cup champions, Argentina, in a 2-0 loss.
This is not to predict the players that will play against Canada on Thursday or that will play in the Concacaf Nations League. However, there are two MLS players that Canadian fans might know of. One is Roman Torres, a defender of the Seattle Sounders FC and the other is Anibal Godoy, a defensive midfielder of the San Jose Earthquakes. There is also, of course, Gabriel Torres, who plays for Deportes Antofagasta, and scored the game-winning goal when Panama won against Canada last year. Lastly, there is also Edgar Bárcenas, who played all four games for Panama in the Concacaf Nations League and also plays for the Liga MX side, Mazatlán.
Head-to-Head and Predictions of Panama vs CanMNT Game
The men’s senior national teams of Canada, Mexico, Panama, and the United States have submitted their final rosters ahead of the Concacaf Nations League Finals at Allegiant Stadium.
— Allegiant Stadium (@AllegiantStadm) June 8, 2023
Both teams split their series between each other in FIFA World Cup qualifying with three points each. The win for Canada was a turning point in their FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign while the win for Panama was a consolation prize as they were already eliminated from making the FIFA World Cup.
Both Canada and Panama also drew in the 2011 Concacaf Gold Cup and shared one win each in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign. The record has been very even recently, which people might expect to see in Thursday’s game. Additionally, both teams have faced each other nine times, both have won two times, lost two times, and also drew with each other five times.
Predictions: CanMNT 2 – Panama 0
Panama is a great team and should provide a challenge for the CanMNT. However, at the same time, there is a reason why Canada finished first in Concacaf World Cup qualifying. They showed that in their 4-1 win over Honduras in March and expect similar pressure from Canada on Thursday. The game will be shown live on OneSoccer and Telus and will take place at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports of a Cyle Larin Headshot and a Richie Laryea Headshot, on March 27, 2022.