With the U.S. Men’s National Team taking on Martinique in the other Group B match, both Panama and Nicaragua have a chance to seize control of second place with a win on Wednesday night.
On matchday one, Panama held the USMNT to a 1-1 draw, earning them a valuable point against their toughest opponent in the group. Nicaragua, meanwhile, suffered a bit of a disappointing 2-0 defeat at the hands of Martinique, positioning them in last and Martinique at the top of the group. While Martinique’s position atop the group is likely unsustainable, Nicaragua’s position at the bottom is all but certain if they can’t get a result against Panama.
The Panamanian midfield, led by Gabriel Gomez and Anibal Godoy, simply outplayed the USMNT pairing of Kellyn Acosta and Dax McCarty in Saturday’s draw. With better quality up and down the field against Nicaragua, the midfield will again play a key role in dictating the flow of the match. If Panama can control possession and limit Nicaragua to sparse counter-attacking opportunities, it’ll likely serve them well and result in a favorable outcome.
Nicaragua’s job will be to break up the expected Panamanian control of the match, and failure to do so will likely mean elimination from the tournament assuming results elsewhere go as believed. Though they generated several good goalscoring opportunities against Martinique, Nicaragua found themselves unable to finish. They’ll hope the return of suspended attackers Juan Barrera and David Cadena help with that issue, as it’s unlikely that Nicaragua will hold Panama off the scoreboard all match.
While most eyes will be on the USMNT match later on, the results of this clash will go a long way towards deciding the fate of Group B.