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Panama and Cuba play to 1-1 draw

Panama Cuba Action Olympic Qual (USA TODAY SPorts)


Panama clawed its way back from a deficit for most of the match in a 1-1 draw against Cuba Thursday afternoon at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kans., to open Olympic qualifying.

Josiel Nunez pulled back a goal for Panama in the 76th minute after his team trailed for most of the game.

Nunez’s header at the back post equalized a sixth-minute goal scored by Cuba’s Maykel Reyes. In the 6th minute, Panama goalkeeper Elisier Powell tried to clear his line, but fired the ball into Reyes’ leg and it bounced into the net.

Shortly after Nunez’s equalizer, Panama went a man down after Fidel Escobar was sent off due to a reckless challenge in the 79th minute.

While Cuba held its own in the first half, the second half was controlled almost entirely by Panama. The game ended with Panama taking 14 shots to Cuba’s eight. Most of the second half was spent near the 18-yard box of Cuba as Panama hammered pressure onto the Cuban goalkeeper Sandy Sanchez.

Before the game began, Cuba was already missing four players. Emmanuel Labrada, Dairon Perez, Frank Lopez and Yendry Torres defected from the team. This left the Cuba team with only five substitutes while Panama had nine at its disposal.

Cuba faces the U.S. on Saturday, while Panama takes on Canada.


    • Maybe because USMU23 has failed to qualify for the last two Olympics and don’t deserve coverage until they earn that respect back. Just a thought.

      • By your logic, El Tri (first team) does not deserve coverage because they choked against Costa Rica and would not have made it to the WC without USMNT help.

      • Quite the opposite. Everybody claims that USMNT eliminated Panama to allow for Mexico to make it to the palyoffs and eventually to the WC. Well, Panamanians I know believe they did not qualify because they lost to Mexico at El Azteca, when a draw would’ve been enough to eliminate El Tri. In other words, El Tri made it to WC because they beat Panama and then New Zealand. Panam failed to beat El Tri, so no WC.

      • Your interloping as grown tiresome. In some comments, you try to act like a USMNT fan (which nobody is buying), then the next, you’re spewing this half-baked hate. Maybe it’s time to get back on your meds…?

      • This post is factually inaccurate. The US qualified in 2008, and played well but failed to get out of the group due to a last second goal by Holland and some shoddy defending against Nigeria. If you are going to troll, at least get your facts straight.

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