Panama track: USMNT “long road” to World Cup spot almost locked



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Berhalter in particular has a huge choice to make in the position of the striker.

Ricardo Pepi has been missing top form for both club and country for months, and was dreading El Tri. When Berhalter mentioned this selection, he specifically cited Jordan Pefok’s physicality and air skills as a useful weapon against Panama, and the Switzerland-based goalkeeper came off the bench to spell Pepi in Mexico City and promptly missed the target on the clearest score of that game chance.

Meanwhile, Jesus Ferreira arrived at camp after a blistering hat-trick outing for FC Dallas, but he brings a distinctly different toolkit as a fake number 9 that may or may not be what Berhalter wants versus the shaggy, organized Canaleros, who in October became one of the inflicted two Ocho losses to the USMNT in the Panama City reverse game.

“All three attackers have a chance to start the game tomorrow. They all bring different elements that can help the team be successful,” said Berhalter. “Jordan is certainly good at crosses, good in the penalty area. “It was a difficult night for him in Azteca, no doubt about it. But players will come back. Pepe, I think after the game I talked about his pace of work, I thought it was excellent. I really liked his defensive pressure.

“So overall these guys have all thrown themselves in to play again and we’ll have to make the decision tonight.”

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