I'll say it again — that was brutal. The US certainly took the game to Panama in the second half, but once again for a few moments Panama dared to dream after Saborio's goal in Costa Rica and Tejada's goal here put them within an injury time of a World Cup playoff. Instead two USA injury time goals gave Mexico the most unlikely of lifelines. The USA match their record qualifying points total of 22, Johannsson gets his first goal, and a winner at that, but that's not the story here.
Honduras qualify for the World Cup with a 2-2 draw in Jamaica
Mexico lose 2-1 in Costa Rica but will play in a playoff series with New Zealand
Panama — poor crushed Panama — are out of the World Cup
Final score: Panama 2-3 USA
Panama players are flooding off the field in tears. Forget the Jimenez goal in Mexico City — that was a brutal way to have your dreams dashed.
Final thoughts in a minute.
GOAL! PANAMA 2-3 USA (JOHANNSSON)
Panama were still reeling from the leveler when the USA came forward again. Johannsson lashed a vicious shot from the edge of the box into the corner and that's heart break for Panama.
GOAL! PANAMA 2-2 USA (ZUSI!)
Did Graham Zusi really just send Mexico to the World Cup. Davis sent in a perfect cross from wide left and the Kansas City man headed past the keeper!
The USA, to be fair, are still going for it here. Beckerman slides a lovely ball past a dummying Kljestan to Castillo on the outside, but his poked in pass is just in front of Boyd on the edge of the six yard box and Penedo grabs it.
Henriquez wants a penalty as he's bundled over on the edge of the box, but nothing given, then at the other end Boyd has a couple of glimpses of goal, but can't force a clean touch for a shot or header on either of them.
Mexico last missed a World Cup in 1990 when they were suspended. but haven't failed to qualify since 1982.
Well then...for a brief period the USA were keeping Mexico in the World Cup with Orozco's goal, but the defender was nowhere on Tejada's goal, as the veteran evaded the US defense with his run into the box. Is Raul Jimenez's bicycle kick destined for curio rather than legendary status?
GOAL! PANAMA 2-1 USA (TEJADA!)
OH my. In round about four minutes time we might see a Mexico goal. Because Panama have the lead here in Panama City! A low cross from Chen is palmed by Guzan only as far as Tejada on the edge of the six yard box and he bundles home. As it stands Mexico are out of the World Cup!
Davis picks out Castillo on the left and his cross is decent enough, but Boyd can't get anything on target and Panama go up to the other end, where Tejada (on for Sanchez by the way), can't get his header on target after a lovely cross from Torres to the back post.
The US break out of some Panama pressure and move the ball from left to right with first time movement, but Johannsson can't quite get to the final cross as Penedo dives on it gratefully. Always a danger for Panama as they push for the win. Still Panama 1-1 USA
Kljestan jumps in midfield to intercept a dangerous looking ball over the top, targetting that vulnerable US right flank again. A minute later though Panama go closer as Tejada finds space in the right of the box and curls a shot past Guzan but past the post as well.
Jozy Altidore comes off for Terrence Boyd. That ends Altidore's run of scoring in his last six starts by the way, though he was very good tonight.
Right. Into the last 15 minutes and a goal for Panama changes everything. Can they find one?
Henriquez keeps a ball in play down the right, where Bedoya has been...woeful, since switching there. But his low cross is cleared, and Kljestan stays cool to force it clear under pressure.
Rodriguez takes his go to torment that US right flank, but his cross is poor and that will be his last contribution as he's subbed out for Chen. By the way Johannsson came on for Diskerud about ten minutes ago for the US, but given all the attacking Panama are doing it hasn't exactly been relevant yet.
As it stands (and by the way Jamaica just equalized against Honduras), Honduras qualify, Mexico go to the playoffs, and Panama are out. But a Panama goal would take them past Mexico. This is getting tense.
Quintero, who has burst into life following the USA goal, has another foray down the left to torment Bedoya. He's cosed out eventually and it's still Panama 1-1 USA
68 mins BIG CALL FOR A PANAMA PENALTY!
Hmmmmmm. Quintero bursts into the box and goes sprawling as Bedoya cannons into the back of him. big shout for a penalty, but nothing given. Then a minute later the USA defense creaks again as Torres is slipped the ball on the overlap but can't get past the spread arms of Guzan at close range and a narrow angle.
And of course, just as the USA equalize, Costa Rica take the lead against Mexico. This leads to the surreal sight of the Panama crowd sounding perked up by conceding a goal. They need one themselves now.
GOAL! PANAMA 1-1 USA (OROZCO!)
Davis, who's looked lively floats a beautiful tempting ball towards Altidore at the back post and the US have a corner...
...Kljestan is wrestled to the ground as the ball comes in but it doesn't matter! Orozco stoops and heads precisely into the near corner. And the USA are level!
Kljestan spins on the edge of the box and works the ball to Bedoya out right, and he chips in a tempting little cross that Davis gets to on his weaker right foot, but can't keep it on target. In other unsurprising news Rafa Marquez just picked up a yellow card playing for Mexico, grass is green etc.
Perez is bundled over by Beckerman in the US half and Panama have a free kick a long way out but at a nice angle to be floated in to the box. Rather aimlessly floated to the back post though and it's nodded back to Guzan. Still Panama 1-0 USA, Jamaica 1-2 Honduras, Costa Rica 1-1 Mexico
This is better in this half from the USA, who have been working the ball quicker and more iventively outside the Panama defense, but they need to watch the counter. Beckerman just had to step back to help out his defense after the US midfield lost possession in front of him and Gabriel Gomez looked to play an attacker in.
Excellent chance for Panama as Evans is burnt for pace at the other end and Quintero cuts inside to touch the ball for Perez, whose shot is cleared from behind the keeper by Castillo.
Now a slightly strange substitution from Klinsmann as Evans is brought off for Davis and Bedoya moves back to the right back spot. Unfortunate last moment for Evans as Quintero blew past him on that last attack.
Evans gets down the right on the overlap and is found well by Diskerud, but his touch lets him down on the cross. Better from the US, and now Evans is involved again and hits a dangerous low ball that Penedo has to dive on, with Altidore lurking.
Brad Davis warming up for the USA on the sidelines.
Other than Altidore, no USA player really making a case for themselves so far, just as happened the other night in Jamaica. Castillo playing a little further forward in this half after a nervy opening 45.
Nice clip over the top from Kljestan after good Altidore hold up work, but then Bedoya, who's been moved to the left to allow Zusi to go to his natural right, hits an awful cross from a promising position. Generally better from the USA though.
USA have a corner and there's a little bit of panic as Panama make heavy weather of clearing an inswinger. But they do so and we remain at Panama 1-0 USA. We're back underway in the Costa Rica Mexico game by the way.
No changes for either side at half time. Cagey start to the half. Neither side getting an early look at goal. USA settle on the ball after a scrappy start and begin that slow patient clockwork build-up that hasn't really stretched Panama yet. And then Beckerman finds a little space down the right channel for Altidore, but Baloy blocks his shot from the edge of the box.
The word on Mexico is that they were lucky to be level at the half — not playing well apparently. Their goal was their only shot on target.
OK, USA get us underway again here...
The Panama crowd must be pretty sick of having four minutes of dreaming followed by a Mexican goal. It happened the other night between the 81st and 85th minutes and happened again tonight in the first half, when news filtered through that Costa Rica had scored. The crowd cheered louder than they did for the Panama goal, only for Mexico to tie the match up four minutes later.
And it's raining.
Half time thoughts
So understandably, most of the urgency and indeed cohesion in the first half, belonged to Panama, while the USA, Altidore, and Diskerud in flashes, apart, looked pretty sluggish. Castillo and Evans were both pinned back by their speedy opponents on the Panama flanks, and without width, the US approach play looked very congested. Again, Diskerud had flashes of creativity, though sometimes that's the suspicion with him — that his contribution can sometimes be more flash than grit.
Here are the scores in the other two matches:
Costa Rica 1-1 Mexico
Jamaica 1-2 Honduras
As it stands Honduras will qualify automatically and Mexico will face a playoff against New Zealand.
HALF TIME: PANAMA 1-0 USA
Half time thoughts in a moment
45 mins +1
Diskerud involved again in threading the ball to Bedoya on the left in a small piece of space in the box, but he rather makes a hash of his decision-making and can't pick out either a clear shot or another white shirt.
Good chance for Panama as Quintero tiptoes down the left and sends the ball across the box, to where Perez is charging in at the back post, but he can't get over the ball and fires over.
Dave Hill is back with reference to the sight of the USA's perennial home World Cup dos a cero's against Mexico:
Jurgen is going to have to convince the US team that even though everyone is speaking Portuguese next summer, they are actually playing in Columbus Ohio
Zusi's been poor tonight and his attempted through ball can't find a way through. The US in general though, are beginning to increase the tempo and move the ball around quickly as half time approaches.
Altidore involved in the build up again as the ball comes to Bedoya on the edge of the box. He cuts inside and smacks a shot straight at Penedo, who can only push the ball away.
In the next sequence Diskerud tries a cheeky flick to Altidore on the edge of the box, but as the Sunderland man shoots the defensive line is too close to him and his shot is deflected away. Still Panama 1-0 USA
From a restart inside the Panama half the US go hunting for a gap again, but for once when the ball is eventually worked to Altidore his touch lets him down and the attack breaks down. There may still be joy for the US from this approach as the Panamanians tire later in the game.
HONDURAS NOW LEAD 2-1 AGAINST JAMAICA. As it stands they're qualifying automatically for sure.
Panama get a free kick as Gomez is fouled by Kljestan. They work it wide to Rodriguez but his curled in cross is headed clear by Goodson and the US push upfield.
Every team in the group has scored tonight except the USA. Not much in the way of chances for them so far though, despite Altidore's attempts to bring his team mates into play.
Torres wriggles into space in midfield, looks up and sees Sanchez running forward on the overlap, but he hits his ball well past him and the US have a goal kick.
The US attack and Kljestan tries to get to a ball touched back by Diskerud from the edge of the box, but Panama push up quickly and he's dispossessed.
Another offside decision goes the USA's way as Rodriguez is flagged despite running from an onside position to receive a ball over the top in acres of space. USA living dangerously on these moves. Still Panama 1-0 USA, with half an hour gone.
Panama looking comfortable at the moment. Their wide men have been causing problems and the US back line looking very tentative. They were very lucky with an offside decision a moment or so ago that could have left them two down.
MEXICO HAVE EQUALIZED! PERALTA PUTS THEM BACK IN THE WORLD CUP PLAYOFFS AS IT STANDS!
Ruiz got the goal for Costa Rica by the way. And the news has been greeted with wild cheers in Panama City.
USA just had another ball to clear out of the box. Their group of unfamiliar players not quite working together at the moment. Panama meanwhile are in the playoff as it stands, on goals scored. This is going to be quite a night.
Mexico have had a Chicharito goal disallowed by the way. We know this because Dave Hill wrote in to say this:
How's the weather? Watching Mexico/Costa Rica- it's very wet, several slips by both teams. Chicharito goal disallowed. Tons of Fouls already. Could get ugly
Raining here too. AND COSTA RICA HAVE SCORED! AS IT STANDS PANAMA ARE IN 4th AHEAD OF MEXICO!
The US are clamoring for a penalty after a flurry of blocked shots in the Panama box ends in Penedo grabbing the ball off a pronounced deflection. Ref not interested in the US claims though.
Twitter getting wistful (or possibly slightly critical of Guardian MBM style)
Instantly Panama are on the attack again and Guzan has to dive again, but this time Blas Perez's low shot skims off the turf and straight at him. The US earn a free kick at the other end and are in no hurry to take it after that little stunning passage of play.
GOAL! PANAMA 1-0 USA (G.TORRES!)
USA enjoying a little more possession for the moment and looking for openings again. Bedoya forces a cross in, but it's deflected and charged down before a white shirt can get to it.
Then Panama get forward and on the edge of the box Henriquez holds the ball well before touching it to his left for the onrushing Torres, who hammers the ball into the corner past Guzan.
First corner for the US as Evans gets forward and his cross deflects off Quintero. Still goalless in Costa Rica v Mexico by the way. These games kicked off roughly at the same time. It's cleared but the next attack comes from the US and Altidore barges into the right channel of the box and gets a shot off that's just blocked by a last ditch Torres tackle.
Still nog goals in Mexico, but we go close to one here, as Guzan leaves a ball that goes across goal and Sanchez scoops the ball back across him, but it's not quite on target and is scooped out of the six yard box by Orozco.
USA calming it down for a second as they try to knock it around the back, before working it up to Altidore, who evades Baloy to hold the ball up better than Zusi can receive it. Altidore's hold up play has been pretty decent so far tonight, but the men behind him haven't yet done much with it.
USA trying to attack when they can and looking more lively early on than they did against Jamaica. Speaking of Jamaica, Jamaica just equalized against Honduras via Jorge Claros OG. Still Panama 0-0 USA here, but Sanchez just had a chance for Panama with a beautiful through ball from Quintero.
Now it's Panama's turn to work some passing triangles around the US box and Quintero wants a penalty for Goodson's clearance but has to settle for a corner, which briefly troubles Guzan before the US get it clear.
Honduras have scored against Jamaica. As it stands the best Mexico can do is a playoff spot.
Altidore, captain for the night, holds the ball up well and the US camp in the Panama final third for a moment, moving the ball from flank to flank, before it eventually gets knocked forward harmlessly for Penedo to claim.
So most of the key actors have mud on their boots in these early stages. Panama try to work a throw in behind Evans but he's alert to it on the turn. And then from a longer throw from deep there's a little bit of confusion in the US box as Sanchez forces a corner. It hangs invitingly but just too far for anyone to reach and Evans clears again.
Altidore gets an early touch, laying off the ball for a shot for Bedoya, then Zusi has half a chance as the ball is kept moving forward from the blocked shot, but he can't keep it on target.
We're off, and straight away Panama pick up a free kick midway inside the US half...but it's headed clear with Clarence Goodson's first touch.
Betting rings react
This suspiciously detailed prediction just in...
Let's see — Panama about to kick off in the rain...
I have no idea what @fugexlac is talking about, naturally...
Anthems are happening though, so we'll be off in a second...
USA: Guzan; Evans, Goodson, Orozco, Castillo; Bedoya, Beckerman, Kljestan, Diskerud, Zusi; Altidore (c) Panama: Penedo; Rodríguez, Baloy, R. Torres, L. Henríquez; Gómez, A. Henríquez, Sánchez, Quintero; Blas, G. Torres.
So Castillo gets the start his cameo against Jamaica earned him, as does Zusi and the other sub who impressed, Kljestan. Diskerud, who looked much more effective further forward in the 4-2-3-1 is in there as well. That line of Zusi, Diskerud and Bedoya looks a pretty aggressive one behind Altidore.
LA Galaxy’s Penedo remains in goal for Panama. He’s an excllent shotstopper (standing stock still as bicycle kicks fly past him notwithstanding). Dallas’s Blas Perez is up front and it looks like rather than 4-5-1, Panama will go 4-4-2 at home, as he’s listed alongside Gabriel Torres.
Thankyou for following with the Guardian MBM
We realize that you have a choice of newspapers* and appreciate your support.
*Newspapers such as Panama’s CRITICA, which greeted the news of Raul Jimenez’s bicycle kick goal, or chilena, like this (thanks to George Flowers for pointing this out)
We’re grateful you prefer the gentle whimsy of Guardian hackery, though I might get a bit irritable later on. This is late for me.
So expect a changed look US team tonight, as Landon Donovan and Jermaine Jones have gone home with injuries, and Tim Howard and Matt Besler have left too as part of a “planned rotation” according to US Soccer. That should mean a start for Brad Guzan in goal, who’s been pushing Howard hard of late for the number one spot and will want to impress in a rare start. And Clarence Goodson will be coming in to take Besler’s place, so expect Panama to want to try and test whatever the new look center back pairing is, early.
Interesting to see if Graham Zusi did enough with his goal and lively cameo against Jamaica to get a start — with Donovan out he should be the obvious choice, and he has previous form against Panama — scoring his first international goal against them in July of last year. And after some public praise for Kyle Beckerman we should see the Real Salt Lake defensive midfielder coming in, probably for the injured Jones.
As for the rest, Edgar Castillo looked lively as a sub on the left when he came on and the US switched to 4-2-3-1 on Friday, while Aron Johannsson had a mixed debut, creating a few first half shooting chances, and then not doing a lot with them. Interesting to see if and how he figures alongside Jozy Altidore.
Meanwhile Twitter is feeling conflicted...
Panama are a dangerous team, albeit one that the US have coped with comfortably enough in qualifying and Gold Cup action already this year. Certainly the US can’t afford any of the same sort of complacency they showed up with in the first half against Jamaica, with the Panamanians desperate for a win.
The reason they’re so desperate? Well after 84 minutes against Mexico on Friday, Panama had been level for three minutes and were dreaming of leaving the Azteca with what every other team in the group had done — namely, at least a point. Mexico looked stunned, the crowd was turning and the collective El Tri nightmare looked to be continuing. And then Raul Jimenez did this:
And everybody in Mexico went into a really, really good mood.
The loss meant that Panama have it all to do tonight, but in their favor, for the part of it that they can control, the USA have not been great on the road in qualifying, despite a 100% home record. And having already qualified at the top of the table and fielding a team that’s likely to include some fringe players, the visitors may not be totally focused on the job.
Good evening, and welcome to Panama vs USA — the final game for both teams in this year's World Cup qualifying. First off, quick quiz. Can anyone tell me what this sound is?
Grrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnd...crunch. YAY! (silence)
That's the grind of Concacaf qualifying, in all it's two-staged, hurled-bags-of-batteries-and-unmentionable-fluid-ed glory, coming to a halt. The Hex stage finishes tonight, with the USA already confirmed as table toppers, but their hosts, Panama needing a win and a large dose of good fortune as Mexico go to second place Costa Rica. Mexico in turn will be hoping Jamaica can do them a favor against Honduras, so that they can sneak into that third automatic qualification slot and avoid a two-legged playoff against New Zealand.
I'll try to keep you up to date with events elsewhere as the evening goes on, and will be back shortly with a little more build up and team news. In the meantime you can get your tweets coming in to @KidWeil or emails to email@example.com and catch up on the highlights of what happened when the USA played Jamaica in Kansas City last Friday (you might want to fast forward a bit — just saying...).