photo by John Dorton/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
TAMPA – The results in Group C began as expected, but Panama's 2-1 upset win over the U.S. men's national team on Saturday night has made Tuesday a vital day for all four top teams in the group.
Canada won in uninspiring fashion over Guadeloupe, needing a Dwayne De Rosario penalty kick to defeat a team playing with 10 men for nearly the entire game. But that result, combined with the Americans' surpise defeat, has allowed every team to still have a realistic chance of qualifying for the knockout phase of the tournament.
That the Americans are entering essentially a must-win game against Guadeloupe is nothing but surprising, and Saturday's result was just equally as disappointing.
"We've got to learn something from it, but that doesn't help us for Tuesday," said Landon Donovan following the 2-1 loss. "Tuesday we've got to turn around and make sure we're ready to play. We've got to win Tuesday, see what else happens and see where we end up. We're still fine, we've just got to make sure we learn some lessons from tonight."
Whatever lessons they may be, the United States needs a win, not only to secure qualification but also to restore some team confidence.
Head coach Bob Bradley said following Tuesday's loss that with only two days to prepare for the match at Livestrong Sporting Park, he's going to consider changes. Some of the positions where changes might come are in central defense, central midfield and at forward.
"We just look at ourselves and see the areas where we think we need to improve in order to continue to move forward in this tournament," said Bradley.
Even if the Americans progress to the next stage of the tournament, just who they will play ranges anywhere from Costa Rica to in-form Jamaica to archrival Mexico. That will be determined via the U.S. team's result on Tuesday as well as other results throughout the tournament.
For the United States, however, no result is as important as Canada versus Panama.
The two teams will do battle on Tuesday prior to the U.S. team's game versus Guadeloupe, so the Americans will know what kind of result they'll need in order to advance, or maybe even win the group.
All that means is that the United States is in for an intense final day of the group stages, a day where its result and another will determine its future in the tournament.
What do you think of Group C? What type of result are you expecting out of Canada-Panama? Do you still believe the Americans can win the group?
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