The United States are coming off of their first World Cup Qualifying win in Jamaica, ever, and currently sit second in the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying Final Round standings, tied with Costa Rica and Mexico on 7 points, but slotted behind the Ticos on goal differential and ahead of El Tri due to Mexico's having played one more game. Panama spent last Friday earning a home draw against El Tri and are one point behind the leaders in the Hexagonal table.
All of which means that tonight's match-up between the Yanks and Canaleros in Seattle is actually quite a big deal. Juergen Klinsmann will be forced to make at least two changes to the side that won in Kingston, as Jermaine Jones is out after suffering a concussion in that match, and Graham Zusi's second half yellow card on Friday put him over the limit, and he is suspended tonight due to yellow card accumulation. Across the field, Panama dangerman Blas Perez will sit out for an injury of his own. (No word whether now-former D.C. United man Marcos Sanchez will start, or indeed, whether he exists.)
Be sure to grab a nap after work today, because this is going to be a late one.
Time: 10 pm
Venue: Temporary grass laid over the turf pitch at CenuryLink Field, Seattle, Wash.
TV: ESPN, UniMas
Projected USA Lineup: Just the two enforced changes to Klinsy's XI. Tim Howard in goal, with Brad Evans, Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler and DaMarcus Beasley in defense. Look for Sacha Kljestan to replace Jones alongside Michael Bradley. Fabian Johnson moves to Zusi's spot on the right side of midfield to make way for Brad Davis (the most Zusi-like player on the roster, except for being strongly left-footed). Clint Dempsey takes his usual spot in the hole behind Jozy Altidore.
Prediction: I think the surface may give the U.S. some fits, but not so much that they won't run out easy winners in front of more than 30,000 Seattle fans (for once not wearing offensively-colored shirts). I'll take 3-0 for the good guys.
What Are You Drinking?: The drink tonight is a twist on Irish coffee. Last time my wife and I visited her family in Kentucky, we toured the Buffalo Trace distillery in Frankfort and walked out of their shop with something that's only available in the Bluegrass State: Buffalo Trace Bourbon Cream liqueur. Think Bailey's, but with bourbon instead of Irish whiskey acting as the base. I'm going to brew up a pot of coffee and spike each cup with this deliciousness. (Either that, or I'll just have tea or water. The game is really late for an old fogey like me.)
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