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U.S. men's schedule, results

U.S. men's roster

Ching, Donovan provide the goals as U.S. defeats El Salvador 2-0 to take Group 1 qualifying lead.

U.S. was dominant, but could have done better in beating El Salvador.

Ching gains repemption, his goal in 89th minute earning 1-1 qualifying draw in Jamaica.

Reserves spark late rally that allows U.S. to steal important road point in Jamaica.

Bocanegra header is enough for 1-1 draw with Poland.

Mission accomplished for Americans in disposing of Grenada.

Americans take it to next round with 3-2 defeat of Grenada.

Lackadaisical Americans are lucky to tie Poland.

Beasley's pair sparks 3-0 victory over Grenada to open qualifing series.

Second-half goals relieve pressure on U.S. for Grenada return leg.

McBride's two goals spark 4-0 romp over Honduras as Reyna reaches 100-cap milestone.

U.S. heads into qualifying on positive note after drubbing Honduras.

Pope knocks home rebound in stoppage time to defeat Mexico 1-0.

U.S. put in impressive effort against Mexico, even before Pope won it.

Beasley goal defeats Poland 1-0, hands Arena first win over host Europeans.

Gritty American effort defeats Poland for first win of 2004.

Califf's tally late in stoppage time salvages 1-1 draw with Haiti.

Outplayed by Haiti, Americans are fortunate to gain 1-1 draw.

Goal by teen Robben sends Netherlands past U.S. 1-0.

Netherlands was clearly superior in victory over Americans.

U.S. men

Arena might rely more on experience in qualifier against surprising Panama.

By Robert Wagman

PANAMA CITY, Panama (Tuesday, September 7, 2004) -- There has been no change in Panama's roster recently, but a game that a week ago looked like it might be a breeze for the United States men suddenly shapes up to be a battle.

Rather than struggling to escape the basement of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying semifinal Group A, as many expected, Panama (1-1, 3 points) can take over at least a share of first place by beating the visiting U.S. (1-0-1, 4) Wednesday night at Estadio Rommel Fernandez, in a 9 p.m. (ET) match that will be broadcast live by Fox Sports World and on delay by Telemndo at 11:30 p.m.

A wildly-enthusiastic capacity crowd of 25,000 is expected in a country treating this game as one of its biggest sports events in years. It has been raining hard today and showers are forecast for the opening whistle tomorrow night.

What a difference an upset makes. Panama's 37-year-old veteran striker Julio Dely Valdes scored deep into stoppage time to give Panama a 2-1 triumph Saturday over host Jamaica (0-1-1, 1) which played shorthanded after Ian Goodison who was sent off in the 33rd minute. The Reggae Boyz, playing in front of a highly partisan crowd of 24,500 at National Stadium in Kingston, had probably expected an easy time, but instead find themselves in last place.

Jamaica now visits El Salvador (1-1, 3) Wednesday night in great need of a positive result. The top two teams in Group A, in which each team plays six times, advance to the six-nation, 10-match final round. The top three finishers in CONCACAF's final round robin earn 2006 World Cup berths while the fourth-place finisher will play an Asian nation in a two-game playoff for a fourth Cup invitation.

If Panama had sunk to 0-2, it would have been in a desperate situation against the Americans. Instead, the Panamanians will be a more confident bunch which can take a more measured approach to the match.

Still, the U.S. has superior talent to Panama and should win tomorrow night's game. Even a draw would be a satisfactory result, giving the U.S. five points with two of the three remaining group games on home soil.

Just as U.S. manager Bruce Arena made seven changes to his starting lineup from the 1-1 draw in Jamaica August 18, there should be several alterations from the cast that blanked El Salvador 2-0 Saturday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. After that game, Arena indicated he would likely make a number of changes in the lineup for Panama.

Against El Salvador, Arena employed the youngest team ever to represent the U.S. in a qualifier. Against Panama, he might revert to a more veteran squad in order to cope with the hostile environment of a road game.

Although Arena won't reveal his lineup until shortly before game time tomorrow night, it could be assumed Kasey Keller will be in goal. Tim Howard posted a shutout against El Salvador without making a save Saturday, then returned to England to join Manchester United. Injury-riddled United (1-1-2, 5) is off to a rough start, sitting in an unaccustomed ninth place in the English Premier League with a tricky Saturday visit to its neighbor, the third-place Bolton Wanderers (3-0-1, 10).

Eddie Pope should return to the central defense, re-joining partner Carlos Bocanegra, after being held out Saturday with a bruised hip. Steve Cherundolo and Bobby Convey did well on the right and left defensive flanks, respectively, against the Salvadorans, but Frankie Hedjuk and Greg Vanney could get the call for those positions tomorrow night.

Certainly, Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley and Claudio Reyna will start in the midfield. If lefty Eddie Lewis gets the call to fill the fourth midfield spot, Reyna might be asked to assume more defensive responsibilities. Kerry Zavagnin got the call to replace the injured Chris Armas as the defensive midfielder against El Salvador.

Brian Ching has scored key goals in both U.S. qualifiers in this round, the equalizer against Jamaica in the 89th minute and the early decisive tally against the Salvadorans in his first international start. Conor Casey has displayed great promise on the front line early in his international career, but Arena might opt to pair veteran Brian McBride with one of the youngsters to add some experience to his strike force.

Dely Valdes is Panama's most renowned player and has enjoyed an illustrious career in which he's played for Paris St. Germain in France, Malaga in Spain and Uruguay's Nacional. Now, near the end of his career, after being honored by a testimonial match and with a street named after him, he is back with his national team and competing in the nation's domestic league. While he is not the player he once was, Dely Valdes demonstrated to Jamaica he still has pace and can finish with accuracy.

Most of Panama's roster plays in the country's small domestic league. One who doesn't is midfielder Roberto Brown, whose early header off a corner kick put Panama ahead of Jamaica 1-0 early Saturday. Plying his trade for Salzburg in Austria, Brown's parents were born in Jamaica, but have lived in Panama. Brown did not join Panama until he was passed over by Jamaica a number of years ago.

In addition to Howard, midfielder Eddie Gaven (MetroStars) and striker Eddie Johnson (Dallas Burn) were sent back to their Major League Soccer clubs, reducing the roster to 20 for today's trip to Panama.

The U.S. roster with players' club affiliation in parentheses.

United States

Goalkeepers (2): Kasey Keller (Tottenham Hotspur, England), Jonny Walker (MetroStars, Major League Soccer).
Defenders (8): Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham, England), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96, Germany), Bobby Convey (Reading, England), Cory Gibbs (Dallas Burn, MLS), Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew, MLS), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege, Belgium), Eddie Pope (MetroStars, MLS), Greg Vanney (Bastia, France)
Midfielders (7): DaMarcus Beasley (PSV Eindhoven, Netherlands), Landon Donovan, (San Jose Earthquakes, MLS), Cobi Jones (Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS), Eddie Lewis (Preston North End, England), Clint Mathis (Hannover 96, Germany), Claudio Reyna (Manchester City, England), Kerry Zavagnin (Kansas City Wizards, MLS).
Forwards (3): Conor Casey (Mainz, Germany), Brian Ching (San Jose, MLS), Brian McBride (Fulham, England).

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