Mexico overcame a spirited Panama side 3-1 to remain perfect in the CONCACAF Nations League.

Panama had frustrated an initially dominant Mexico team after Carlos Salcedo's 42nd-minute own goal cancelled out Roberto Alvarado's opener on Tuesday.

However, Jose Juan Macias came off the bench to restore Mexico's lead 15 minutes from the end and Rodolfo Pizarro made sure of the win in the second minute of stoppage time in the Group B clash.

Mexico, who crushed Bermuda 5-1 in their Nations League opener, controlled proceedings from the outset against Panama at Estadio Azteca.

El Tri put the ball in the back of the net in the 23rd minute after Carlos Rodriguez's shot was parried into the path of Hirving Lozano but it was ruled out for offside.

Lozano was in the thick of the action again as he rattled the crossbar with a ferocious long-range attempt four minutes later.

Mexico did get their goal a minute later, when Alvarado curled a shot past Panama goalkeeper Luis Mejia.

After Lozano flashed a shot wide of the post approaching the interval, Panama equalised against the run of black with three minutes remaining prior to half-time.

The sliding Salcedo attempted to block a cross into the six-yard box, but the Mexico defender unfortunately turned the ball into his own net.

Panama surged forward and almost took a 53rd-minute lead as Mexico goalkeeper Raul Gudino stood tall to deny Jose Rodriguez.

The lively Lozano was forced from the field with a foot injury in a huge blow for Mexico and Napoli after the hour.

But Mexico eased the tension within the stadium as the spirited Panama side came unstuck in the 75th minute after Macias received the ball on the edge of the area and fired a shot through the hands of Mejia, while Pizarro sealed the points in the 92nd minute with a shot into the top corner.

 

What does it mean? El Tri stay top

It was not straightforward, but Mexico made it two wins from two matches in Group B on Tuesday. The home side did not have it their own way, though they now find themselves three points clear.

Napoli left sweating over Lozano

Serie A title hopefuls Napoli will be praying Lozano's injury is not too serious. The Mexico star was carried off the field on a stretcher with 24 minutes remaining due to an ankle injury.

Panama impress away from home

Not much was expected from Panama, who had only won three of their previous 20 games. However, the visitors were great value after recovering from an early deficit, albeit in fortuitous circumstances.

What's next?

Mexico and Panama will do battle again on November 15, with the latter welcoming El Tri to their country.

Panama knew 2019 would be a year of transition. You don’t make the FIFA World Cup for the first-time ever and come out the same on the other side.

The transition continues into Nations League play, with coach Americo Gallego taking over as manager after Julio Dely Valdes took over on an interim basis and guided the Caneleros to the Gold Cup quarterfinals.

Gallego hasn’t managed professionally since 2015, but Panama is betting the veteran Argentine will be the man needed to help Panama’s new generation bloom.

Some holdovers remain from the generation that helped the traditionally baseball-crazy country turn into a soccer nation. Adolfo Machado, the 34-year-old defender, and plus midfielders Alberto Quintero and Armando Cooper, both 31, lend a veteran presence to the team.

Its success, however, will largely depend on how quickly the next generation gets locked in. Attacking midfielder Edgar Barcenas and defender Fidel Escobar both have been involved with the national team for some time now, but the Spain-based players will be expected to produce results for Gallego’s squad.

Other players benefitting from the Panama-to-Spain connection paved by Rommel Fernandez and Dely Valdes, including Alaves B midfielder Jose Luis Rodriguez, who started all three matches at the 2018 World Cup. and Cartagena midfielder Adalberto Carrasquilla also will be hoping to break through.

Gallego has pieces to work with, but change rarely happens over night in international soccer. He’ll have to make a connection quickly with his players to find success in a group including upset-minded Bermuda and Gold Cup champion Mexico.

The first-ever Concacaf Nations League A match takes place today, with Bermuda welcoming Panama to the National Stadium in Hamilton.

Each team goes into the Group B opener looking to get off to a good start. Bermuda got its first-ever Gold Cup victory over the summer and has been tough to beat at home, topping Sint Maarten and El Salvador in Nations League qualification.

 Bermuda manager Kyle Lightbourne has cautioned against opponents overlooking his team, and it’s easy to see why with Queens Park Rangers forward Nahki Wells looking to score in the third consecutive match for the Gombey Warriors.

Forward Jonte Smith, who is looking for a club in England, and goalkeeper Jahquil Hill, who is injured, will miss out for Bermuda, while fullback Kevin Galvan had to be replaced on Panama’s roster.

 

Today’s CONCACAF Nations League Fixtures

 

League A

Bermuda - Panama

League B

Dominica - Suriname

Grenada - Saint Kitts and Nevis

French Guiana - Belize

Nicaragua - Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

League C

Barbados - Saint Martin

Guatemala – Anguilla

United States Virgin Islands - Cayman Islands

Experienced campaigner Darren Mattocks held his nerve from the penalty spot to book Jamaica’s place in the semi-final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup as they triumphed 1-0 over Panama in a battle of attrition at the Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday.

In a game that saw few quality chances created by either side, Mattocks came off the bench to first win the spot kick and then convert it in the 75th minute, sending Jamaica through to the final four for a third consecutive tournament.  Only minutes after on to the field Mattocks headed a hopeful long ball into the area off the outstretched arm of defender Michael Murillo.

After a brief dispute over who would take the spot kick, the forward wrested the ball away before placing it on the spot and firing past Panama goalkeeper Luis Mejia.  The goal was Mattock’s fifth overall in the competition.  With defenders dominating the play for most of the afternoon, Panama had missed a golden opportunity to take the lead when  Abdiel Arroyo broke through on goal but blasted a shot into the side netting at the near post from close range in the 26th minute.

The result will mean the Jamaicans will face the United States in the next round after the defending champions narrowly got by Curacao 1-0 in the day’s other game.

Jozy Altidore's second-half goal saw the United States overcome Panama 1-0 to complete a perfect group-stage campaign at the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Altidore's overhead kick in the 66th minute gave USA a third win from as many games in Group D, securing top spot and a quarter-final clash against Curacao.

USA made 11 changes to their starting line-up and it showed, but Altidore – having squandered two great chances earlier – stepped up to secure three points in Kansas City.

While they were unconvincing, Gregg Berhalter's USA did enough to complete the perfect group-stage campaign.

USA made a lively start as they pushed for an opening goal and it almost came through Altidore in the 16th minute.

After Panama turned over possession, Jordan Morris played in Altidore, but the striker pulled his shot wide from an angle from inside the area.

Altidore squandered another chance five minutes later, the striker putting a tame shot straight at Panama goalkeeper Jose Calderon after a Cristian Roldan cutback.

Jonathan Lewis was denied by an excellent Fidel Escobar block, while Jose Fajardo fired wide for Panama on the counter-attack six minutes before half-time.

Both teams struggled to begin the second half, leading to the introduction of USA star Christian Pulisic just after the hour-mark.

The opener followed for USA after a corner as Altidore scored his 42nd international goal.

The set-piece went uncleared and some poor defending from Panama led to Altidore producing an overhead kick from close range to make it 1-0.

That was all USA needed, closing out a narrow victory as neither side created much of note in the closing stages.

 

What does it mean? Job done for USA

USA simply needed to avoid defeat to secure top spot and the easier quarter-final clash, avoiding Jamaica. Berhalter's side got the job done despite what was an unconvincing display.

Changes could hurt USA

USA were beginning to find rhythm in wins over Guyana (4-0) and Trinidad and Tobago (6-0). Still, Berhalter opted to rest what is seemingly his preferred team and it remains to be seen whether that was the right decision.

Altidore goal not enough

The Toronto striker scored, but he also missed two chances in the first half. That is unlikely to be enough to earn him a start ahead of Gyasi Zardes, who has three goals at the tournament.

What's next?

Both teams will play in Philadelphia on Sunday. USA take on Curacao, while Panama face Jamaica.

Panama became the first team from Group D of the CONCACAF Gold Cup to make it to the quarterfinals after two goals in each half gave them a 4-2 win over Guyana at the FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland. 

The high press is expected to a feature of Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz play during their campaign at the FIFA Women’s World Cup this summer. However, head coach Hue Menzies believes the team needs to a better job of taking advantage of those situations once they win the ball back in their opponents defensive third.

Jamaica pressed Panama high up the pitch during their 3-1 win at the National Stadium in Kingston on Sunday night. Their forwards – Bunny Shaw, Trudi Carter, and Mireya Gray, and midfielders Marlo Sweatman, Laura Jackson and Olufolasade Adamolekun – closed the spaces down on the Panamanian defenders and forced turnovers during the opening 30 minutes of the fame but failed to capitalize.

A brace from Bunny Shaw and one from Shakira Duncan sealed the Jamaican win over the Panamanians for whom Natalia Mills scored.

However, in the early exchanges, Jamaica missed several clear opportunities to score before Shaw managed to give the home side a 1-nil lead in the 29th minute. It could easily have been three-nil had Trudi Carter, playing in her first match since last October, Shaw, and fullback Dominique Bond-Flasza, not muffed easy chances to score.

“We talked about defending a little higher up the field so we can capitalize on some things. We won a lot of corner kicks, which was good but we still need to capitalize on those opportunities,” he said.

“We should have been up some goals early in the game. We just didn’t capitalize on them.”

Menzies pinpointed other issues that he plans to work on before the team makes their berth in the World Cup against Brazil on June 9.

“Our possession game, playing out the back, our midfield was a little stagnant. Obviously, we don’t have all the players here, but it shows the depth of what we have created,” he said, saying Shakira Duncan’s goal, Jamaica’s third was evidence of how well the team has progressed in recent months.

“Shaki’s goal dictates how good we are, getting forward with numbers. We think we are the best in the world at that. We lured them into possession and then we countered and that’s what we talked about.”

He also talked about the number of turnovers caused by errant passes, another they have identified that they have to work on before they get to France next month.

Jamaica talismanic striker Khadijah Shaw found the back of the net in typically routine fashion as the national team registered a 2-0 win over Panama at the National Stadium on Sunday.

The match-up served as part of a final set of preparations ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in June.  It was nonetheless, a closely contested affair in a blossoming rivalry between the teams.  Shaw, however, proved to be the early difference between the teams when she found the back of the net in the 29th minute.  The forward doubled the lead soon after the resumption, but Panama pulled one back through Natalia Mills in the 68th minute.  It proved to be a mere consolation, however, as Shakira Duncan rounded out a well-deserved win for the home team with a goal in the 80th minute.  The Jamaicans will open their campaign against Brazil on June 9, before facing Australia and Italy.

More than 800 female footballers from 22 schools will be among the expected thousands of patrons at Jamaica’s National Stadium on Sunday cheering on the Reggae Girlz in their final home match before they depart before they begin their FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign in June.

Jamaica will be playing Panama the team they beat 4-2 on penalties last October to qualify for their very first berth in the Women’s World Cup.

Tickets were possible for the girls, who play in the ISSA Schoolgirl Football Competition, by Winsynco through their bottled-water brand WATA, one of the sponsors of the Reggae Girlz.

“The WATA Football Showcase is all about Girl Power! We are celebrating the achievements of our Reggae Girlz and the dedication of our ISSA Schoolgirls football teams to sports,” said Tamara Ward, Wisynco’s Senior Marketing and Public Relations Manager.

“Our hope is to inspire these ladies through a fun and healthy social interaction among their peers that build confidence, team spirit, motivates them to make the right decisions and find balance in their nutrition habits.

“We are thrilled to have made this experience possible for forty-five teams or over eight hundred young girls."

In addition to match tickets, the players will also get a presentation about nutrition by fitness expert Kamila McDonald as well as an inspirational presentation by a member of the Reggae Girlz team.

They will also to take team photos to commemorate the day and get football gear and lunch.

Additionally, WATA ambassador Wayne Marshall will perform for them.

Trinidad and Tobago and Panama maintained their 100 per cent win records by each winning their second matches in Group B at 2019 CONCACAF Beach Soccer Championship in Mexico on Tuesday.

Following their 1-1 draw with South Africa back in April, the Reggae Girlz will be back in action on Sunday when they take on a strong Panama unit, hoping to exact revenge following their 4-2 penalty shoot-out loss in the World Cup qualifiers last year.

 A bit of the aforementioned recent history seemed very much on the mind of head coach Hue Menzies as he assembled a strong squad to face the Central Americans on home soil.

Veteran attacking player Khadija Shaw will once again lead the line and will be joined by returning attacking AS Roma based midfielder Trudi Carter, who has been out for four months due to injury.

 Menzies is expected to name his final 23-man squad for the World Cup this week, and so he will be looking closely at some players.

 “We are in the last week of selecting our group and some of these players were told to step up if they are to make the cut. We have brought in the technology to test some of these players and so I feel it will come down to a more psychological aspect for some of these girls,” Menzies said.

 The coach had high praises for University of Tennessee graduate Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw who showed excellent physical ability in practice.

 “When you look at the work ethic of someone like ‘Bunny’ it shows that some of the senior players are ready for the task at hand, it is very encouraging heading into our final set of warm-up games,” he added.

 Following the Panama friendly on Sunday, the squad will depart on Monday for a camp in Florida where the likes of players like Jody Brown and Marlo Sweatman are expected to join up with the team.

The Girls will then depart for the United Kingdom for a friendly against Scotland in Edinburgh on May 28.

 

Panama shut out Jamaica 3-0 at the third Gloves over Guns fight card held at the Stanley Couch Gym in Kingston on Saturday.

The United States will get a chance to exact revenge on Trinidad and Tobago at the Gold Cup after they were drawn together in a group that also features Panama and Guyana.

It was a 2-1 loss to Trinidad and Tobago in October 2017, coupled with Panama's dramatic win over Costa Rica, that meant the USA failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup - the first time they had missed the tournament since 1986.

At this year's Gold Cup, defending champions the USA will face Trinidad and Tobago and Panama in Group D, as well as Guyana, who qualified for their first major tournament last month.

Mexico will face Canada, Martinique and Cuba in Group A, while Costa Rica will meet Haiti, Nicaragua and Bermuda in Group B, and Honduras will have encounters with Jamaica, El Salvador and Curacao in Group C.

The tournament, expanded to 16 teams from 12, begins on June 15 and most of the fixtures will take place in the USA, though double-headers will be staged in Costa Rica and Jamaica.

 

Group A: Mexico, Canada, Martinique, Cuba.

Group B: Costa Rica, Haiti, Nicaragua, Bermuda.

Group C: Honduras, Jamaica, El Salvador, Curacao.

Group D: United States, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana.

President of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association has described the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup Group D as an interesting one.

Jamaica’s Jessica Cargill won a historic gold medal at the Pan American Championships in Panama on Saturday while teammate Alton Brown came away with a silver medal. Both athletes are members of the newly formed Jamaica Karate Federation.

Reggae Girl defender Dominique Bond-Flasza believes she has matured as a player since her FIFA World-Cup qualifying heroics in Texas last October and is eagerly anticipating the competition in France this summer.

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