Today’s rematch against Panama comes 11 days following the June 11th 2-1 loss handed to the U.S. by the Panamanians, which ended the United States’ 26-game unbeaten streak in first round matches.
No one has to remind Panama coach Julio Cesar Dely Valdes about how much higher the stakes are.
“This time is going to be very different from the match we played in the previous stage,” he said. “It will be very complicated.”
Panama will have to play without striker Blas Perez, whose physical presence was critical in the first meeting.
Perez will serve a one-game suspension for a red card during the intermission between regulation and extra time in its quarterfinal shootout win over El Salvador. Against the United States, he drew a foul from U.S. defender Tim Ream in the penalty area to set up Gabriel Gomez’s penalty kick.
The U.S.-Panama semifinal will precede Mexico’s meeting with Honduras at a sold-out Reliant Stadium in Houston.