clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Panama and Mexico tie, 0-0, on a rainy night in Panama City

Conditions were not ideal, but both sides will likely be happy enough with the point.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

While the US Men's National Team was getting thrashed in Costa Rica, Panama and Mexico played out a 0-0 drawin Panama City.

The match was played on a rain-soaked field that didn't allow either to generate a great deal of momentum with the ball. But credit Panama for making the most of the conditions and ensuring El Tri's Guillermo Ochoa was the busier of the two 'keepers.

Though Panama will know it missed a very good chance to win, the result arguably suits both teams.

When the Hex schedules were announced, Mexico would have looked at opening fixtures in the USA and Panama and perhaps thought three points an acceptable return - with one point from the two away games being possibly the minimum target. Four points after those two matches is a better scenario than might have been reasonably expected, especially since three of them were gained at USMNT's expense.

The draw in Panama is a modest disappointment for El Tri after the big win in Columbus, but it was a wet night and Los Canaleros got out to a hot start in the Hex with an unexpected win in Honduras. Mexico's schedule in this tournament is a little lopsided. El Tri will play three of its first four games on the road: if it can get to the end of March with eight to 10 points, it is well ahead of the pace required to not just qualify for the World Cup but also win the Hex (which counts for little but bragging rights, but who doesn't like to brag now and then?).

Panama, meanwhile, should be very happy to have taken four points from its opening two matches in the Hex. Los Canaleros would have been applauded for a draw in Honduras; a win was a huge boost to the team's World Cup qualifying ambitions.

Once three points had been gained in Honduras, Panama's task was to not squander the advantage gained. A point - even at home - from a game against Mexico is a solid return.

Los Canaleros can look ahead to March with some excitement. The next round of the Hex brings a trip to play Trinidad and Tobago, who currently look the worst team in the tournament. And then USMNT will visit Panama on March 28.

That end-of-March meeting between Los Canaleros and the USA is currently looking like the most interesting match-up in the Hex's immediate future. Panama has got  a four-point jump on USMNT after two games, and if it can maintain or extend that lead through the next round of matches, then Los Canaleros start to look like very solid contenders for automatic qualification to the World Cup.

For the USA, the task is simply to get back on track by beating all the teams in this tournament not named Mexico or Costa Rica. And Panama is currently the greatest threat to USMNT's expectation of a top-three finish in the Hex and a guaranteed place at Russia 2018.

On the evidence of Los Canaleros' 0-0 draw with Mexico, the USA should expect an exacting test in Panama City at the end of March.