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Bulls Abroad: Michael Amir Murillo starts in Panama's 1-1 draw with USA at 2017 Gold Cup

Murillo and Panama enjoyed a solid start to the 2017 Gold Cup.

The Tennessean-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Amir Murillo seemed to struggle at times to contain his side of field. It was perhaps no surprise that the USA's one and only goal against Panama in the opening game of Group B of the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup came from Murillo's side of the field.

New England Revolution's Kelyn Rowe squeezed past the New York Red Bulls right-back, and Dom Dwyer connected with the cross for his second goal for the USA in just two international appearances.

Nonetheless, it was an encouraging performance for Murillo, who collected his 12th international cap. He survived an injury scare to play the full 90 minutes, and the fact he was in the starting lineup at all is itself a compliment to his national team's estimation of his abilities. Panama drew 1-1, and the USA had as many uncomfortable moments in defense as its opponent.

The 21-year-old Murillo is the second-youngest player in the Panama squad. The roster lacks many senior members of the player pool as Los Canaleros look to develop some emerging talent with a view to strengthening the teams that will contest the remainder of Panama's World Cup qualifying games later this year.

Murillo was also a starter in Panama's last World Cup qualifier - a 2-2 draw with Honduras on June 13. The team has now drawn its last four competitive games, including two against the USA. Wins will be required to advance to Russia 2018, and Los Canaleros will hope to develop a habit of winning at this Gold Cup. For Murillo, the challenge is to hold on to his place in the starting lineup and prove he is part of the solution to the problems Panama hopes to resolve during this competition.