The Panama men’s national team is in Honduras for the first of its November friendlies. On November 20, Los Canaleros will close out 2018 with a home game against Ecuador, but first they have to settle a visit to a more familiar opponent.
There is not a great deal at stake in this game, other than a degree of local rivalry and the usual opportunity for players to advance their careers with eye-catching performances at the international level.
For Panama, the priority perhaps is to build a younger squad capable of emulating the achievements of the group that took the team to its first World Cup. Los Canaleros are not looking at a total rebuild: there were younger players on the roster that went to Russia this summer, including New York Red Bulls defenders Fidel Escobar and Amir Murillo.
But it is time to advance a new generation of Panamanian soccer talent for the next World up cycle. Especially up front, where Panama has lost the services of seemingly ageless forwards Blas Perez and Luis Tejada. In this squad, Carlos Small, Jorlian Sanchez, and Alfredo Stephens will get a chance to show what they have to offer the attack against an opponent Los Canaleros can reasonably assume will stand between them and another World Cup appearance.
RBNY fans can expect both Escobar and Murillo to get minutes in Panama’s November friendlies. With an Eastern Conference Final against Atlanta United waiting for them on their return from international duty, it is to be hoped the Red Bulls’ Panamanian pair have a morale-boosting excursion with their national team, but don’t exert themselves too much.