USA vs. Panama Odds, Pick, Prediction, Preview, Best Bets: Can Christian Pulisic, Americans Take Huge Step in 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier?

USA vs. Panama Odds, Pick, Prediction, Preview, Best Bets: Can Christian Pulisic, Americans Take Huge Step in 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier? article feature image

John Dorton/ISI Photos/Getty Images. Pictured: United States star Christian Pulisic.

  • The United States hosts Panama in a crucial FIFA World Cup qualifier Sunday in Orlando.
  • The Americans, who are heavy-250 ML favorites, are hoping to secure a huge win to get close to Qatar.
  • Ian Quillen breaks down the matchup below and details why he’s expecting the USMNT to roll past its opponents.

USA vs. Panama Odds

USA Odds-250
Panama Odds+725
Over/Under2.5 (-110 / -130)
Day | TimeSunday | 7 p.m. ET
LocationExploria Stadium, Orlando
How To WatchFS1 | fuboTV
Odds updated via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute soccer odds here.

The United States can virtually seal a trip to Qatar if it can defeat Panama on Sunday in the teams' penultimate FIFA World Cup qualifying match  in Orlando.

The USMNT enters this fixture in second place in the race for three automatic berths following its 0-0 draw against Mexico on Thursday in Mexico City.

A win over Panama, plus a draw or defeat for Costa Rica at El Salvador, would officially book the Americans' place at the World Cup later this year.  If Costa Rica and the U.S. both win, the Ticos would have to beat the visiting Americans and make up a substantial goal difference to knock them out of third place.

Panama is now fifth, sitting a point behind Costa Rica for the fourth-place spot that comes with an intercontinental playoff berth. Following a 1-1 draw home to Honduras on Thursday, its only current guarantee of a top-four finish is to win its last two games at the U.S. and home to Canada.

USA Focused on Landing Crucial Victory

Before Thursday's draw, manager Gregg Berhalter publicly discussed the possibility he might rest some of his regulars with an eye toward this game.

That proved a ruse. The starting lineup he fielded clearly signaled an intent to try and earn a first-ever American qualifying win in Mexico. It very nearly worked, with the visitors clearly creating the more dangerous chances.

Memo Ochoa made excellent saves to deny Yunus Musah and Christian Pulisic before halftime. Then substitute Jordan Pefok flubbed arguably the best look of the entire contest after the break following Gio Reyna's gorgeous setup.

There will be a price to pay for that calculated risk, though. Outside back De'Andre Yedlin and winger Tim Weah picked up yellow cards, meaning they'll have to serve card-accumulation suspensions against Panama.

Yedlin's absence and a positive COVID-19 test for Reggie Cannon mean Berhalter had to call in Shaq Moore as a late addition for right-back depth.

Center back Miles Robinson also picked up a yellow card in the match against Mexico. He joins Pefok, midfielder Tyler Adams and goalkeeper Zack Steffen sitting on yellow cards entering this latest match.

And remember, regulars Weston McKennie, Sergiño Dest and Brenden Aaronson remain out injured. That trio accounts for five of the Americans' 16 qualifying goals.

FIFA 2022 World Cup CONCACAF Standings

Costa Rica5-3-419
El Salvador2-6-410

Panama Chasing Huge Result on American Soil

Manager Thomas Christiansen's side was overlooked for Jamaica and Honduras in discussions of possible dark horses when qualifying began.

Clearly that was an error. Despite few players with upper tier pedigree — including two in Major League Soccer and one in Belgium's top flight — Los Canaleros have been a difficult task for everyone they've faced.

That includes the first time around for the Americans.

Coming off a comfortable 2-0 home win over Jamaica, the U.S. looked second best for much of the first half, conceded nine minutes after the break on Anibal Godoy's corner-kick header and never really looked like equalizing in a 1-0 defeat in Panama City.

But of late, Panama has the look of losing steam. The nation was unlucky not to earn a point in its 1-0 defeat at Mexico two games ago, in which the host was awarded a dodgy penalty late in the second half.

And maybe Panama wasn't cutthroat enough Thursday when it allowed a Honduras side playing for only pride to answer back after taking an early lead on Rolando Blackburn's fifth qualifying goal.

Additionally, Panama has never scored, nor earned a point, in four previous World Cup qualifying visits to the United States.

However, it's a little difficult to consider how much that track record matters, given how drastically improved Panama's national program is since the first of those meetings in 2005.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

Were this game earlier in the cycle, I'd be inclined to play some sort of wager leveraging Panama's pragmatism with the Americans' slow starts.

But Panama's position — backed into a corner — makes me hesitate there. This could be a much more open affair than it would've been two or three games ago, given the visitors will also want (need?) all three points.

And the gap in pedigree here is enough that I expect the Americans to find a way to win — as they have five of their previous home qualifiers — to the point where even the money line represents value. A -250 bet definitely isn't sexy. Yet, it reflects a 5-in-7 implied probability and in my view Berhalter's group win this one at least that often given their excellent home CONCACAF history.

For a more lucrative betting angle, I think it's considerably more likely the U.S. wins by two or more goals than splitting points. That said, I'm playing the USMNT at -1 goal via the spread line on the Asian Handicap as my top pick.

You can shop around a bit for your best number, though, which I highly recommend. At time of writing, this wager sits at -140 on DraftKings, then a touch longer at -150 at PointsBet.

If the U.S. wins by exactly a goal, it's a push. So, at -140 odds, you're backing an implied 58.3% probability that all games that aren't one-goal wins are multi-goal victories.

History bares this out. Since the 1998 cycle, the U.S. has dropped points at home seven times in the final round, while winning by multiple goals on 19 or more occasions. That's a 73.1% lean in favor of multi-goal wins.

When you remove opponents that either finished in the top three in the past or sit top three currently, it becomes 12 multi-goal wins and two times dropping points. That's an even heavier 85.6% lean.

Pick: USA -1 (-140)

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