After failing to qualify for their World Cup last year, the U.S. men’s soccer team is following the exploits of the American women in France at their World Cup.
“We’ve been watching every game and paying close attention,” defender Tim Ream said Tuesday ahead of the U.S. men’s group stage finale against Panama in the CONCACAF Gold Cup in Kansas City, Kan. “They have our full support.”
The U.S. and Panama are both 2-0 and have clinched berths in the quarterfinals on Sunday in Philadelphia. The Americans would clinch Group D with a win or a draw and would face the second-place team from Group C: Jamaica, El Salvador or Curacao.
“We want to win the group,” Berhalter said. “We know Panama is a difficult opponent. We always have tough games against Panama. We’ve met them in the last seven Gold Cups and all the games have been close games.”
Meanwhile in France, the defending champion U.S. women play the host nation Friday in a quarterfinal at Paris.
Photo: Kirk Irwin / Getty Images
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“It’s great,” men’s coach Gregg Berhalter said. “We’re proud of what they’re doing. We’re really happy that the whole country is tied into their quest for the world championship. When you look at the World Cup being played and the Gold Cup being played at the same time, all it does is bring more attention to soccer, and that’s fantastic.”
While the U.S. men are ranked 30th, Panama is 75th. Yet, Panama edged out the U.S. in World Cup qualifying on the final night and went to last year’s tournament in Russia while the U.S. did not. Panama went 0-3 at the World Cup and was outscored 11-2.
The U.S. enters following a 4-0 win over 177th-ranked Guyana and a 6-0 rout of No. 92 Trinidad and Tobago.
Wednesday’s games: Jamaica and Curacao battled to a 1-1 draw in the final Group C match and the first-ever Gold Cup game at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles. With the draw, Jamaica advances to its third consecutive Gold Cup quarterfinals. … In the second game, Honduras picked up a 4-0 win against El Salvador. The result signifies El Salvador’s exit from the tournament and gives Curacao its first appearance in the Gold Cup knockout stage.
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