For the United States, Friday's 1-0 victory over Haiti wasn't the kind that inspired much confidence.
In fact, following two straight underwhelming performances on the trot, the U.S. Men are doing a decent job of impersonating the Women's World Cup champions, who looked anything but dominant out of the gate up in Canada. We all know how that ended.
Luckily, Jurgen Klinsmann's team has a freebie tonight against Panama-- with two wins in as many tries, the Americans have already won Group A and punched their ticket to the knockout rounds. Will tonight be the night we see Alejandro Bedoya back in the fold? The Nantes attacker is the only player on the current roster, aside from Ingolstadt's Alfredo Morales, yet to make his first appearance in this Gold Cup.
Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley may be able to use a breather in this one, but Klinsmann should be wary about taking his foot all the way off the gas. A third dismal performance in a row will have this team firmly on the wrong foot heading into Saturday's Round of Sixteen, when the Haitis of the world will be long-gone in favor of punchier opponents.
Where do you want this team to be if and when Costa Rica comes calling?
In the run up to tonight's 9:30 p.m. ET kickoff, Here's what we've got for you:
- Stars and Stripes FC's Rob Usry gives his three things to watch, plus a recommended "experimental" Starting XI.
- U.S. Soccer runs through all the top stories.
- A primer on the recent history between the U.S. Men and Panama.
- Don't miss this: Sports Illustrated produced twenty-five different magazine covers for the Women's World Cup champs. Hey, even Jill Ellis got one!