Panama is an interesting team (on paper) because their World Cup tournament could go one of two ways. The first way is what most people are predicting: the oldest and arguably least talented squad in the tournament is going to finish last and will be lucky to score a goal. If they can secure a point, that would be something to build towards the future. The reason why most people think this will happen is because Panama is just happy to be at the tournament. Recently, they had a layover in New York and were given a hero’s welcome by fellow Panamanians. Making the World Cup is the victory. Nothing else matters now. Consequently, out of loyalty, Panama is bringing most of their golden generation as a reward for this country’s accomplishment. That’s a wonderful gesture, but most of these guys are old as shit.
The second way this tournament can go, is that they show up and play Panamanian lesser footy, which is to beat the living shit out of you and score on the counter. If—and that’s a big if—they go into each game thinking they can win, this team is good enough to take second in the group. First, some background information about the country.
Panama’s Origins: Central Panama was home to some of the first pottery-making in the Americas, dating to about 2500–1700 BC. No one truly knows the size of Pre-Columbian Panama, as the population around the time of European contact is estimated between 200,000 and 2 million people. The indigenous people of Panama lived by hunting, gathering edible plants & fruits, growing corn, cacao, and root crops. They lived in small huts made of palm leaves over a rounded branch structure, with hammocks hung between the interior walls.
Not surprising, once contact occurred, things went to shit for the Native Panamanians. First, they were part of Spain and were slave servants in the encomienda system. Then, they became part of the Gran Columbia project. While all this was happening, there were plans of making a canal to make trade easier. This eventually occurs in the 20th century when America sinks its fairly new imperialist claws into Panama. They haven’t let go since.
Now, outside of Mariano Rivera, Panama is known for a place where rich people create shell corporations—214,000, to be exact– in order to evade paying taxes and get away with it because fuck common people.
I just realized this post is going live on Sexy Friday. iAye Dios Mio! Lets lighten the mood a bit.
Panama is also known for Jordana Brewster
and Miami Dolphins fan, Alexis Texas
I’m not exactly sure what her vocation is. Maybe a plumber?
Basic Panama Lesser Footy Facts:
Nickname: The Red Wave, The Canal Men
FIFA rank: 56
Manager: Hernan Dario Gomez
How they got there:
Panama qualified for Russia at the expense of America, thanks to a phantom goal against Costa Rica.
Goalkeepers: Jose Calderon (Chorrillo FC), Jaime Penedo (Dinamo Bucharest), Alex Rodriguez (San Francisco FC)
Defenders: Felipe Baloy (CSD Municipal), Harold Cummings (San Jose Earthquakes), Eric Davis (DAC Dunajska Streda), Fidel Escobar (New York Red Bulls), Adolfo Machado (Houston Dynamo), Michael Murillo (New York Red Bulls), Luis Ovalle (CD Olimpia), Roman Torres (Seattle Sounders)
Midfielders: Edgar Barcenas (Cafetaleros de Tapachula), Armando Cooper (Club Universidad de Chile), Anibal Godoy (San Jose Earthquakes), Gabriel Gómez (Bucaramanga), Valentin Pimentel (Plaza Amador), Alberto Quintero (Universitario de Lima), Jose Luis Rodriguez (KAA Gent)
Forwards: Abdiel Arroyo (LD Alajuelense), Ismael Diaz (Deportivo La Coruna), Blas Perez (CSD Municipal), Luis Tejada (Sports Boys), Gabriel Torres (CD Huachipato)
Potential starting XI:
Their goalie, Penedo is 36. Baloy (37), Torres (32), Machado (33), Ovalle (29), make up the defense. Quintero (30), Godoy (28), Gomez (34), Barcenas (24) are the midfielders. Torres (29) and most likely Blas (37), are the strikers.
This team’s potential starting XI is old as shit, but incredibly scrappy. If these guys were white, the MAGA crowd would love these guys with the physical lesser footy they play. They’re a team of metaphorical Dustin Pedroias, Brad Marchands, Bill Laimbeers, Danny Woodheads and Wes Welkers. A lot of that has to do with the fact that most of these players play in, or used to play in the MLS, which is a physical league compared to most professional lesser footy leagues. As a result, they’re physical players. As an added bonus, I’m familiar with a lot of their players.
Former LA Galaxy keeper, Penedo, is a talented goalkeeper who has won multiple CONCACAF top goalie awards and will keep Panama in games. Roman Torres is deadly on set pieces, which will be Panama’s bread and butter on how to score. He and Baloy are incredibly physical, though a little slow. As a result, don’t be surprised if NY Red Bulls defender, Fidel Escobar, replaces Baloy in order to incorporate more speed into the lineup. Fidel Escobar may also be the name of the villain in the next Expendables movie. Aside from set pieces, Panama will be dangerous coming from the right wing, as Quintero and Murrillo run like the wind. Additionally, Murrillo has lots to play for, as there are mid level clubs in Europe interested in signing him.
As I already mentioned, Panama is either going to get curb stomped, or they’re going to make it out of the group stage. There is no between. Here’s how each scenario plays out.
Why they won’t make it out of the group stage:
Belgium is the worst team for Panama to open up against in their group. If this was 2014, when Belgium was entering as a favorite for the first time with their current core, I could see Panama stealing a point. However, this is their second world cup—and third straight major tournament—that the Waffles are one of the favourites to win. Belgium shouldn’t be consumed with nerves and should take care of business. Meanwhile, Panamanian players are celebrating like they have won the world cup and I question how serious they’re taking this opportunity. I can only assume that when they are not training, they are knee deep in poon. If Belgium gets a goal early on, this game could quickly turn ugly both on the scoreboard and with Panama melting down and getting red cards with shin breaking tackles. If that happens, Panama will unravel against England and will have nothing to play for when they meet Tunisia.
Why they’ll make it to the Round of 16:
In short, these guys are mother fuckers to play against and will frustrate the shit out of teams, leading to costly turnovers and Panama capitalizing on the mistakes. Panamanian players are—and have always been– dirty as a Ric Flair and know (and will use) every trick in the book. Time wasting? Here’s an unused sub running down the field to kick the ball into the stands. Diving? Dwayne Wade takes classes from Blas Perez. Fun fact: When Blas signed with the Whitecaps, season ticket holders began cancelling their tickets because he is such a piece of shit. The Caps didn’t make the playoffs that year and the organization had an existential crises. All their players are like that. Little kicks, nipple twisting, shoves, trash talking and leaving a foot to go for the bone? All there, and that’s not even against a rival team. This dirty play is likely going to get a young center back like England’s John Stones to lose his shit and result in him getting a red card from all the shit Panama’s forwards are doing to do to him. It’s what they do. Any young defender is going to be targeted from this old squad.
Playing a team that you know will leave you black and blue is a psychological advantage for Panama because most teams can’t handle the physicality. It’s why some international stars, or well-known players leave the MLS after a year, or don’t sign with an MLS squad at all. Oh, hi Jermaine Defoe, I didn’t see you there hiding in the corner. Recently, Belgium played and tied a scrappy Greece squad. If Panama can play their game and lose 1-0 to Belgium, or somehow miraculously tie the Waffles, that would be a win in their books and can give them momentum against England, who I think is psychologically soft and is ripe for an upset as they are young and pretty weak in every component, except for their strikers. The key for Panama is to not meltdown in the first game. If they can maintain their composure, seizing at least 4 points from England and Tunisia is a possibility. Another reason why Panama could make it to the round of 16 is their style of play.
Traditionally, CONCACAF/South American teams that are making their debut or haven’t played in a World Cup in a long time tend to play conservative lesser footy until it’s too late. Panama won’t have that problem as they play an ultra-conservative style of play. So, Panama should be in their element from the first game.
Finally, despite never participating at a World Cup, one advantage Panama has over a lot of teams is international experience. They have six players on the roster with more than 100 caps and almost all of their starters have played for Panama at least 80 times. That type of cohesion can make them very dangerous in the group stage as other teams won’t be as familiar playing with each other.
After Panama shocks the world and beats England 1-0, Panamanians will set their country ablaze, as if Henry Morgan were still alive. They’ll tie Tunisia and go through on points while Panama’s commentators bang each other on air after the final whistle in the Tunisia game. Panama will then lose in penalty kicks to Columbia in the round of 16.