Los Angeles Times

US team can boost World Cup hopes with victory over Panama

It may not look that way on a map, but the most direct route for the U.S. national team to reach Russia for next summer's World Cup is to go through Panama.

In fact, it may be the only way. Because if the U.S. doesn't beat Panama in Friday's qualifier at Orlando City Stadium (7:35 p.m. EDT, ESPN2, Univision), it could miss the World Cup for the first time since 1986.

"I don't need to lecture our players on the significance of the game," coach Bruce Arena said

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