US changes 7 starters in World Cup qualifier at Panama

Sports

PANAMA CITY, Panama (AP) — The United States changed seven starters for Sunday night’s World Cup qualifier against Panama, inserting forward Gyasi Zardes along with midfielders Kellyn Acosta, Sebastian Lletget and winger Tim Weah.

Right back Shaq Moore, central defender Mark McKenzie and left back George Bello also were in the lineup.

Returning from the lineup that started Thursday’s 2-0 win over Jamaica were goalkeeper Matt Turner, central defender Walker Zimmerman, midfielder Yunus Musah and winger Paul Arriola.

Zimmerman captained the U.S. for the third time. Moore and Weah made their first starts in a qualifier after making their debuts Thursday at Austin, Texas.

The U.S. began the night atop the North and Central American and Caribbean region with eight points, ahead of Mexico on goal difference. Panama had five points, tied with El Salvador and one behind Canada.

Acosta played his 19th consecutive national team match, the longest streak since 35 by Landon Donovan from 2001-03.

Turner’s 11 straight games in goal is the most since Brad Guzan in 2015 and four shy of the record set by Tony Meola from 1990-91.

Panama made two changes from the lineup that lost 1-0 at El Salvador on Thursday, inserting midfielder Cristian Martinez for Andiel Ayarza and forward Freddy Góndola for José Luis Rodríguez.

They were joined by goalkeeper Luis Mejía, right back Amir Murillo, central defenders Harold Cummings and Fidel Escobar, left back Éric Davis, midfielders Alberto Quintero and Édgar Bárcenas and forward Rolando Blackburn.

Mexican referee César Ramos also worked the U.S. qualifier at Panama four years ago and refereed three matches at the 2018 World Cup.

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