Fidel Escobar (pictured) appeared in three games for Panama during the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup. (Photo: AFP Services)
DAVENPORT, Florida – He’s only 22-years-old, but Panama defender Fidel Escobar already possesses the demeanor of veteran at the international level.
He has appeared in six of the Canaleros’ eight final-round qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and is with squad in Florida ahead of Friday’s matchday nine clash with the host United States at Orlando City Stadium.
“We are a step away from the dream that we all want, which is to go to the Russia World Cup,” said Escobar, who scored the only goal in the Hexagonal opener against Honduras last year. “We have to be calm and focused. We cannot get desperate.”
Third-place Panama (2W-4D-2L, 10 points) can book its ticket to Russia by defeating the fourth-place U.S. (2-3-3, 9) and Honduras (2-3-3, 9) losing at Costa Rica.
While a loss would not be fatal to the USA’s World Cup hopes (it would still have a chance to secure an intercontinental playoff berth), winning at home would somewhat ease the burden heading into an October 10 road encounter with last-place Trinidad & Tobago (1-0-7, 3).
Escobar is cognizant of that fact.
“They are going to come wanting to impose themselves,” the New York Red Bulls player finished. “For that reason, when we have the opportunity, we have to take advantage of the space that they are going to leave us.”
The last four meetings between Panama and the U.S. have ended in 1-1 draws.