U.S. puts home streak on line against Panama

Posted by Paul Carr, ESPN Stats & Information

The United States reaches the halfway point of the CONCACAF final round in World Cup qualifying Tuesday, hosting Panama in Seattle (10 p.m. ET, ESPN). Here are five notes to get you ready for the game.

•  The United States is 8-1-2 against Panama, with the sole loss coming exactly two years ago Tuesday in the Gold Cup group stage. The U.S. is 3-0-1 versus Panama in qualifying; all four games came in the 2006 World Cup cycle, including a 6-0 U.S. win at RFK Stadium, where Eddie Johnson became the only American ever to tally a hat trick as a substitute.

•  The United States is undefeated in 23 straight home World Cup qualifiers, last losing in 2001 (a 3-2 defeat to Honduras at RFK Stadium). Since then, the Americans have won 21 and drawn two home qualifiers, and both draws came after the U.S. had either advanced or clinched a World Cup berth.

•  Two starting U.S. midfielders from Tuesday’s game will miss the match, potentially leaving a creative void in the American attack. Graham Zusi is out after picking up his second yellow card in qualifying; the Sporting Kansas City midfielder shares the team lead with eight chances created in 2013, including assists on Jozy Altidore's two goals in the previous two games.

Jermaine Jones will sit out after suffering a concussion in the United States' 2-1 victory Jamaica on Friday. He’s created seven chances in 2013, third-most on the team, and his 10 tackles trail only DaMarcus Beasley (13).

•  Could Altidore score in a third straight match for the United States? He’s never done so at the international level, but he hadn’t scored in consecutive U.S. appearances since 2009. He did score in three straight games once for AZ Alkmaar this past European season.

Clint Dempsey didn’t score against Jamaica, but he still has nearly half (seven) of the team’s 15 goals this cycle. He also has seven goals in his last seven international games, and Dempsey leads the team with 15 shots in 2013, five more than any other player.

•  With seven points from its first four games, three of which were on the road, the United States has CONCACAF’s highest SPI odds to qualify for the World Cup at 96.4 percent. Mexico (92.8 percent) and Costa Rica (86.5 percent) are also in good shape with seven points each.

Panama is one point behind but has only 45.6 percent odds, because four of its final six games are on the road, against every team except last-place Jamaica. Sitting on four points, Honduras is right behind Panama at 44.0 percent. With two points from five matches, Jamaica’s hopes are nearly nonexistent at 1.1 percent.

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