Jones, Ream, Zusi start at Panama as Arena makes changes
PANAMA CITY (AP) U.S. coach Bruce Arena made three changes to his starting lineup for Tuesday's World Cup qualifier at Panama, inserting defenders Tim Ream and Graham Zusi, and midfielder Jermaine Jones.
Midfielder Sebastian Lletget injured his left foot in Friday's 6-0 home win over Honduras and will be sidelined four to six months. Defender John Brooks left with a sinus infection and defender Geoff Cameron was substituted early in the second half.
Tim Howard was again in goal, with Zusi at right back, Omar Gonzalez and Ream in central defense and Jorge Villafana on the left.
Jones returned to the lineup after serving a one-game suspension for yellow-card accumulation and joined Michael Bradley in midfield along with 18-year-old Christian Pulisic and Darlington Nagbe. Jozy Altidore was paired in the attack with Clint Dempsey, who scored his second international hat trick Friday.
Arena, the U.S. coach from 1998-2006, was brought back in November after Jurgen Klinsmann was fired. The Americans had opened the final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean with a 2-1 home loss to Mexico and a 4-0 road defeat at Costa Rica.
Panama coach Hernan Dario Gomez made three changes from Friday's 1-0 loss at Trinidad and Tobago, starting midfielder Gabriel Gomez and forwards Gabriel Torres and Luis Tejada in place of Edgar Barcenas, Alberto Quintero and Amilcar Henriquez.
Jaime Peneda, who played for Arena with the LA Galaxy, remained in goal, with Adolfo Machado at right back, Felipe Baloy and Roman Torres in central defender and Luis Ovalle at left back. Gabriel Gomez joined a midfield that included Anibal Godoy, Arando Cooper and Alberto Quintero.
Mexico began the night leading the six-nation final round of the North and Central American region with 10 points, followed by Costa Rica with seven, Panama and Honduras with four each, and the U.S. and Trinidad with three apiece.
In earlier games, Mexico won 1-0 at Trinidad and Costa Rica rallied for a 1-1 tie at Honduras.
The top three nations qualify for next year's World Cup in Russia, and the No. 4 team advances to a playoff against Asia's fifth-place nation.