Roman Torres will be joining Panama for two decisive World Cup qualifiers. The centerback’s call-up was officially announced on Wednesday, meaning he’ll be joining Los Canaleros for their matches on Oct. 5 (at the United States) and 10 (vs. Costa Rica). Neither game should interfere with the Sounders’ schedule.
This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as Torres has been a fixture on the backline, starting in all but one of Panama’s previous eight World Cup qualifiers.
Panama currently sits third in the CONCACAF standings, which would guarantee them a spot in their first-ever World Cup. They fell just short in 2014 when they blew a late lead at home against the United States in the final qualifying match. A win would have put them in a playoff, instead Mexico was able to leapfrog them.
Panama has their work cut out for them, though. They will visit the USA in the first game, someplace they’ve never won in World Cup qualifying. A loss in that game would leave them no better than fourth, which would put them in a playoff spot. Panama’s final qualifier is hardly a gimme, either. They’ll host Costa Rica, who while likely already qualified, has still been one of the best teams in CONCACAF through the last two cycles.
If Panama can’t win either of those games, they’ll be watching Honduras very closely. They, too, are a point behind Panama and will visit Costa Rica and host Mexico, which is pretty tough in its own right.