November 21 – The United States and Panama booked their slots in the 2023-24 Concacaf Nations League Final semi-finals. The US going through despite a 2-1 defeat to Trinidad and Tobago in the second leg of their League A quarterfinal at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
The wins not only qualify them for the CNL final four – the US is looking for a third successive Nations League win – but also sends both nations through to the 2024 Copa America to be played in the US next summer.
It wasn’t a straightforward qualification for the US who stumbled against a Trinidad team away from home against a line-up few star names but who have a habit of upsetting the US when they visit. Trinidad and Tobago beat the US in in World Cup qualifying for Russia 2018, famously keeping them out of the finals.
The US took a three-goal lead into the second leg but they had left it late to overcome a spirited Trinidad and Tobago resistance with three goals from Ricardo Pepi, Antonee Robinson and Giovanni Reyna on 82, 86 and 89 minutes in the Q2 Stadium in Austin.
In Port of Spain the US took the lead with Robinson scoring on 25 minutes. But with Sergino Dest sent off for picking up a pair of yellow cards in less than a minute at the end of the first half, the door was opened for a potential Trinidad comeback.
Down to 10 men, it took Trinidad just four minutes to level the score with Reon Moore levelling on 43 minutes.
The home side went two up on 57 minutes when Alvin Jones hammered a free kick past Matt Turner. The US then shored up their defense to see out the overall win 4-2 on aggregate.
Panama complete Cost Rica double
Having won the first leg 3-0 in Costa Rica, Panama delivered more of the same at home, hitting another three past their Central American rivals.
A rebuilding Costa Rica were hit hard and fast by Panama in the first leg who scored. through Michael Murillo on four minutes with Jose Fajardo doubling the lead in the 29thminute. Cecelio Waterman made it three on the hour and game over.
Panama made another fast start and had 1-0 lead in the 20th minute through Fajardo. Four minutes later Jose Rodriguez’s short rocketed in to make it 2-0.
When Rodriguez was brought down in the box Edgar Barcenas scored from the penalty spot to make it 3-0 just before half time.
Joel Campbell pulled one back from a curled free kick in 53 minutes but Panama shut up shop to take the tie 6-1.
The four CNL semi-finalists qualify automatically for the 2024 Copa America, while the two remaining spots will be decided by a play-in match between the losing quarterfinalists. The play-in match will be played in March 2024.
The semi-finals and final will be played in Arlington, Texas, in March 2024.
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