New York Red Bulls defender Michael Murillo has once again been called to the Panama national team. This time, it will be to begin their CONCACAF Nations League campaign.
— FEPAFUT (@fepafut) August 20, 2019
Panama will open up League A with two matches against surprise qualifying side, Bermuda. First Los Canaleros will travel to Bermuda on September 5th, before hosting them three days later.
After a disappointing showing at this past summer’s Gold Cup, losing to Jamaica in the quarterfinals, Panama look to get back on track. These Nations League matches will be crucial for Panama as 2022 World Cup qualifying begins in one year’s time.
At the moment, Panama sits in 7th place in CONCACAF (74th globally). They will need to make up six global spots to overtake El Salvador for 6th place in the region. The top six by June 2020 will automatically make the Hex – with three of the teams qualifying for the World Cup. The fourth place finisher will play the winner of the lower seed round. The lower seed round has 29 teams. It will be a daunting task to be the top team through that CONCACAF gauntlet.
Murillo has 35 caps with Panama in all competitions, scoring twice – both tallies against Martinique in 2016 and 2017. Murillo will not miss any time with the Red Bulls as the team will play on August 31st and September 15th.
Ex-RBNY player Fidel Escobar has been called by Panama as well. It will also be likely that another ex-player, Zeiko Lewis, will be added to the Bermuda squad for these matches too.
Photo by Bill Twomey Photography