It’s been a rough season on and off the field for Tampa Bay. There have been injury woes and other issues, with Greg Schiano’s job security called into question. The Bucs, however, appear to be improving. They jumped out to a 21-0 lead on the road against Seattle two weeks ago, but were unable to hang on. The Bucs jumped out 15-0 against Miami last week, and rallied back to win, 22-19.
Tampa Bay will be without its two leading rushers with Doug Martin and Mike James out for the year due to injuries. Rookie Mike Glennon will once again start at quarterback. Glennon has been up and down this season, flashing some potential at times. Tampa Bay will enter the game near the bottom of the league in passing yards, averaging just 188.7 yards per game.
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But it was an away draw, which was all the Americans needed to feel OK about their chances to make the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The Panamanians are one of the USMNT鈥檚 top rivals for a top-three spot in the CONCACAF Hexagonal, and they still need to come to the United States. If the USMNT beats Panama at home in October, they will have taken four points out of six off a team they鈥檙e competing with, which is good enough.
That鈥檚 not to say the USMNT is in excellent shape. Losses to Mexico and Costa Rica to kick off the final round of qualifying were alarming enough that U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati thought he had to make a managerial change to ensure results turned around instantly. They have, with a win over Honduras and a draw away to Los Canaleros, but the Americans aren鈥檛 done digging out of their hole.
Here鈥檚 what the USMNT is facing on their road to make the World Cup.
Garrett Celek Elite Jersey Over the five cycles that CONCACAF has used the Hexagonal World Cup qualifying format, the average third-place team has finished on 15.6 points. No third-place team has ever won more than 17 points. The USMNT currently has four points, so to reach that target of 17, they鈥檇 need to take 13 points from their remaining six matches.