With MLS on a two-week break for the group stage of the 2016 Copa America Centenario, the San Jose Earthquakes have enjoyed some well-deserved rest at a critical point in their season. Well, most of their players are enjoying a break.
Anibal Godoy and Alberto Quintero, mainstays in the Quakes starting eleven, are representing Panama in the Copa tournament, and on Monday, the pair helped Panama earn three critical points in Group D with a 2-1 victory against Bolivia.
Panama opened the scoring, as Quintero delivered a perfect pass to Blas Perez in the area, and the Vancouver Whitecaps forward lashed home a goal for a 1-0 lead. The score was the first ever for Panama in the history of the Copa America tournament.
Blas Perez turns home Alberto Quintero's cross to put Panama in front. #PANvBOL #MyCopaColors https://t.co/nWb7uWkB75— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 6, 2016
The game, which was played in Orlando, became a bit sloppy after the early minutes of the match, as heavy rains from a tropical storm flooded central Florida. Panama did well to protect their lead for the rest of the first half and well into the second half.
But Bolivia didn't give up, and on a free kick opportunity in the 54th minute, poorly cleared by the Panama defense, Juan Carlos Arce delivered the equalizer past former LA Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo.
Juan Carlos Arce sends a clean strike past Penedo to equalize for Bolivia. Game on! #PANvBOL #MyCopaColors https://t.co/5eIbkVn9QE— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 7, 2016
But Panama would not give up, and in the 88th minute, Perez struck again with a perfect finish on a perfect cross. It was a heart-breaker for Bolivia, given the valiant second half they had played, but it was a well deserved winner for Panama.
Blas Perez taps into an empty net to make it 2-1, Panama late on. Will that be the winner? #PANvBOL #MyCopaColors https://t.co/z3vg2fwXDc— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 7, 2016
The 2-1 victory will give Panama a big leg up in a very tough Group D, as Argentina and Chile, the two group favorites kicked off later the same evening at Levi's Stadium.
Can Panama upset the South American favorites and clinch a spot in the Copa quarterfinals? Will Godoy and Quintero continue to bring their Panamaniacs magic to the final two Group D games? For Earthquakes fans and Los Canaleros supporters, they can only hope.