Juan Agudelo celebrates Gold Cup with U.S. National Team
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Agudelo, USMNT host Panama in critical World Cup Qualifier (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Juan Agudelo and the U.S. Men’s National Team can take a giant step toward qualification for next summer’s FIFA World Cup when they host Panama on Friday night at Orlando City Stadium (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2, Univision, UDN).

The USMNT (2-3-3, 9 pts.) currently occupy fourth place in the six-team final round of qualifying, one point back of Panama (2-2-4, 10 pts.), who occupy the third and final automatic berth. Honduras (2-3-3, 9 pts.), meanwhile, have the same record as the U.S., but trail by a margin of eight on goal difference.

“The Hex,” as the final round of CONCACAF qualifying is known, will wrap up next Tuesday, October 10, when the Americans will visit Trinidad & Tobago (8 p.m. ET, beIN SPORTS, Universo).

The USMNT enter the final two match-days knowing that a pair of wins will almost assuredly see them through to the World Cup, while anything less could see them forced into a two-legged playoff with either Australia or Syria, or potentially even out of the World Cup altogether.

Agudelo, who has made 26 career appearances with the USMNT and was part of the squad that lifted the CONCACAF Gold Cup trophy this past summer, has never appeared in a World Cup Qualifier.

In total, four New England Revolution players will represent their countries during the international break, including Antonio Delamea, who was on the bench for Slovenia’s heartbreaking World Cup Qualifying loss to England on Thursday. Slovenia close out qualifying against Scotland on Sunday.

Je-Vaughn Watson will go in search of his 72nd cap with Jamaica when they visit Saudi Arabia for a friendly on Saturday, October 7, while Zach Herivaux will travel to Japan – the country of his birth – to represent Haiti in a friendly on October 10.