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Mexico (2-3-5) finished fourth with 11 points, three ahead of Panama (1-4-5), which has never reached soccer’s top event. Before allowing the stoppage-time goals, Panama was even with El Tri on points and goal difference and would earned the playoff berth based on a 10-7 advantage in goals scored.

Having clinched its seventh straight berth last month, the U.S. was without many of its regulars because of either injuries or decisions to allow them to return to their clubs. Among the missing were Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Tim Howard, Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler.

In the absence of Dempsey and Howard, Jozy Altidore captained the national team for the first time.

“It was an opportunity for us to see some players stepping in,” Klinsmann said,

Panama got the early goal when Marcos Sanchez sent a layoff to the top of the penalty area, and Torres split the defenders and easily beat goalkeeper Brad Guzan with a one-timed shot to the corner.

Orozco scored his third international goal off a Davis corner kick. Sacha Kljestan was hauled down by Luis Henriquez right in front of the goal, allowing the ball to fall to Orozco. With his back toward the goal, Orozco lifted his left leg and made just enough contact to score from 6 yards.

Panama could have been awarded a penalty kick two minutes later, but Jamaican referee Courtney Campbell didn’t whistle Alejandro Bedoya for knocking over Alberto Quintero as he streaked into the penalty area. Two minutes later, Guzan got his left hand up to stop a point-blank shot by Torres.

Panama came back when Torres sent the ball down the right flank to Roberto Chen, who went to the endline and sent a low cross through the penalty area. Guzan slapped the ball with his right hand and the ball ricocheted to Tejada, who stepped in front of Kyle Beckerman and knocked it in.

But it wasn’t over. Edgar Castillo started the set-up to the tying goal with a pass to Davis, who crossed to Zusi, He climbed over Henriquez and his 8-yard header beat goalkeeper Jaime Penedo.

With Panama pressing to get the goal it needed to regain the lead, Terrence Boyd fed Johannsson for a 20-yard shot.

“They wouldn’t have done anything different if they were in our shoes,” midfielder Kyle Beckerman said. “They would have tried to beat us. A couple of their guys were asking us to take it easy on them, but it’s about competition. The USA is guaranteed to be in the World Cup, but who’s in that team, nobody knows, so we had to try and turn the result around so it looked good on us.”