[PANAMA]Panama, which was within two minutes of advancing to the World Cup intercontinental playoffs and knocking Mexico out of the World Cup, has fired Coach Julio Dely Valdes and his twin brother and assistant coach, Jorge, following the Canaleros' 3-2 loss to the United States on two stoppage-time goals that knocked the Canaleros out of contention.
The move came after Panama's U-17s finished up play at the Under-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates. Jorge coaches the U-17s, the first Panamanian team to ever play in a FIFA world championship.
Julio and Jorge, who played briefly in MLS, and their late brother Armando are part of one of the great soccer-playing families of Concacaf.
Julio is known as an excellent tactician and got Panama farther than it has ever gotten in World Cup qualifying. He was named national team coach in 2010 and led Panama to third place at the 2011 Gold Cup and second place at the 2013 Gold Cup.
The runs included the first-ever victory over the USA in group play (2011) and two wins over Mexico (2013). The Canaleros were eventually eliminated by the USA both times.
"Julio Dely Valdes is the best coach we have ever had," said Panamanian soccer federation president Peter Chaluja, "and he deserves our thanks."
Chaluja left open the possibility that Jorge Dely Valdes could continue with the youth national teams.