Josiel Núñez shakes hands with American striker Jordan Morris during the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup
It’s the Copa Centroamericana, January 2017. Josiel Núñez is starting for Panama on the left side of midfield in an early group stage match against Nicaragua. Having watched from the bench two days previously as Panama drew 0-0 with Belize, Núñez, only 23, is ready to seize his moment.
Panama comes out of the gates firing. Up 1-0 already in the 12th minute, Núñez traps a pass at the top of the 18-yard box. But he takes a bad touch - a fatal bit of miscontrol - and it looks like the chance has gone. Núñez, though, keeps going. He cuts back, and the two defenders in front of him swivel their heads in unison. Trying to follow Núñez, one of them loses his footing, and suddenly the chance is on again. A foot tap to the right, then BANG! Núñez unleashes a line drive into the corner - his first-ever goal for Panama.
Núñez, now 25, has played 14 times for the Panamanian national team, although his strike against Nicaragua last year remains his only goal. Later in 2017, Núñez was named to Panama’s CONCACAF Gold Cup roster, which gave him the opportunity to show off his skills against the best countries in North and Central America. On July 8 in Nashville, Panama trusted Núñez to come on as a substitute as Panama preserved a 1-1 draw against the United States.
Núñez most recently played for Panama in a friendly on April 18, but he was not selected to the team’s 23-man World Cup roster. On the club side, he last featured for C.D. Árabe Unido and C.D. Universitario in the Panamanian first division, where he played in the CONCACAF Champions League against the best clubs in North and Central America.
Josiel Núñez joins Forward Madison FC for its inaugural USL League One season in 2019. Buy tickets to watch Josiel and Forward Madison here. Núñez's signing will be confirmed pending league and federation approval.