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Once a Goat: Roberto Nurse opens scoring account for Panama at Copa Centroamericana

He may have taken an unlikely path, but Nurse is getting a shot on the international stage.

Nurse (with a new 'do) celebrating his goal for Panama.
Nurse (with a new 'do) celebrating his goal for Panama.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Here's a blast from the past that you might have missed: former Chivas USA forward Roberto Nurse has been part of Panama's Copa Centroamericana team, during the tournament which is ongoing in the United States, and recently scored his first international goal for his national team.

Nurse was born and raised in Mexico, and spent all of his career in Mexico except for the brief stint with CUSA in 2008, but his father is Panamanian, and that helped pave the way for his selection to Hernan Dario Gomez's side this year. After making his debut in a friendly against Serbia in May, he got the nod for the Copa Centroamericana, and has played in both group stage games.

The first came against Costa Rica on Sunday, and Nurse came off the bench in the 27th minute. He scored what looked like an insurance goal, his first for Los Canaleros, in the 71st minute, to put Panama ahead 2-0, but Los Ticos came back with two late goals, courtesy of Johan Venegas and Celso Borges, to ultimately tie the game 2-2.

Here's video of his goal from Sunday:

On Wednesday, Panama beat Nicaragua 2-0, and Nurse got the start in the game, playing 59 minutes. Goals from FC Dallas striker Blas Perez and Roman Torres gave the Panamanians a victory.

The result is that Panama will play in the third place game against El Salvador on Saturday at the LA Coliseum. It is sandwiched in the middle of the tripleheader, with Honduras and Nicaragua contesting the fifth place game first, before Panama-El Salvador, and then the Copa Centroamericana final of Guatemala vs. Costa Rica. Heading into the game, Costa Rica appears to be heavy favorites to capture the tournament crown.

Nurse, who has settled at Liga Ascenso club Correcaminos (the team Chelís coached before joining Chivas USA), scored one goal for the Goats across all competitions, in the second leg of the 2008-09 CONCACAF Champions League preliminary round match against, coincidentally, Panamanian side Tauro FC. Here's (grainy) video of that goal:

So in the end, there is a Chivas USA connection to the 2014 Copa Centroamericana after all.

Nurse is 30, so he probably won't become a regular for the next several years, but he may see action here and there, especially if he can continue to make an impact. It's an unlikely story, but pretty cool to see.

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