The United States Men’s National Team just won their first Gold Cup since 2007 after defeating Panama by a score of 1-0 thanks to Brek Shea‘s tap into an empty goal.
The game was slowly paced for the majority of the 90 minutes due to the United States’ passing game and Panama’s resistance to crosses and through balls. Both sides were mentally prepared and physically ready to put in work.
Stuart Holden had to exit early in the first half due to another knee injury with Mix Diskerud replacing him (who would have started this game if it were not for Holden’s experience). The Norwegian-born came in with a flurry of energy as he would pass the ball to his teammates from the ground and air and attacked the ball defensively as he would not let opponents with possession breathe.
Landon Donovan was fairly quiet throughout as the Panamanian defense read his game quite well. The only real chance he had was on Shea’s goal as before it was scored he completely whiffed the chance to hammer home from close. Regardless, he was still an influential member as he is the only US player to start all six games in the tournament.
The Central American nation proved to be quite a test even though they were destroyed on possession and did not have as many shots on goal as the Americans did. However, they did hold their ground defensively as they had to break up a countless number passes in their defensive third. Even though they lost, their heads should definitely be held up high after playing a tournament that allowed them to make history – they defeated Mexico for the first time in their history — and they did it twice.
The US defeated Panama back in the 2005 final so this one was important for their opponents as revenge would have been on their minds, but the US proved to be too strong in the end.
This victory was also sweet for coach Jurgen Klinsmann who was suspended for this one due to an anger tantrum he threw after a controversial no-call in the semi-final against Honduras. He watched this game from the press box and immediately appeared on the field after the final whistle.
After losing the last two Gold Cup finals to Mexico on home soil, bringing the trophy back home has to be a phenomenal feeling for the boys. With this success checked off their list, their next goal is to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup as qualifiers will end later on this year.