The USMNT Killer “B’s” claimed Gold Cup glory today in Chicago, beating Panama 1-0 on Brek Shea’s 70th minute goal. Substitute Shea checked into the match for Joe Corona in the 67th minute, so Jurgen Klinsmann’s deputies, Andreas Herzog and Martin Vasquez, looked pretty smart when Shea nudged Landon Donovan’s mishit shot over the line for the winner.
Panama made it tough every step of the way for the hotly favored Americans, willing to cede possession, but never losing their defensive shape. The U.S. suffered a potentially crippling blow when Stuart Holden went down holding his knee in the 18th minute. U.S. Soccer released a statement during the game saying that Holden has sprained his right knee, the same knee that cost Holden most of the last two years. Holden will be examined later to determine just how bad that knee is.
Klinsmann must have been frustrated from his box high up in Soldier Field. He surely would have preferred to be down on the sideline exhorting his team to play faster! faster!
Alejandro Bedoya was the only U.S. player to show any threat in the first half as the Americans searched in vain for a way through that resolute Panamanian defense. The U.S. failed to register a single shot on goal in the opening stanza.
The home team came out determined to up the pace in the second half, led by Holden’s replacement Mix Diskerud. The U.S. nearly got the breakthrough after Mix was fouled in the 47th minute. Donovan put a dangerous ball into the box, but Clarence Goodson couldn’t get his shot on target. Team captain DaMarcus Beasley’s good run down the left wing led to a perfect cross that Donovan missed badly on.
With Klinsmann helpless up in the box, Herzog and Vasquez turned to Shea and the Stoke City man was ready to play the super sub role. The goal came from a good cross in from Bedoya for Donovan, who may or may not have gotten a slight touch on it. Shea was there in any case, perfectly placed to bundle the ball over the line for the game’s only goal.
With 20 minutes to play Panama tried to reverse their game long tactics and go for goal, which naturally left some holes in their airtight defense. Eddie Johnson, who battled all day against Panama’s teak tough central defenders Roman Torres and Roberto Chen, missed a sitter on a perfect cross from Shea.
Klinsmann’s deputies took off Bedoya for Omar Gonzalez to counter Panama’s hit and hope strategy and the big center back won at least three important headers late, as the clock wound down and the U.S. celebration began.
The Gold Cup win puts the U.S. at least in a playoff with the 2015 Gold Cup winner for the 2017 Confederation Cup. If the Americans win in 2015, there will be no playoff.
If Holden’s injury turns out to be serious, it will be the only negative for the U.S. to take from the 2013 Gold Cup. Klinsmann’s handling of the Donovan situation and Donovan’s acceptance of that strategy was vindicated when Donovan was awarded the Golden Ball as the Gold Cup MVP. A rare case of both sides of a dispute being right.
The U.S. used this Gold Cup to build depth, and players have emerged that will challenge the “A” team for spots in September’s World Cup Qualifiers versus Costa Rica and Mexico. Players like Diskerud, Goodson, Orozco, Holden, if healthy, Corona, Diskerud and of course Donovan, have laid down their marker.
Next up is a friendly in Sarajevo versus Bosnia-Herzegovina where the USMNT will try to continue their longest ever 11 game win streak, while preparing for Costa Rica.
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 1 1
PAN 0 0 0
USA – Brek Shea (Alejandro Bedoya) 69th minute
USA: 1-Nick Rimando; 15-Michael Parkhurst, 21-Clarence Goodson, 25-Matt Besler, 7-DaMarcus Beasley (capt.); 14-Kyle Beckerman, 11-Stuart Holden (8-Mix Diskerud, 23); 20-Alejandro Bedoya (24-Omar Gonzalez, 89), 10-Landon Donovan, 6-Joe Corona (23-Brek Shea, 68); 26-Eddie Johnson
Subs Not Used: 2-Edgar Castillo, 4-Michael Orozco Fiscal, 12-Sean Johnson,13-Tony Beltran, 16-Jose Torres, 17-Will Bruin, 19-Chris Wondolowski, 22-Bill Hamid, 27-Alan Gordon
Head coach: Jurgen Klinsmann
PAN: 1-Jaime Penedo; 2-Leonel Parris, 4-Carlos Rodriguez, 5-Roman Torres (capt.), 6-Gabriel Gomez (16-Rolando Blackburn, 74), 7-Blas Perez, 8-Marcos Sanchez, 9-Gabriel Torres (18-Jairo Jimenez, 65), 19-Alberto Quintero, 20-Anibal Godoy, 23-Roberto Chen
Subs Not Used: 3-Harold Cummings, 10-Eybir Bonagas, 11-Cecilio Waterman, 12-Luis Mejia, 13-Jean Carlos Cedeno, 14-Juan Perez, 15-Alex Rodriguez, 17-Roderick Miller, 21-Richard Dixon
Head Coach: Julio Valdez
Stats Summary: USA / PAN
Shots: 11 / 5
Shots on Goal: 2 / 1
Saves: 1 / 2
Corner Kicks: 4 / 3
Fouls: 19 / 16
Offside: 0 / 1
USA – Alejandro Bedoya (caution) 63rd minute
USA – Eddie Johnson (caution) 90
USA – Brek Shea (caution) 90+4
PAN – Jairo Jimenez (caution) 90+4
Referee: Joel Aguilar (SLV)
Assistant Referee 1: Juan Francisco Zumba (SLV)
Assistant Referee 2: Ricardo Morgan (JAM)
Fourth Official: Enrico Wijngaarde (SUR)