Team USA tops Panama 1-0 for 5th Gold Cup
BY KALYN KAHLER firstname.lastname@example.org July 28, 2013 9:09PM
Updated: July 28, 2013 10:24PM
Jurgen Klinsmann won his first CONCACAF Gold Cup final as coach of U.S. Soccer, except he wasn’t at his usual place on the sidelines. Klinsmann watched from a luxury suite above Soldier Field as his team defeated Panama 1-0 for Team USA’s fifth Gold Cup.
Klinsmann was suspended by CONCACAF after his ejection in the 87th minute of the semifinal victory against Honduras. Assistant coach Andreas Herzog took over in the final.
The victory extended Team USA’s winning streak in international competition to a team-record 11 and was the second time that the Americans finished the tournament with a perfect mark.
Playing in front of a Pro-USA crowd of 57,920, the Americans dominated possession in the first half, but neither side put together any clear scoring chances.
Midfielder Alejandro Bedoya had the best chance in the first half. He cut in on the right and fired a shot that was blocked in the 44th minute.
Panama didn’t allow Team USA much space to play its game and played tight, compact defense that successfully held the victors to two shots on goal in the first half.
“It was very clear early on that their intention was to close the space to myself and Eddie [Johnson] and they did a good job of that,” Gold Cup MVP Landon Donovan said. “As time wore on we broke them down.”
That breakthrough came in the second half with a goal by midfielder Brek Shea in the 68th minute.
Just 42 seconds after subbing in for Joe Corona, Shea easily tapped in a ball sent his way by Bedoya.
Donovan contributed on the tricky play, taking “a mighty swing” at the ball but whiffing, throwing off the goalkeeper.
“It looked like a fake shot I guess,” Shea said. “But [Donovan] missed it and took the goalie with him and whether it was going in or not, I was there to just put it away.”
Shea’s game-winner was his second deciding goal of the tournament. Shea also netted the team’s only goal against Costa Rica five minutes after subbing into the game.
“A guy like Brek, who is unpredictable for himself and the opponent, it’s the card that you want to play,” Klinsmann said, on the decision to bring Shea on as substitute. “That element with Brek coming in and taking people on and having a surprising element in this game, every opponent would fear that.”
Team USA called on another sub, midfielder Mix Diskerud, when Stuart Holden left the game with an injury to his right knee in the 23rd minute.
“Our subs this entire tournament were fantastic,” Donovan said. “Every time someone got called on they made a difference in the game.”
Klinsmann said that this victory and deep roster of players who have proved themselves on an international level bodes well for the upcoming World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica on Sept. 6.
“This Gold Cup shows us we have a lot of players ready for the next level,” he said.