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July 28, 2013
Gold Cup title has U.S. team confident

By Kathryn Knapp
Chicagoland Soccer News Contributing Editor

CHICAGO – The last time the U.S. Men won the CONCACAF Gold Cup, they topped Mexico 2-1 at Soldier Field in 2007. With a 1-0 win over Panama at the same stadium on Sunday, it’s got the team thinking about bigger and better things, such as moving on to Brazil for next year’s World Cup.

“It’s been a great tournament. It’s been a long month, U.S. Captain DaMarcus Beasley said. “I told the boys this is what it comes down to. As footballers, it comes down to winning championships. This is a young group, a new and inexperienced group. But it was a great group. We really came together and it shows.”

A 68th minute goal, just seconds after Brek Shea entered the match, proved to be the winning goal. It marked the second time of the tournament that Shea came off the bench and found the back of the net within minutes. Shea made scored his first international goal July 16th vs. Costa Rica five minutes after entering as a sub in the 77nd minute.

“When you look at this tournament, you can’t say that one player had a bad performance,” Beasley said. “Someone came out. Someone came in. And they made it happen.”

The U.S. Men cruised through the Gold Cup, outscoring opponents 20-4. Landon Donovan and Chris Wondolowski led the attack, with five goals each. Shea, Eddie Johnson and Joe Corona each recorded two, while Stuart Holden, Alejandro Bedoya, Clarence Goodson and Mix Diskerud each had one. Panama scored the second most goals in the tournament with 11.

Defensively the team stood strong, allowing four goals and posting two shutouts. Sunday afternoon U.S. goalkeeper Nick Rimando didn’t have too much work to do, as Panama registered 0 shots on goal.

“It definitely wasn’t my busiest game,” Rimando said. “My defense was strong in front of me. They were sharp and organized.”

With the win, the U.S. National Team improves its 2013 record to 12-2-2, including an 11-game winning streak. The Americans have a break before the World Cup Qualifiers begin, with the first game September 6 at Costa Rica. The veteran players are happy with the progress the team has made.

“The older I get the thing that matters is winning,” Donovan said. “You look around and see the young guys celebrating a championship… That’s what makes me happy. This is not the end. It’s the end of the tournament. But hopefully it’s just the beginning for a lot of us.”

Beasley agreed saying the players are definitely on the right track.

“Winning 11 games internationally is big,” Beasley said. “You want to start peaking now. You want to head into the final round of qualifying and have the confidence. We are confident.”

When asked what was different about this win vs. the Gold Cup win in 2007, Beasley just smiled and said, “I’m captain this time. This is where I started my professional career. It [The Chicago Fire] was my first real club. To win it again here is a special moment. I’m honored to be captain of this team.”

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