July 25, 2015
by Michael Lewis
TARNISHED GOLD CUP
USA lose 3rd-place match in penalties to Panama for its 2nd worst finish in 13 Gold Cups
CHESTER, Pa. -- Six games, three wins, one loss and two draws.
|Clint Dempsey scored his tournament-best seventh goal for the USA.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Not exactly what you would expect from a CONCACAF power.
The United States completed one of its poorest showings at the CONCACAF Gold Cup, with a rather uninspiring shootout loss to Panama in the third-place match at PPL Park on Saturday.
It will go down officially as a tie because the teams played to a 1-1 deadlock after 120 minutes before Los Canaleros prevailed in penalty kicks, 3-2, before 12,598 fans.
Only one other finish was below this year's result, when the 2000 team was ousted in the quarterfinals via penalty kicks by Colombia.
In all other Gold Cup competitions, the Americans finished at least third place or higher, winning the tournament five times (second only to Mexico).
Goalkeeper Luis Meija made two saves in the tie-breaker, denying Michael Bradley and DaMarcus Beasley, playing in his final match for the national side.
Aron Johannsson, Clint Dempsey converted their shots for the USA while Fabian Johnson drilled his over the crossbar and Michael Bradley had his attempt stopped by Mejia.
Ramon Torres, Abidel Arroyo and Harold Cummings put theirs away for Panama, while Armando Cooper had his saved by Brad Guzan.
Panama forward Roberto Nurse scored the first goal, beating goalkeeper Brad Guzan from the right side of the penalty area in the 55th minute, slotting his shot into the lower left corner.
Dempsey, a second-half sub who came on for Chris Wondolowski in the 60th minute, equalized for the hosts nine minutes later. Another substitute on the hour, DeAndre Yedlin fed Dempsey from the left side and the Seattle Sounders strikers placed a sliding shot from about 12 yards past the keep for a 1-1 deadlock.
It was Dempsey's tournament-leading seventh goal.
The Panamanians pushed forward during the final minutes of regulation. Guzan denied a close-range header byu Nurse in the 81st minute and watched Blackburn drill a dangerous shot wide right five minutes later.
Guzan was forced into action in the second extratime when he slapped away a shot from the onrushing Nurse on the left side in the 108th minute. The USA managed to clear the ensuing corner kick.
Only three minutes later, Guzan produced some more heroics, denying Nurse on the right side to keep the score at 1-1.
The opening half hour really wasn't one to write home about. Both teams attacked but really could not put anything worthy on target.
Panama had the first opportunity in the 12th minute when Guzan was almost fooled by a bad hop from a right-sided free kick, but he managed to grab the ball.
Midfielder Fabian Johnson tried a shot from the left side in the 15th minute as his attempt went straight to Meija.
Three minutes later, Graham Zusi, who broke Panamanians' hearts by scoring a key goal in win that denied the national side a spot in a 2014 World Cup qualifying playoff, tried to lead Johnson with a pass into the penalty area but the ball got to Mejia first.
The first half was interrupted by a water break for both teams in the 27th minute.
Los Canaleros benefitted from the break much more than the Americans.
Armando Cooper swept past two USA defenders and Guzan down the left flank in the 37th minute before placing a shot that was headed toward the lower right of the net before former Red Bulls center back Tim Ream only a couple of yards away from the goal line.
During stoppage time, Rolando Blackburn shanked a close-range shot wide right.