June 11, 2011
By Michael Lewis
Panama scores 2-1 upset over U.S.
TAMPA -- Panama withstood a second-half charge and recorded the first upset of the Gold Cup, a stunning 2-1 victory over the favored United States in Group C action at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday night.
|Clarence Goodson scored the only goal for the U.S. on a diving header.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
It was the first time the Americans had lost a first-round match in the 20-year history of the competition. They entered the game with a 24-0-2 record.
Panama also had never beaten the U.S. in eight previous tries (0-6-2), while being outscored 18-4.
The win meant Panama (2-0-0, six points) qualified for the quarterfinals, while the U.S. (1-1-0, three) will have to wait until Tuesday to move on, when it plays Guadeloupe at Livestrong Park in Kansas City, Kan.
Panama meets Canada (1-1-0, three), 1-0 winners over Guadeloupe (0-2-0, none) in the first game of Tuesday's doubleheader, while the U.S. faces the Caribbean side.
The Panamanians drew first blood in the 19th minute, taking advantage of some shoddy American defending in front of 27,731 spectators.
Gabriel Gomez played a ball in from the left side and Armando Cooper sent a diving header off a Gabriel Gomez left-wing feed that goalkeeper Tim Howard knocked away. During a scramble for the loose ball, U.S. central defender Clarence Goodson appeared to get a foot on the ball as it went into the net. Luis Tejada was credited with the goal, his seventh in Gold Cup competition.
Panama was far from finished, as the Central Americans doubled their lead in the 36th minute on Gomez' penalty kick.
U.S. central defender Tim Ream tripped Blas Perez at the right edge of the penalty area and referee Marco Rodriguez of Mexico immediately pointed toward the penalty spot. Gomez fired his attempt into the upper left corner for a 2-0 advantage for the visitors.
The Americans, who were booed as they left the field at halftime, cut the deficit to 2-1 in the 68th minute. Landon Donovan sent a free kick in from the left side that Michael Bradley headed to a diving Goodson, who headed it home from four yards.
The desperate U.S. pulled Goodson for Chris Wondolowski, Major League Soccer's 2010 Golden Boot winner, as the hosts moved to a three-man backline in an attempt to equalize. The move almost paid off in the 81st minute as Wondolowski, off a Jozy Altidore feed, missed an open goal from point-blank range.
The Americans almost equalized in the 90th minute as Bradley fired a 16-yard shot that sailed just wide right of the net.
It wasn't surprising that Panama took the lead, because they had the U.S. on their heels in the opening five minutes and almost had a close encounter with Howard, but Tejada could not meet up with a left-wing cross in the fourth minute.
U.S. midfielder Clint Dempsey attempted the first real chance as he fired a 16-yard volley that barely missed the the near left post in the eighth minute.
The goal woke up the Americans, who started to pressure Panama, not unlike how they pursued Canada in the early stages of their 2-0 victory on Tuesday.
After Panama's first goal, Donovan set up Dempsey on a free kick, but the midfielder's shot went directly to goalkeeper Jaime Penedo in the 26th minute.
Two minutes later a Donovan corner kick found Goodson, but his header sailed wide right.
In the 30th minute, Donovan sent a 24-yard attempt toward net that Penedo caught.
After Panama's second goal, however, the U.S. played as though they were trying to erase the two-goal deficit with one kick as players rushed their passes and grew more frustrated as the half wore on.
In fact, the Panamanians almost struck again in the 42nd minute as Tejada worked himself free and kicked a six-yard shot from the left side wide right.
U.S. second-half sub Alejandro Bedoya claimed he was tripped in the penalty area by Penedo in the 64th minute, but Rodriguez did not think so, giving the midfielder a yellow card for diving while trying to draw a penalty.