The United States defeated Panama 1-0 in the Gold Cup final at Soldier Field. The Americans extended their record winning streak to 11 games and they did it Sunday with coach Jurgen Klinsmann confined to a skybox thanks to a suspension from CONCACAF. (Said skybox might have included a trap door.)
Although it wasn’t as memorable as Benny Feilhaber’s golazo vs. Mexico in the 2007 Gold Cup final at Soldier Field, Brek Shea’s tap-in from close range was enough to give the Americans their first tournament win in six years. Credit Panama for drawing up a defensive gameplan that made the U.S. work for it, but most of the second half it felt like only a matter of time before a breakthrough. The U.S. will now face the 2015 Gold Cup winner for a place in the 2017 Confederations Cup.
Stuart Holden’s first-half knee injury puts a damper on the afternoon, but most of the postgame talk will focus on whether or not Klinsmann’s team has turned a corner now that they’ve won a trophy on his watch. The U.S. looked excellent for the bulk of the tournament, aside from a sluggish game vs. Costa Rica and the first-half Sunday against Panama. The Americans outscored opponents 20-4 and finally showed more than just flashes of the attack-first, free-flowing soccer Klinsmann promised when he was hired in 2011 to replace Bob Bradley.
Bear in mind this was a “B-Team” U.S. lineup with DaMarcus Beasley, Landon Donovan and Matt Besler likely to start against Costa Rica in a World Cup qualifier in September. Donovan deservedly took home the tournament Golden Ball honors. If nothing else, the U.S. has a lot more depth than previously thought.
Teddy Roosevelt would be so proud.
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Related: Stuart Holden Suffers Knee Injury in 1st Half of Gold Cup Final vs. Panama [GIFs]
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