USA set to face Panama in Gold Cup final

USA set to face Panama in Gold Cup final

Sounders forward Eddie Johnson and the rest of the USMNT will square off with Panama in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final this afternoon.

U.S. vs. Panama
CONCACAF Gold Cup finals
Sunday, July 28, 2013; 1 pm PT; Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois
FOX and Univision (Spanish)

The U.S. National Team is on the cusp of its first championship since 2007, taking on Panama in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final on Sunday at Chicago’s Soldier Field.

The players are in place, Landon Donovan and Eddie Johnson playing their best soccer as they have rolled through El Salvador and Honduras to reach the final. However, the U.S. will go to battle without their general, as Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann is suspended for the match after being sent off late in the win over Honduras on Wednesday.

That will leave the head duties to the rest of his coaching staff, led by Martin Vasquez along with Andreas Herzog and Sounders FC legend and broadcast analyst Kasey Keller.

However, with the U.S. rolling through the Group Stage and knockout rounds by outscoring the opposition 19-4, they are teeming with confidence heading into the championship match.

“I think the U.S. has won their games in good style and has played good soccer and has put away teams they should put away,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said this week. “Sometimes that isn’t always the case, but they’ve done that in this tournament.”

The U.S. has already met Panama once this year in a dominating 2-0 performance for the Stars and Stripes at CenturyLink Field, moving them to 9-1-2 against Panama all-time. That record includes a win in the 2005 Gold Cup final.

In that match, Keller backstopped the U.S. to their third Gold Cup title in a shootout win at Giants Stadium.

This time around, they will look to Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando to shut out a Panama side that bested Mexico in the Group Stage, then again in the semifinals, scoring 2-1 victories in both matches.

FC Dallas forward Blas Perez has three goals, but the top scorer for Panama is forward Gabriel Torres with five goals. Defensively, they are highlighted by center back and captain Roman Torres and goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, who matched Keller’s shutout effort in the 2005 final until the match went to a shootout.

Donovan has been an absolute force in the Gold Cup with five goals and seven assists in the tournament. And after joining the team in the quarterfinals, Johnson already has two goals and one assist in just 120 minutes of action.

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