For the first time since 2007, the U.S. National Team can call themselves champions.
Sunday at Chicago’s Soldier Field, Brek Shea scored the second-half winner as the U.S. topped Panama, 1-0, in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final, giving the Americans their fifth Gold Cup title and first since lifting the trophy in 2007.
The U.S. won all six Gold Cup matches, rolling to the championship by outscoring the opposition 20-4. That included strong teams from Costa Rica, Honduras and Panama, in addition to Belize, Cuba and El Salvador.
Taking the field without Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who was suspended for the match after being sent off in the semifinal against Honduras, assistants Martin Vasquez, Andreas Herzog and Kasey Keller were called into duty early in the match when midfielder Stuart Holden was forced from the match with a knee injury.
They turned to Mix Diskerud and while he wouldn’t figure into the scoring, the 22-year-old who plays his club soccer at Rosenborg in Norway was efficient and effective in the middle of the park.
Playing against a Panama side that seemed intent on defending their way to the title, the U.S. finally broke through in the 69th minute. Mere seconds after Shea subbed into the match for Joe Corona, Alejandro Bedoya bent a ball in from the right side that landed at the feet of Landon Donovan behind the defense on the edge of the six-yard box. The cross just eluded Donovan’s reach and looked bound for the side-netting inside the far post, but Shea – the former FC Dallas midfielder now playing for Stoke City – made sure the ball would be scored, touching it into the net just ahead of his defender. It was his second goal of the tournament; the first also coming as a late substitute in a 1-0 Group Stage win over Costa Rica.
Sounders FC forward Eddie Johnson played the full 90 minutes for the second straight match, finishing the tournament with two goals and one assist in three appearances, totaling 210 minutes after joining the team just before the quarterfinal round.
LA Galaxy midfielder Landon Donovan was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player after posting five goals and seven assists while starting all six matches for the Americans.
The U.S. has now won a record 11 straight matches. They will return to World Cup qualifying in September against Costa Rica and Mexico. First, the team will play a friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina on August 14 in Sarajevo.