USMNT Report: Problems Arrive for Final Act

Panama and Klinsmann suspension pose issues for the USMNT in the final
by Herb Scribner   |   Sunday, July 28, 2013

USMNT Report - coverage of the United States Men's National Team

A final act warrants a final challenge.

And the United States Men’s National Team’s dream run through the Gold Cup is no exception, as the team will face off with Panama in the tournament’s final at Soldier Field in Chicago later today.

But it won’t be without cause for concern, as the USA will miss manager Jurgen Klinsmann, who has been suspended after his ejection in the semifinal, and will be facing a Panama side that’s coming off an exceptional 2-1 win over Mexico.

THE ROAD TO NOW: The United States is currently on a 10-game winning streak, the longest in team history. The USA’s latest win was a 3-1 shelling over Honduras in Arlington, Texas, in the Gold Cup semifinal. Landon Donovan found success again, netting 2 goals and earning an assist in the win.

PRE-GAME CHATTER: The USMNT all reacted to Klinsmann being suspended for today’s match. Donovan said the team is disappointed that his coach won’t be there on the sideline.

DaMarcus Beasley, who will again captain the United States squad as he’s done all tournament, said it’s an honor to lead the squad into the final, and that hopefully the team will capture the cup.

ANALYSIS: The United States’ cruise through the Gold Cup has made the tournament fly by. Wins and success have come easily for the US, save for a 1-0 drubbing over Costa Rica in the group phase.

Today’s fixture, though, will test the United States like nothing else has in the Gold Cup this year. In search of its 5th Gold Cup trophy, the USA will go head-to-head with Panama, a team the Americans have gone 8-1-1 against on home soil and 9-1-2 all-time.

The Panamanians are on a dream run of their own, though. They started the tournament off with a 1-0 win over Mexico, and similarly earned a 2-1 win over El Tri in the semifinal to reach today’s game.

Panama bested the recent champions and the USA’s top regional rival, and did so in high fashion. Los Canaleros played aggressively and at a high pace, out-running the stronger and more fit Mexican side. Towards the later stages of the semifinal, El Tri was gassed and could barely make a surge at goal. Panama stayed strong and didn’t surrender anything overly dangerous.

That’s what the USA will have to contend with, which could be an issue seeing as the Americans have often dropped off in pace in the 2nd half. In its own semifinal victory, the USMNT became stale and flat after Donovan and Kyle Beckerman were substituted off, and Honduras easily won the rest of the game in terms of chances and possession.

Panama is a better side than Honduras, especially in this tournament, and will gobble up those chances without wait. Blas Perez has been on fire for Panama and for club side FC Dallas this season, and he won’t hesitate to bury the United States when offered easy chances.

The USA will also be without Klinsmann, who has guided the team from the sidelines to a notable 11-2-2 record in 2013. The former German international will likely offer his wisdom before the game kicks off, and the USA assistant coaches, Andreas Herzog and Martin Vasquez, will be fine to lead the side. But it would be nice for Klinsmann to be with his players if they can win the trophy.

With or without Klinsmann, the Americans are in store for a challenging final act of its exceptional performance. The stage is set for a sensational final, as both Panama and the US have cooked up impressive paths to the ending act. But only one can end in glory.

NEXT UP: July 28 – Gold Cup: United States vs. Panama, Soldier Field, Chicago. 4 p.m. EST, FOX, Univsion.


UMass Amherst
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FC Barcelona
SN managing editor and award-winning journalist, Herb has always been known as "The Soccer Guy" wherever he goes. He's a leftback in most outdoor and indoor leagues. He also writes for Deseret News National.