Wednesday July 24, 2013. Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET.
Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Mexico and Panama are ready to face off for the second time in the 2013 Gold Cup. Los Canaleros have already defeated El Tri 2-1 in the group stage, and now they will seek to grab two victories in a row.
For Jose Manuel de la Torre, this is a key match as he has had a winding road this year. The performance of this team, as well as the first-choice one, has been far from impressive. The lack of goals and an uncertain strategy have been the main concerns.
"Chepo" needs not only the ticket to the final game, but also the tournament's trophy to get some peace of mind for fans and media.
Where to watch
El Tri finished second in Group A, after losing to Panama and defeating Canada and Martinique. Six points, six goals for and three goals against were enough to send Mexico to the knockout stage.
In the quarterfinals, Mexico faced Trinidad and Tobago. After 84 minutes, Raul Jimenez finally scored for "Los Verdes", which meant the third straight win for the team.
So far, Marco Fabian is the top scorer with three goals. Mexico has never won the Gold Cup when qualifying in second place.
For the first time in history, Panama defeated Mexico. In the opening game of the Gold Cup, Gabriel Torres scored twice for Los Canaleros. Marco Fabian also grabbed a goal.
After a superb performance against El Tri, Panama barely defeated Martinique, with a penalty kick at the 85th minute. In the last group stage match, Los Canaleros finished in a scoreless draw with Canada.
Panama grabbed the top spot of Group A, the second time they have done so in the Gold Cup—the other one in 2011.
In the knockout stage, they dominated Cuba 6-1 to secure their place in the quarterfinals. Also, this team has not allowed more than one goal in their last eight Gold Cup games.
Jorge Enriquez missed the games against Martinique and Trinidad and Tobago due to a muscle injury. However, MedioTiempo.com reports that "Chaton" may be considered for the semifinal.
Carlos Peña has replaced Enriquez. The Leon midfielder is one of the few players that takes his chances from outside the box and that cuts in regularly.
Jose Manuel de la Torre will certainly relay on Miguel Layun to take over the right wing. The American footballer did not appear in the group stage match against Panama, so he will be a new and valuable asset for El Tri, as he has been one of the most unbalancing Mexicans so far.
Javier Orozco has been a good sub. Rafael Marquez Lugo has not been dangerous and "Chuletita" has given the team better options in the attacking zone. He could be a good replacement for Marquez if “Chepo” decides to take him out.
Statistics-wise, Marco Fabian is the player that has more shots on goal to his count, with 21. El Tri sits second on shots on goal, with 61. Miguel Layun has more assists than any of his teammates, with two.
Mexico has committed more fouls than any other squad, 65, eight of those by Marco Fabian.
Possible starting XI: Jonathan Orozco; Joel Huiqui, Juan Valenzuela, Adrian Aldrete, Alejandro Castro; Carlos Peña, Efrain Velarde, Miguel Layun, Marco Fabian; Rafael Marquez Lugo, Raul Jimenez.
Los Canaleros come to this game with no injuries or suspensions. The team has nine goals to its count so far, and with the help of Blas Perez and Gabriel Torres, they have become one of the most successful duos of the tournament with seven goals.
Jaime Penedo has had a great performance too. He has only received two goals. The Panamanian defense is one of the strongest of the tournament; only Mexico and Cuba have been able to score against them.
Statistics-wise, Panama has 50 shots on goal, 16 of them from Gabriel Torres and 11 from Blas Perez.
It has committed less fouls than any other team in the tournament with 42, and is a side that has received more fouls with 77.
Possible starting XI: Jaime Penedo; Roman Torres, Carlos Rodriguez, Leonel Parris, Alex Rodriguez; Gabriel Gomez, Anibal Sanchez, Alberto Quintero, Anibal Godoy; Blas Perez and Gabriel Torres.
The striker has been instrumental in El Tri's attack. Since Rafael Marquez Lugo has not been able to score so far, Jimenez has taken up the responsibility wisely.
He has scored twice so far. His goal against Trinidad and Tobago secured Mexico a place in the semifinals.
Jimenez is the only player from the first team that has played in this tournament. Ever since the 2012 Olympic Games, Raul has proved that his speed, ball possession and strength are his most valuable assets.
Panama must thank Gabriel Torres. This 24-year-old has scored five goals out of nine that Los Canaleros have so far.
Torres plays in Zamora FC, a Venezuelan club. He started his professional career with Chepo FC of the Panamanian League.
"El Fantasmita" (the little ghost) is one of the strongest and fastest players on the team. He has a gifted right-foot shot and unbalances the rival's defense like few others can.
Which team will advance to the final match?
This may be the perfect game for Mexico to recover its confidence. Panama comes in good spirits after beating Cuba 6-1. However, El Tri is a far more experienced squad in this sort of game.