USA vs. Panama: Americans Will Cap Memorable Gold Cup Run with Win in Final

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent IJuly 25, 2013

PORTLAND, OR - JULY 09:  Landon Donovan #10 of the United States waves to the crowd against Belize during the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup on July 9, 2013 at Jeld-Wen Field in Portland, Oregon.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

The United States has been outscored 9-2 over the previous two Gold Cup finals, but the Americans are set to turn the tide this weekend in Chicago.

Soldier Field is where the Stars and Stripes' six-year CONCACAF Gold Cup drought will come to an end. The U.S. will battle Panama in the championship showdown, a rematch of the 2005 final, which the U.S. won on penalties. 

While Panama has yet to be beaten, the Americans are playing dominant football and their No. 1 nemesis is now out of the picture. Two-time reigning champion Mexico was eliminated by Panama in the semifinals, setting up the first Gold Cup final not pitting Mexico versus the U.S. since that 2005 classic.

Still, it likely wouldn't matter which nation the U.S. had to face off against this weekend. 

After all, no Gold Cup team has looked as consistent and strong as the U.S. to this point. Jurgen Klinsmann's men have won all five of their matches, outscoring their opponents 19-4 over that time.

While Panama has been just as explosive as the U.S. in the knockout stage, the Americans have managed a goal in every Gold Cup match this July, scoring at least three goals in four of the five. 

The reemergence of veteran forward Landon Donovan has been huge for the Americans. Currently the U.S.'s all-time leading goalscorer and assist man, the 31-year-old has poured in a tournament-leading five goals this summer, including two in Wednesday's 3-1 win over Honduras in the semifinals.

But Donovan isn't the only veteran playing unbelievable football this summer. Chris Wondolowski also has five goals in Gold Cup play in 2013, netting a hat trick in the U.S.'s group-opening win over Belize.

The 30-year-old would score two more in the Americans' route of Cuba and remains a hot option for Klinsmann this weekend.

DaMarcus Beasley has also been providing a huge lift for his country this July, starring in defense in four of the five Gold Cup matches, including each of the previous three. The 31-year-old was named captain of the squad prior to the start of the tournament, and has shown off both his leadership skills as well as his versatility over the past two-plus weeks.

The bottom line is that Panama hasn't yet faced an attack as potent as this U.S. one.

In the quarterfinals, the Americans poured in five goals against an El Salvador squad that had surrendered just three through the entire group stage. In the semifinals, the U.S. netted three goals against Honduras, who had conceded just two total in its previous four Gold Cup matches.

Defensively, the U.S. has been just as stout, with no team scoring more than one goal against it at this year's tournament.

With Donovan and Wondolowski bearing down on Panama's defense and Beasley and company limiting the Central Americans' opportunities at the back, the U.S. should cruise to its fifth Gold Cup title in front of a sea of supporters in Chicago on Sunday.  


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