USA vs. Panama: Underrated Players to Watch for in 2013 Gold Cup Final

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IJuly 27, 2013

SANDY, UT - JULY 13: Joe Corona #6 of the United States takes the ball away from Cuba's Jorge Luis Corrales #13of Cuba during the first half of an CONCACAF Gold Cup match July 13, 2013 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
George Frey/Getty Images

There will be an abundance of stars on display this weekend at Soldier Field in Chicago when the United States and Panama square off in the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup final.

Elite goal scorers Landon Donovan and Chris Wondolowski will receive plenty of attention for the U.S., while Panama's dynamic duo of Gabriel Torres and Blas Perez are sure to dominate the conversation prior to kickoff.

But what about the impact players no one is talking about?

Below we'll take a closer look at a trio of underrated players worth watching in Sunday's Gold Cup final.


DaMarcus Beasley, United States

Named the captain ahead of the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, veteran winger DaMarcus Beasley has lived up to his status this July, starring in defense for the United States in four of five matches.

Beasley hasn't scored a goal for the U.S. since 2008, but his experience has been invaluable for Jurgen Klinsmann's squad. The 31-year-old has made well over 100 appearances for the senior national team since 2001, according to ESPN senior researcher Paul Carr, and has played club football in six different countries over the course of his career.

Beasley deserves tons of credit for successfully transitioning from winger to left back this summer. After all, the Americans have only conceded four goals through five matches, not allowing more than a single goal in either of the five victories. 

None of Beasley's stops or hustle plays are going to show up on the scoreboard, but U.S. supporters know just how critical those moments are to the final outcome.


Roman Torres, Panama

Veteran Panamanian defender Roman Torres isn't known for his goalscoring prowess, but the 27-year-old turned out to be the hero for Los Canaleros in Wednesday's 2-1 semifinal win over Mexico when he scored the match-winning goal on a set piece in the 61st minute.

Torres' strong finish sparked the following reaction from ESPN anchor Max Bretos on Twitter:

But Torres won't just be a threat around the penalty area in Sunday's final; he'll also be a key to Panama's stout defense.

Only Costa Rica (eliminated in the quarterfinals) has conceded fewer goals than Panama at the Gold Cup this summer, and Torres is a big reason for that, starting four of Panama's five matches at center back.

The Central Americans have let in just three goals in five matches, and with a big-time stopper like Torres making his presence felt at the back on Sunday, the Panama defense will look to record its third clean sheet of the tournament against the U.S.


Joe Corona, United States

One of only four Americans who have scored multiple goals at the 2013 Gold Cup, emerging midfielder Joe Corona will be a player to watch in Sunday's final.

The 23-year-old, who stars for Mexican club Tijuana when he's not competing for a role with the Stars and Stripes, has displayed an impressive nose for goal at the Gold Cup this summer, scoring against Cuba in the group stage and most recently against El Salvador in the quarterfinals.

What's more incredible is that Corona's next appearance will be just the 10th of his career for the United States senior national team. He debuted in May 2012.

To put Corona's potential in perspective, this is a player who recorded four goals in just four matches with the U.S. Under-23 squad in 2012. Klinsmann will hope the up-and-coming talent has a few more goals in him on Sunday.


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