US suffers first ever defeat in Gold Cup to Panama

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Panama surprised the United States with a 2-1 game in Tampa Saturday night.

It was the first victory for Panama, which led them to move to the Gold Cup quarterfinals. Panama had faced up to US up to nine times, and US had never lost a game in the Gold Cup, the championship games for Central and North America as well as the Caribbean.

Although the US team lost, it can still win a chance at the quarterfinals as long as they beat Guadeloupe in the final stage match in Kansas City this Tuesday.

Luis Tejada managed a rebound to complete a sequence begun by a free kick by Nelson Barahona, despite US goalkeeper Tim Howard lunging to keep Armando Cooper’s header from the net.

Meanwhile Gabriel Gomez managed to convert a penalty kick towards the later part of the game’s first half, with American Tim Ream’s foul setting it up.

Landon Donovan comments that sometimes, teams “just come out flat for whatever reason.” However, he added that it was not wise to do that when playing against a great team, especially at this level.

He also commented that some nights, coming out flat did not necessarily get “punished,” and that they learned an important lesson in the poor outcome of the game against Panama.

A score by Clarence Goodson in the sixty-eighth minute gave the Americans a ray of hope for a possible dramatic pickup. A few more opportunities came up for the US team, too.

However, Chris Wondolowski failed to score at a net that was wide open, while Jaime Penedo managed two out of the six saves he made to keep Panama in the lead.

Although Clarence Goodson made a good second-half strike to reduce the margin, apparently it was not good enough to keep US from losing.

This defeat was the second loss for the US team over their last 21 games in the Gold Cup. They had held a record of winning six games and having two draws in previous games versus Panama, with all their match-ups being either in the Gold Cup or in qualifying games for the World Cup.

Donovan adds that it was about time that a talented team like Panama managed to be victorious over the US team.

He also admitted that CONCACAF teams were definitely improving. “It’s a pretty good team we played against,” he said, adding that it was a disappointing defeat, but that it was over now. All they could do was look forward to Tuesday’s game, and make sure they win against Guadeloupe.

“We’ve got to win Tuesday,” he stressed, expressing confidence that they were still fine while emphasizing the importance of Tuesday’s game in determining where they would end up.

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