CHICAGO – The United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) and Panama will fight for the 2013 Gold Cup Championship trophy on Sunday as well as half a ticket into the next FIFA Confederations Cup. This is not the final most people wanted to see; but it is the fairest final. These are the teams that have put out the best football throughout the competition.
But in spite of the great tournament Panama has done, the USMNT is still the heavy favorite to lift the trophy.
USMNT have made it to the final winning all games on the road to the final, outscoring their opposition 19-4 in those five games. It all started with a 6-1 win over Belize in the opening match, they then came from behind to beat Cuba 4-1, and closed out the group stage with a 1-0 win over Costa Rica. The quarterfinals USMNT continued the high scoring with a 5-1 win over El Salvador followed by a 3-1 win over Honduras in the semifinals.
During the semifinals win over Honduras with two minutes to go in the game center referee Walter Quesada ejected USMNT head coach Jurgan Klinsmann for a heavy protest on a “no-call” for a harsh sliding tackle on DaMarcus Beasley. Klinsmann will now have to serve a one game suspension and will not be available to be in the bench during the championship match in Solider Field in Chicago.
Panama has had its ups and downs on their road to the final, but definitely more ups than downs. They kicked off the tournament on a high note; defeating the always favorite Mexico 2-1, they then struggled to get last minute 1-0 victory over Martinique who was seen as the weakest team in the competition. The struggles continued in the last game of the group stage as they ended with a 0-0 draw against a weak Canada side. The draw did assure the Panamanians first place in group A. In the quarterfinal stage Panama picked up the pace again and got a 6-1 over Cuba, followed by another shocking but deserving 2-1 win over Mexico.
Panama will be able to play Sunday’s game with no pressure, they will want to cap off a magnificent tournament by lifting the championship trophy but will have nothing to lose. This has already been a historic participation for Panama in the Gold Cup by reaching the final and beating the Mexicans twice on their way there.