PANAMA CITY - The United States Men’s National team had nothing to play for, they had already secured 1st place in the CONCACAF Hexagonal. Panama needed a win and hope that Costa Rica could beat Mexico in order to claim the 4th place playoff spot. And it all seemed that everything would work out in the favor of the Panamanians, but the Americans never gave up and saved Mexico from a huge embarrassment.
Panama took the lead through Gaby Torres in the first half when he found a loose ball at the top of the box and struck the ball with power to the bottom corner of the goal. Since all three games in CONCACAF were going on at the same time; they were now hoping that the Ticos could manage to defeat Mexico. And a Costa Rica goal came, but Mexico would quickly equalize still leaving Panama eliminated despite their lead.
In the second half Costa Rica had gone ahead of the Mexicans leaving the Panama in the 4th place spot at the moment. But a player of Mexican descent; Michael Orozco the same player who gave the USA their first win at the Estadio Azteca found the equalizing goal, a goal that would have Mexico in the playoff spot despite them losing.
All of Panama hoped and prayed, they knew that with the result in Costa Rica all they needed to do is find a goal to keep their World Cup hopes alive. Luis Tejada a player who plays for Veracruz of the Mexican league gave Panama that dream goal that would send them to a two-leg series against New Zealand and would completely eliminate Mexico in the 84th minute; just six minutes from the end.
But the “never say die” spirit of the Yankees came to the rescue of El Tri. Graham Zusi who also scored on Friday got his head onto a cross from the left side to tie the game. Not even a full 60 seconds later Aron Johanson hit a long range powerful shot into the lower corner of the goal to give the USA the win and the playoff ticket to Mexico despite their 2-1 loss to Costa Rica.
The USMNT confirmed they were the best team in the CONCACAF hexagonal finishing with 22 points out of 30.