FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (June 16, 2007) — The U.S. Men’s National Team moved into the semifinals of the 2007 Gold Cup by overmatching Panama 2-1 before 22,412 in Foxborough, Mass. Landon Donovan converted a penalty in the 60th minute and Carlos Bocanegra doubled the lead two minutes later to move the U.S. into the final four of the tournament for the eighth time in nine overall Gold Cups.
“It’s a good win for us,” said U.S. head coach Bradley, who improves to 8-0-1 since taking the helm. “Going into the match, we felt that Panama had an excellent team and had played very well in group play. We were pleased with our play. We had good chances in the first half, and were disappointed not to be up at halftime, but I think the mentality was to keep going and not lose sight of what we were doing well. We knew the chances would continue to come.”
With the win, the U.S. improved to 11-4-4 lifetime in the knockout phase of the tournament. The team moves on to face Canada on June 21 at Soldier Field in Chicago. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. CT, and the match will be broadcast live on Fox Soccer Channel and TeleFutura. Canada advanced earlier in the day after defeating Guatemala, 3-0, in the first match of a triple-header.
With the temperature a balmy 81 degrees, the U.S. began applying heavy pressure all over the field from the opening whistle. Their tenacity nearly paid off just four minutes in when Landon Donovan emerged from a scrum in the box with the ball at his feet and poked a shot that goalkeeper Jaime Penedo did well to deflect wide
Penedo, who had a spectacular performance against the U.S. in the 2005 Gold Cup final, once again proved the savior for the Panamanians in the first half, making several sparkling saves to keep the match level going into the intermission.
Throughout the first half, the U.S. was able to create opportunities by combining through the center of the park as well as finding Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley with space out on the wings. Twice the U.S. struck the goalpost, both on efforts by Taylor Twellman. The striker nicked the outside of the right post in the ninth minute after getting on the end of a Clint Dempsey knockdown, then headed it off the top of the crossbar near the half hour mark.
The USA’s best chance in the opening stanza came off a lightning quick counter attack that began from a Panama corner that Frankie Hejduk headed clear. Beasley picked up the loose ball, and picked out a streaking Donovan just past the midfield stripe, sending the speedy midfielder in on goal with a defender in hot pursuit. He elected to try and round Penedo and catch him off balance, only to see the ‘keeper recover in time to make a diving save.
Panama managed their best opportunity in the 32nd minute, striker Blas Perez receiving a pass from Ricardo Phillips at the top of the area and spinning towards the goal. He found enough space past Bocanegra to snap off a shot which went by both Tim Howard and the far right post.
The second half began with Panama beginning to match some of the intensity of the U.S. team, creating end-to-end action. They nearly grabbed the lead in the 48th minute, Perez once again on the receiving end of a pass from Philips, this time a curling ball played behind the U.S. backline. Howard was quick off his line to close the angle, kick saving the first-time effort from 12 yards out.
The teams traded opportunities through the first 15 minutes, Donovan finally delivering the U.S a deserved lead from the penalty spot right on the hour mark. Having been pulled down in the box by Carlos Rivera after Dempsey played him clear into the area, he calmly waited for Penedo to commit before sending a low drive to the right side of the goal.
The goal was Donovan’s 10th career strike in Gold Cup play, moving him into first place on the USA’s all-time list and only two shy of the tournament record held by Mexican Luis Roberto Alves. The 32nd goal of his international career moves him within two strikes of the USA record held by Eric Wynalda.
It took only two minutes for the USA to double the lead, this time off the head of team captain Carlos Bocanegra. With the U.S. earning a free kick just outside the area on the right side, Beasley whipped a perfectly curled cross into the six-yard box. Bocanegra slipped his mark and hammered a header past a helpless Penedo, getting his third career goal in the tournament and seventh in 47 international appearances.
Panama’s hopes of advancing took another blow in the 76th minute when defender Manuel Torres was sent off for picking up his second caution of the match. The U.S. could easily have made it 3-0 in the 82nd minute after Dempsey found himself alone 10 yards out thanks to a delivery from Donovan, but the striker took too long to choose an option and saw the ball poked away by Perez.
The wasted chance nearly proved costly when Blas Perez cut the lead in half two minutes later, unleashing a wicked strike from just inside the area. The goal ended a 254-minute shutout streak for the U.S. in the tournament, and set the stage for a tense conclusion to the match.
The U.S. team departs Sunday for Chicago and will remain there for the duration of the tournament. Just four days after the Gold Cup final, the U.S. will participate in the 2007 Copa America, the regional championship of South America. The 12-team tournament will run from June 26 to July 15 in nine cities across Venezuela. The U.S. has been drawn into Group C along with Argentina, Paraguay and Colombia. For the United States, the appearance will mark their third entrance into CONMEBOL’s signature event.
-- U.S. Men’s National Team Game Report --
Match-up: USA vs. Panama
Date: June 16, 2007
Competition: CONCACAF Gold Cup
Venue: Gillette Stadium – Foxborough, Massachusetts
Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET
Weather: 73 degrees, partly cloudy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 2 2
Panama 0 1 1
USA – Landon Donovan (pen) 60th minute
USA – Carlos Bocanegra (DaMarcus Beasley) 62.
PAN – Blas Perez (unassisted) 85.
USA: 1-Tim Howard; 2- Frankie Hejduk, 22-Oguchi Onyewu, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.), 13-Jonathan Bornstein; 6-Michael Bradley, 4-Pablo Mastroeni, 10-Landon Donovan (19-Ricardo Clark, 89), 7-DaMarcus Beasley; 20-Taylor Twellman (14-Steve Ralston, 71), 8-Clint Dempsey (11-Brian Ching, 84)
Subs not used: 5-Benny Feilhaber, 9-Eddie Johnson, 12-Jay DeMerit, 18-Kasey Keller
Head Coach: Bob Bradley
PAN: 1-Jaime Penedo, 2-Carlos Rivera, 3-Luis Moreno, 4-Juan Perez, 7-Blas Perez, 14-Manuel Torres, 15-Ricardo Phillips, 20-Engin Mitre (19-Nicolas Munoz, 63), 21-Amilcar Henriquez (8-Alberto Blanco, 78), 22-Victor Herrera (17-Luis Henriquez, 78), 23-Felipe Baloy (capt.)
Subs not used: 12-Oscar McFarlane, 13-Edwin Aguilar, 18-Luis Tejada, 26-Reinaldo Anderson
Head Coach: Alexandre Guimaraes
Stats Summary: USA PAN
Shots 4 4
Saves 2 5
Corner Kicks 5 1
Fouls 22 18
Offside 2 6
PAN – Manuel Torres (caution) 16th minute
PAN – Felipe Baloy (caution) 18.
PAN – Blas Perez (caution) 22.
USA – Frankie Hejduk (caution) 28.
USA – Oguchi Onyewu (caution) 35.
PAN – Juan Perez (caution) 49.
PAN – Manuel Torres (caution) 76.
PAN – Manuel Torres (ejection) 76.
USA – DaMarcus Beasley (caution) 87.
PAN – Nicolas Munoz (caution) 89.
USA – Tim Howard (caution) 90.
Referee: Neil Brizan (TRI)
1st Asst.: Hector Delgadillo (MEX)
2nd Asst.: Luis Camargo (MEX)
Fourth Official: Jose Pineda (HON)
Sierra Mist Man of the Match: Landon Donovan