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U.S. MNT Set Sights on Panama and 2005 Gold Cup Crown


U.S. MNT vs. Panama - Pre-Game Notes
East Rutherford, New Jersey
July 23, 2005

GOING FOR GOLD: It's 24 hours until kickoff and the U.S. Men's National Team is one game away from its third Gold Cup championship, with only Panama standing in the way. The U.S. competes in its record-setting fifth Gold Cup final, while the Marearoja are making their first appearance in the title match. The team completed its last training session Saturday afternoon at the Premier Development Academy in Zarephath, N.J. Game time at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., is set for 3 p.m. ET, and the match will be broadcast live on Univision.  As always, fans can also follow along on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. The U.S. starting lineup against Panama will be posted at ussoccer.com approximately one hour before kickoff.

INJURIES/CARDS: The U.S. added Pablo Mastroeni and Eddie Pope to its lengthy injury list, both players ruled out of the final with ankle injuries suffered in the 2-1 semifinal victory over Honduras. With Conor Casey (torn ACL) and Steve Cherundolo (sprained MCL) already out of camp, the team has only 18 healthy field players available. No U.S. players are suspended for the final, and Ben Olsen returns from his one-match ban following a red card in the quarterfinals vs. Jamaica. The Panamanians will be without suspended defender Luis Moreno and midfielder Ricardo Phillips.

ALL_ACCESS VIDEO SELECTION

U.S. vs. Panama Preview: Go inside U.S. MNT camp as the team makes final preparations for their Gold Cup championship matchup vs. Panama on July 24 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Hear Bruce Arena ponder his absence from the bench for the final, Mooch discuss the familiar position of being in charge and Kasey Keller previewing a very familiar Panamanian side.

Re-Live the Drama: It was high drama Thursday night in New Jersey as the U.S. staged a late rally to stampede their way into the Gold Cup final. With the loss of two players, one head coach and the highly charged atmosphere in Giants Stadium, the finish was nothing short of remarkable. See U.S. Men's National Team Manager Bruce Arena like you've never seen him before - watching Thursday night's thrilling victory against Honduras from the locker room rather than his usual vantage point on the sideline, and witness the players' jubilation afterwards. It's a ussoccer.com all_access instant classic.


ONALFO BREAKS DOWN PANAMA: U.S. assistant coach Curt Onalfo has seen more than enough of the team's opponent in the Gold Cup finals, having personally watched Panama play live nearly 10 times in the last year. Panama have been their usual attacking force, scoring seven goals in this tournament and boasting an array of dangerous strikers. Strong, physical and fast, the Panamanians have a predictable formation and a direct, unchanging style. Find out the strengths of the Panamanian side and the keys to the matchup as Onalfo breaks down Panama in this exclusive podcast on ussoccer.com.

KELLER CONFOUNDS PANAMA: Speaking of re-living, the Panamanians will try their hardest to forget the last time they went up against the venerable U.S. netminder.  We don't mind reliving it, however. It was June 8, 2005, and the midway point of final round qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. With the U.S. leading 2-0 midway through the first half, Julio Medina hit a cross into the penalty area where Roberto Brown powered a header pegged for the right corner that Keller sprawled to his left to save. On the first rebound, Baloy was lurking at the far post and slammed a shot toward goal that Keller stuffed from five yards out. The rebound of Baloy’s attempt then popped into the air where Brown’s second shot was headed sharply from three yards out, where Keller somehow sprung from the ground into its path to not only stop the attempt, but snare the shot in his hands. The sequence of three brilliant saves for Keller took all of five seconds. Check out all the highlights and post-game celebration following the USA's 3-0 victory.

BY THE NUMBERS: U.S. IN THE GOLD CUP:
• 2 - Gold Cup championships won (1991, 2002)
• 3 - matches the U.S. will play against Panama in 2005
• 5 - final appearances for the U.S. in eight Gold Cup tournaments
• 7 - years since the United States and Mexico have met in Gold Cup play, a span of three full tournaments and 13 games
• 8 - number of goals scored by Landon Donovan in the Gold Cup, good for second place in team history
• 9 - goals scored by Eric Wynalda in Gold Cup play, the team's all-time tournament leader
• 14 - Number of victories for Bruce Arena in Gold Cup history. His all-time record is 14-1-3
• 20 - appearances by Cobi Jones and Kasey Keller in the Gold Cup, the most in U.S. team history
• 21 - shutouts for the U.S. in 36 all-time Gold Cup games (12 of which recorded by Keller)

MAKING THEIR CASE: Much has been made of the announcement this week that the U.S. Men's National Team has jumped to their highest ever position in the FIFA World Rankings. Coming on the heels of a six-week stretch in which the U.S. has won two World Cup qualifiers in convincing fashion and moved undefeated through their continental championship, the team is now positioned sixth in the world. While the rankings have certainly become a hot topic around the water cooler, since their top-eight finish in the 2002 World Cup, the U.S. has demonstrated that their position is well deserved. Consider:
• The U.S. is 29-7-9 since the 2002 World Cup (.744 winning percentage). Those seven losses have all been to teams ranked in the top 7 in the FIFA Rankings (the rankings published in the month the game was played):
Feb 13, 2003: vs. Argentina (4)
June 19, 2003: n. Turkey (7) [Confederations Cup]
June 21, 2003: n. Brazil (1) [Confederations Cup]
July 23, 2003: vs. Brazil (1) [Gold Cup]
Feb 18, 2004: at Holland (4)
March 27, 2005: at Mexico (6) [World Cup qualifier]
May 28, 2005: vs. England (6)
• The last time the U.S. lost to a team with a ranking outside the top 10 was June 21, 2002, n. Germany (11).
• The last time the U.S. lost a match to a team with a worse ranking  was June 14, 2002, n. Poland (38)

QUICK HITS:
• The U.S. holds an unbeaten 3-0-1 all-time record against Panama, with 12 goals scored and only two surrendered
• The teams have met once before in the Gold Cup, the U.S. grabbing a 2-1 win on July 14, 1993 in Dallas
• Seven players on tomorrow's roster appeared in the USA's 3-0 victory in World Cup qualifying on June 8 in Panama City.  Landon Donovan and Steve Ralston combined for the second goal, while Frankie Hejduk's shot from distance led to Brian McBride's finish to close out the victory.  The players on the field when the U.S. moved to 4-1-0 in the final round of qualifying: DaMarcus Beasley, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan (1), Frankie Hejduk, Kasey Keller, Pat Noonan, and Steve Ralston
• DaMarcus Beasley and Landon Donovan are tied for the tournament lead in scoring with three goals, along with CaA), Luis Tejada (PAN) and Wilmer Velasquez (HON)
• Beasley is also the tournament leader in assists, notching four in four games
• With the appearance against Honduras, Beasley reached 50 caps with the senior team, becoming the third youngest player behind Landon Donovan and Chris Henderson to hit the half-century mark
• Oguchi Onyewu's goal against Honduras made him only the second U.S. player over the last 10 years to score a game-winner in the final 15 minutes for his first goal.  The other was DaMarcus Beasley in stoppage time of a 2-1 Gold Cup win against Korea Republic on Jan. 19, 2002
• The U.S. has a 10-4-3 record in the knockout rounds of the Gold Cup, having reached the semifinals in six of seven tournaments
• The U.S. has collected 21 shutouts in 36 all-time matches in Gold Cup action
• Kasey Keller is now tied with Cobi Jones for the most all-time Gold Cup appearances, with 20 games under his belt.  He increased his record to 15-3-2 in Gold Cup play, with 12 shutouts. Keller talks about his Gold Cup success in this exclusive podcast at ussoccer.com
• Donovan leads the team in scoring with 18 points (six goals, six assists) in 2005.  With 21 career assists, he is one behind Cobi Jones on the all-time U.S. list
• The U.S. roster boasts eight players selected to play in the 2005 MLS All-Star Game, including six starters: Conrad, Dempsey, Donovan, Hejduk, Noonan, Pope, Reis, Vanney
• The semifinal victory against Honduras marked the latest come-from-behind triumph in U.S. Men's National Team modern history (since 1990), with the decisive goals coming in the 86th and 92nd minutes. (The previous latest comeback win came in a 2-1 victory over Trinidad & Tobago in the 1991 Gold Cup, when the U.S. scored in the 85th and 87th minutes.)  It was also only the second time during Bruce Arena's seven-year tenure that the team has won after trailing at halftime

ALL ABOUT PANAMA:

THE SQUAD: In the middle of a dogfight in World Cup qualifying, the Panamanians have quietly climbed to the title match in the Gold Cup. After going 1-1-1 in group play, Panama surprised South Africa in a barnburner of a quarterfinal match where the result was decided in a wild 5-3 penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw in regulation. It was another cracker in the semifinals, with Panama jumping out to a 2-0 lead before Colombia reduced the deficit by half. Ricardo Phillips restored the two goal lead in the 72nd minute with his second of the match, and the Red Wave held on for a 3-2 win and a ticket to the final.

HISTORY: The U.S. is 3-0-1 all-time against Panama, with three of the meetings coming in FIFA World Cup qualifying. The U.S. has won the last two matches by 6-0 and 3-0 scores respectively. Landon Donovan has been on fire in the series, recording three goals and two assists in the last three games.

TOP PLAYERS: The strength of the Panamanians lies with their workhorse forwards, starting with the Dely Valdes twins, Julio and Jorge. Called out of retirement for the Gold Cup, they are strong and imposing in the area. Luis Tejada has been a presence all tournament, leading the team with three goals, and Roberto Brown remains a threat off the bench. They will be without the services of Ricardo Phillips, a crafty and dangerous midfielder. Nonetheless, the bottle-blonde Julio Medina can provide much of the offensive spark with his quality service and movement all over the midfield. Panama has an athletic and experienced backline, and young goalkeeper Jaime Penedo has been a revelation in the tournament thus far.

LAST TIME V. PANAMA
June 8, 2005 -Estadio Rommel Fernandez, Panama City, Panama - FIFA World Cup qualifier
Panama             0      
USA                    3     Carlos Bocanegra 6', Landon Donovan 20', Brian McBride 40'
USA
: 18-Kasey Keller; 6-Steve Cherundolo, 23-Eddie Pope (3-Gregg Berhalter, 86), 4-Carlos Bocanegra, 3-Frankie Hejduk; 14-Steve Ralston, 25-Kerry Zavagnin, 17-Pat Noonan (15-Bobby Convey, 81); 10-Landon Donovan, 20-Brian McBride (Capt.), 7-DaMarcus Beasley (8-Clint Dempsey, 63).
PAN: 1-Donaldo Gonzalez; 5-Felipe Baloy, 2-Amilcar Henriquez (7-Engin Mitre, 75), 16-Joel Jimenez (13-Joel Solanilla, 39), 4-Jose Anthony Torres (Capt.); 6-Gabriel Gomez, 10-Julio Medina; 8-Alberto Blanco, 11-Roberto Brown, 9-Jose Garces, 15-Ricardo Phillips (18-Luis Tejada, 39).

For all the updated news, scores, and standings on the Gold Cup, visit the Gold Cup competition page on ussoccer.com.

 


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