By Ian S Palmer
Group A CONCACAF Gold Cup action continues at Sporting Park in Kansas City on Monday, July 14 when co-hosts and reigning Gold Cup champions USA square off against Panama in the third and final group stage match for each team. The Americans have already clinched first place in the group with narrow one-goal wins over Honduras and Haiti in their first two games. They pulled off a 2-1 win over Honduras in their opener at Frisco, Texas on July 7 and then beat Haiti 1-0 three days later at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
USA vs Panama – 2015 Gold Cup Soccer Betting Preview
- bet365 currently lists the USA as the favorites to win this match at 4/9 with Panama 11/2 and a 90-minute draw at 7/2
Panama managed a 1-1 draw against Haiti in their first outing on July 7 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco and then fought to another 1-1 draw against Honduras in Foxborough. The U.S has six points after their two victories, while Panama sits in second place in Group A with two points. Honduras and Haiti have a point each. Panama will be out for some revenge on Monday since they were beaten by the U.S. in the Gold Cup Final two years ago. They may also be meeting the Americans at an opportune time since U.S. manage Jurgen Klinsmann may decide to rest his top players in this contest and experiment with his lineup.
The U.S. won their second straight at the tournament on Friday when former captain Clint Dempsey of the Seattle Sounders scored in his fourth straight game. Dempsey scored the only goal of the encounter in the 47th minute for the win. Dempsey now has all three goals for the U.S. in the event this year. It wasn’t an easy win for the hosts as Haiti put up a spirited fight and should have scored at least once during the 90 minutes. Klinsmann started the game with a completely different back four compared to their opener and Haiti put the pressure on from the start.
This was the second straight end-to-end game for the U.S. and the fans have loved the goalmouth action. However, Klinsmann still won’t be happy with his side’s defensive play. Panama needs at least a draw to have a good shot at advancing to the knockout stage, so this should be another exciting encounter. As for Panama, they blew a late 1-0 lead in their opener against Haiti when they allowed the tying goal in the 85th minute and did the same against Honduras when they conceded a penalty-kick goal with nine minutes to go.
Panama took the lead in the 21st minute when Luis Tejada beat Honduran goalkeeper Donis Escobar. Honduras created several chances to equalize but was foiled by good goaltending and the woodwork. It appeared that Eddie Hernandez had tied the score on a header, but it was ruled offside. The penalty came when Andy Najar was taken down in the Panamanian 18-yard box. The 2010 MLS Rookie of the Year, who now plays with Anderlecht in Belgium, had his penalty saved, but then banged in the rebound to make it 1-1. Honduras kept putting on the pressure and Hernandez scored in the fifth minute of injury time, but once again his goal was controversially called off with an offside call.
The U.S. and Panama have met 14 times in the past with the American squad winning 11 times, losing just once and drawing the other pair. Panama’s lone victory came back in 2011 when they defeated the United States 2-1 in a Gold Cup clash.