By Ian S Palmer
Co-hosts USA and Panama will be meeting in a rematch of the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup Final this Saturday, July 25 at PPL Park in Chester. This game will be for third place in the tournament though rather than all of the marbles. The U.S. was beaten 2-1 by Jamaica in their semifinal showdown at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on July 22 while Panama was dropped 2-1 in extra time by Mexico in a highly controversial affair at the same venue. If the USA vs Panama game is tied after 90 minutes it will go to 30 minutes of extra time and then a penalty-kick shootout if it’s still not decided.
USA vs Panama Betting Preview
- bet365 currently lists the USA as the favorites to win the game at 11/20 with Panama 11/2 and a 90-minute draw at 11/4
The Americans advanced to the final four after thumping Cuba 6-0 in their quarterfinal clash in Baltimore, Maryland on July 18, but then ran into trouble against the underdog Jamaicans in Atlanta. Jamaica had managed just one win against the U.S. in 22 previous games and the loss means the Americans won’t be playing in the Gold Cup Final for the first time since 2003. It was also their first home defeat to a Caribbean opponents since back in 1968.The U.S. will now have to meet the eventual 2015 Gold Cup winners in a playoff game to qualify for the Confederations Cup in Russia in 2017.
During the group stage, the U.S. captured Group A with seven points from a pair of wins and a draw. They opened their tournament with a 2-1 win over Honduras followed that up with a 1-0 win over Haiti three days later. The U.S. then wrapped up their group play with a 1-1 draw against Panama and scored four goals in group play and allow two against. In the quarterfinals, it was all the USA as they dominated from start to finish in their 6-0 whitewashing of Cuba and were led by Clint Dempsey’s hat trick.
Panama is playing in the third-place match after a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Mexico, which was basically decided by some terrible refereeing decisions. Panama was reduced to 10 men in the 25th minute when their leading scorer Luis Tejada was handed a red card for an alleged intentional elbow on Mexico’s Francisco Rodriguez. However, Panama didn’t fold and took the lead from a corner kick in the 57th minute. Mexico tied the match after Panama’s Torres fell on ball in his own 18-yard box and the referee incredibly handed Mexico a penalty kick for handball.
The ridiculous call came with just a couple of minutes left in the contest and it resulted in a 10-minute delay as scuffles broke out on the pitch and in the stands. Andrés Guardado slotted home the penalty and the contest went into extra time. Mexico then received a second penalty in the 104th minute and Guardado converted it to sent Panama to the third-place match. Panama reached the semifinals after beating Trinidad and Tobago 6-5 in a shootout after a 1-1 regulation-time tie.
They advanced to the quarterfinals as one of the Gold Cup’s second-best third-place teams with three 1-1 draws in the group stage. They kicked their against Haiti, then played Honduras, and wrapped up the round-robin segment against the USA. They completed the group stage with three goals scored and three allowed. The U.S. and Panama have met 15 times in the past with the American squad winning 11 times, losing just once and drawing the other three. Panama’s lone victory came back in 2011 when they defeated the United States 2-1 in a Gold Cup clash. Tejada and midfielder Valentin Pimentel of Panama are both suspended for this game and midfielder Gabriel Gomez is suffering from a rib injury.