Gold Cup: US ready for Panama rematch in semifinals

WASHINGTON — The United States men's national team is through to the semifinals of the Gold Cup, where they will face upstarts Panama on Wednesday in Houston. It's a rematch of the Americans' opening-round defeat, a shocking 2-1 score line that was the first group-stage loss ever for the US.

You might think the Yanks want revenge, but they sound more focused on reaching the final in Los Angeles than exacting a victory against the Central American squad.

"You know, I don't really mind who wins," Sacha Kljestan told MLSsoccer.com after his side's 2-0 victory over Jamaica at RFK Stadium. "I don't really care. We're just looking to get stronger as the tournament moves on."

The US played their best match of the Gold Cup on D.C. United's home pitch, dominating control and creating a number of chances against their quick but overmatched opponents. It was the type of performance Bob Bradley needed to see from his team, one they can build on while progressing to the next round.

In Tim Howard's mind, another game against the Panamanians presents a chance for the US to show they can be better than they were a week ago in Florida.

"We didn't perform to our standard against Panama in Tampa and it's an opportunity to put things right," the American goalkeeper said. "If they are in front of us, we'll do the business. If it's not them, we're solely focused on getting to LA. No matter who stands in our way, we're very confident. Although they played well on the night, they're going to have to do it again and we're up for it."

The first goal, of course, is finding a way to Pasadena. But the US players probably won't complain if they end Panama's Gold Cup quest while accomplishing that task.