Perez strike helps Panama secure final Gold Cup berth
The field for the CONCACAF Gold Cup is finally set, as Panama cruised past Guatemala 3-1 in the Copa Centroamericana's fifth-place game to earn the final Central American berth in this summer's tournament.
FC Dallas forward Blas Pérez buried a header in the 27th minute to open the scoring and send Panama on their way. It was Pérez's second goal of the tournament and the 28th of his national team career.
Panama join Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador and first-time qualifiers Belize in qualifying for the Gold Cup from Central America. Cuba, Haiti, Martinique and Trinidad & Tobago qualified from the Caribbean region, while the United States, Mexico and Canada qualified automatically.
More MLS players will be in action during the semifinal stage of the Copa Centroamericana, with Honduras (Boniek García, Víctor Bernárdez, Jerry Bengtson, Mario Martínez) taking on Belize and Costa Rica (Álvaro Saborío, Jairo Arrieta, Rodney Wallace) facing El Salvador, with both games set for Friday evening. The final and third-place game are both on Sunday.
The Gold Cup is set to take place July 7-28 in 13 cities across the United States.