PHILADELPHIA – There wasn’t much consolation in a third-place game defeat that saw the United States’ CONCACAF Gold Cup run come to a disappointing close.
Though Panama outshot the USA 25-5 in front of 12,598 fans at PPL Park on Saturday afternoon, second-half goals from Roberto Nurse and Clint Dempsey sent the match to extra time and, eventually, penalty kicks, where Los Canaleros emerged as 3-2 winners to claim third-place medals following a frustrating week.
Aron Johannsson, Roman Torres, Clint Dempsey and Abdiel Arroyo converted their attempts before Fabian Johnson began the third round by sending his shot sailing over the goal. Fortunately for the US, Armando Cooper followed that miss with a slow roller that US goalkeeper Brad Guzan saved easily.
The US wouldn’t convert another penalty, however, as Michael Bradley’s shot was pawed away by outstretched goalkeeper Luis Mejia and DaMarcus Beasley's driven shot was parried away, with Harold Cummings converting in between, to give the Panamanians some solace after a few days filled with protests and official complaints to CONCACAF.
The Americans have now played in the Gold Cup third-place game three times in their history, previously defeating Guatemala in 1996 and Costa Rica in 2003. The match also marked the third time the US and Panama have met in 2015, with the teams splitting the results with a win each as well as a draw in the Gold Cup Group A finale.
Jurgen Klinsmann made six changes to the lineup that lost to Jamaica on Wednesday, with Tim Ream, Omar Gonzalez and Timmy Chandler coming in alongside John Anthony Brooks on the backline, Graham Zusi and Joe Corona lining up in the midfield and Chris Wondolowski joining Aron Johannsson up top.
Panama, with three players ruled out by head coach Hernan Dario Gomez before the match and LA Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo and forward Luis Tejeda suspended, went through with the game after issuing a statement that they would play out of respect for the sport and their opponent.
Despite their locker-room protest and subsequent claims of “officiating irregularities” following the Mexico loss, Panama spent much of the match probing a shaky US defense and capitalizing on sloppy turnovers, though they generally lacked a finishing touch.
After Armando Cooper and Rolando Blackburn came close on a couple of occasions, it was Nurse who came through after shedding both Ream and Brooks in the 18-yard box before curling the ball past Guzan and inside the back post.
Down a goal and lacking ideas, Klinsmann went to his bench in the 60th minute, inserting Clint Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin for Wondolowski and Zusi.
Ten minutes later, both subs combined to equalize when Bradley picked out Yedlin’s run in behind. With the Panama goalkeeper bearing down on him, the Tottenham man turned and played the ball into space for an onrushing Dempsey, whose shot bounced over the recovering defenders for his tournament-leading seventh tally.
Still, Panama persisted, and would have scored the winner via a Blackburn header in the 81st minute if not for a sprawling save from Guzan, a stop that helped ensure the game would go to extratime to determine a winner.
DaMarcus Beasley, possibly playing his final game for the US, entered the game at the beginning of extratime, but Panama continued to have the better of the play, with only spotty finishing keeping them from a winner before penalty kicks decided the match.
Jamaica and Mexico will play for the Gold Cup championship on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field (7:30 pm ET; FOX Sports 1, Univision in USA; Sportsnet in Canada).