May 18, 2024
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USMNT’s Gold Cup Journey Ends in Heartbreak

Gold Cup - Courtesy of www.ussoccer.com

The U.S. Men’s National Team (USMNT) experienced disappointment as they fell to Panama 5-4 on penalty kicks in the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup Semifinals. After playing to a 1-1 draw, the match went into a tense shootout, marking the first time in team history that the USMNT faced back-to-back penalty shootouts. The result effectively ended their run in this year’s confederation championship. Despite forward Jesús Ferreira’s tournament-leading seventh goal, the USMNT couldn’t secure a victory in front of a crowd of 31,690 at Snapdragon Stadium.

This was the 12th meeting between the USA and Panama in the Gold Cup, with Panama emerging victorious for only the second time in the tournament’s history. Panama will now face either Jamaica or Mexico in the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup Final at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles on Sunday, July 16.

The game started with a bang for the USMNT, with forward Brandon Vazquez delivering a dangerous pass that led to a powerful right-footed strike from teenage sensation Cade Cowell, hitting the base of the post within the first minute. However, Panama dominated possession and posed significant threats throughout the first half. Ismael Diaz tested goalkeeper Matt Turner with a quick shot in the 12th minute, while Yoel Bárcenas had a goal disallowed for offside in the 29th minute. The USMNT defense was kept on their toes, with Turner making crucial saves and denying Panama the lead.

The second half mirrored the first, with the USMNT creating chances but struggling to convert. Vazquez missed a golden opportunity in the 52nd minute, while Turner made another important save at the other end. The game grew more intense as both teams searched for a decisive goal, but the regulation time ended without a winner, leading to extra time.

Fatigue began to take its toll on the USMNT in the first period of extra time, and Panama capitalized on a defensive lapse to take the lead through Ivan Anderson in the 99th minute. However, the USMNT quickly responded as substitute Jordan Morris assisted Jesús Ferreira, who volleyed the ball into the net to level the score. Ferreira’s goal marked his tournament-leading seventh, tying Clint Dempsey’s record set in 2015.

Gold Cup - Courtesy of www.iolaregister.com

With the 1-1 deadlock at the end of extra time, the USMNT found themselves in a shootout for the second consecutive match, a first in team history. Unfortunately, Ferreira’s opening penalty was saved by Panama’s goalkeeper, Orlando Mosquera. Although Turner made a crucial save, a missed kick from substitute Cristian Roldan allowed Panama to secure victory with a well-placed strike from Carrasquilla in the sixth round of the shootout.

The USMNT can take pride in their performance throughout the tournament, with Ferreira’s goal-scoring prowess a highlight. However, their Gold Cup journey ended in disappointment, leaving them with lessons to learn and room for improvement as they continue to strive for success in future competitions.

In the end, it was Panama’s night to celebrate, while the USMNT must regroup and focus on their upcoming challenges on the international stage.

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