USMNT Wins Gold Cup for Fifth Time as Landon Donovan Wins Tournament MVP • Latino Sports

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USMNT Wins Gold Cup for Fifth Time as Landon Donovan Wins Tournament MVP

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CHICAGO – The U.S. Men’s National Team defeated Panama 1-0 on a second half goal from substitute Brek Shea to win the championship of the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

The hard-fought victory in front of 57,920 fans at Soldier Field marked the fifth time the USA has won the Gold Cup, having previously won the tournament in 1991, 2002, 2005 and 2007. The USA also pulled to within one title of tying Mexico for most overall Gold Cup championships.

With the victory, the USA earned a spot in the playoff that will be held between the champions of the 2013 and 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cups, with the winner of that match earning a berth to the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia. If the USA also wins the 2015 Gold Cup, it will earn an automatic berth to the Confederations Cup.

With U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann watching from a stadium suite high above the action while serving his suspension following his ejection from the semifinal, the USA had the vast majority of possession throughout the match. Still, Panama was well-organized on its defensive end, giving the USA little space in the attacking third.

After a tight first half that produced little in the way of scoring chances for either team, the USA came out of the break connecting more passes at a higher pace, and that opened up some space to work on the flanks. The winning goal came in the 69th minute from the right wing as Alejandro Bedoya, with some space to work after Michael Parkhurst’s overlap froze a defender, cut back into the middle and slipped a pass on the ground into the penalty area. The ball clipped a defender and skipped behind the Panama back line.

Landon Donovan made a run onto the pass and took a swing at the ball with his right foot near the top of the six-yard box. Though Donovan missed, that froze Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo to his line. The ball skipped through to the far post, and although it looked headed into the lower left corner, Shea made sure by tapping it into the net from a foot away.

Shea had come into the game just 42 seconds earlier for Joe Corona, and the goal was the second of his career for the U.S. Men’s National Team. It was the third time in the tournament a U.S. substitute had provided instant offense, following Eddie Johnson’s goal 15 seconds after entering the game against El Salvador in the quarterfinal and Shea’s first-ever MNT goal against Costa Rica in group play, when he scored the game-winner five minutes after coming on.

The USA had a legitimate shout for a penalty kick in the 52nd minute as Donovan’s cross from the right side of the penalty area caught the trailing arm of Carlos Rodriguez, but referee Joel Aguilar let the play go on.

Panama had to come out of its shell in search of an equalizer, but the U.S. defense held firm. A 72nd-minute strike after a corner kick from Roberto Chen went wide left, and Panama forced the USA to scramble away some clearances, but those were as close as the Central Americans got to tying the score.

The USA could have closed out the game in the 84th minute, but Shea’s cross on the ground from the left flank somehow was clipped over the goal from close range by Eddie Johnson.

The U.S. Men’s National Team will return to action next in a friendly against Bosnia-Herzegovina on Aug. 14 at Asim Ferhatovic Hase Stadium in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. The match will kick off at 2:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and WatchESPN. Fans can follow the match on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker and on Twitter @ussoccer.

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