The U.S. men’s soccer team is set for a rematch against Panamá tonight at the Gold Cup regional tournament being hosted by the United States. At stake this time is a berth in the semifinals.
Panamá stunned the United States, 2-1, in first round group play June 11. It was the first time the U.S. had ever lost to Panamá in 10 matches, and it ended a 26-game unbeaten streak for the U.S. men in first round Gold Cup play.
Three days later, after the Americans beat tiny Guadeloupe by only 1-0, and Coach Bob Bradley allowed two of his star players to leave three days of training to attend their sisters’ weddings, the team found itself on the receiving end of a lot of criticism.
Much of that subsided after a 2-0 win over Jamaica Sunday in Washington that sent the U.S. into the semifinals, which will be played in Houston.
There the Americans will get a chance for revenge against Panamá, which advanced with a penalty kick shootout win over El Salvador.
The U.S. soccer team has reached four of the past five Gold Cup finals and can make it five of six with a win over Panamá. The other semifinal, also Wednesday in Houston, features defending champion México against Honduras. The semifinal winners meet for the title Saturday at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
This biennial Gold Cup has more than just regional football bragging rights at stake this year. The winner earns a berth in the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil that serves as a tune-up event one year before the next World Cup.