As a reminder of what is on the line here in the Gold Cup. Outside of winning the Gold Cup and being the Concacaf Champion, the winner of the 2015 Gold Cup will play the winner of the 2013 Gold Cup (USA) for a berth in the Confederations Cup in Russia 2017.
And what is on the line in the third place game? Well, nothing really. Curiously, the USMNT has been the third place title holder since 2003. The USA beat Costa Rica 3-2 in 2003 for third place then CONCACAF decided to no longer hold a third place match, until bringing it back in 2015. In fact the USA is the only two time third place winner with a victory in 1996 as well. A win today would put the number of third place titles as an unassailable three. Unassailable because at some point with a change of leadership underway in CONCACAF, the nonsensical third place game should be cancelled again.
USA (FIFA Rank 34) v Panama (62)
How we got here, USA:
The USMNT lost 2-1 to Jamaica in the semi-finals. In a game that saw a fluke header and a free kick goal give Jamaica a 2-0 first half lead it looked like the USA was always going to pull it back and either win the game in regular time or take it to extra time after Michael Bradley scored the USA's opener in the 48th minute. But despite the USA finishing with 20 shots and 10 on goal versus Jamaica with 10 shots, 3 on goal, and the game ending with a xG USA 3.3 Jamaica 0.8, Jamaica pulled the upset. It was the first USMNT loss on US soil to a Caribbean team since 1968. Yes, 1968. That's a long time ago.
Note that this game will also double as the last appearance for DaMarcus Beasley for the USMNT. Beasley has 121 national team caps, scored 17 goals and played in four World Cups for the USA.
USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann said that he will use the core of the team from Wednesday's loss in this game. Expect Seattle Sounders Clint Dempsey to get the start. Brad Evans started on Wednesday and could also start unless Klinsmann decides to go with former Sounder DeAndre Yedlin.
How we got here, Panama:
Concacaf statement on Geiger, which says he 'accepted ... that errors had been made ... That affected the outcome.' pic.twitter.com/p6fbHJ7Uyn— Andrew Das (@AndrewDasNYT) July 25, 2015
That pretty much sums it up. Panama was called for a controversial early red card against Mexico by USA ref Mark Geiger. Then Panama outplayed Mexico with ten men, took the lead in the second half and looked to have an historic win, until Geiger called an atrocious penalty in the 90th minute where Mexico equalized. Mexico then got a legitimate penalty in extra time and won 2-1 after 120 minutes.