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USMNT Dumped Out of Gold Cup in Penalties
The USMNT could not replicate their penalty-shootout heroics from their win over Canada in Wednesday's Semifinal vs. Panama, failing to make the final for the first time since 2015.
For the second straight game in the 2023 Gold Cup on Wednesday, the depth of the U.S. Men's National Team was put to the test, going the distance in their semi-final matchup with Panama.
This time, however, the USMNT could not replicate the last-ditch success in penalties that took them past Canada just three days prior. In another performance where a second-string attack once again failed to execute in the final third, it took more than 100 minutes for the opening goal to find the back of the net, and it came against the U.S.
Notably, the match saw both former New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner and current Revolution defender Dejuan Jones get starts in the back line as the U.S. continued the quest to defend their championship, one that ultimately fell short. Jones played 104 minutes in the late loss, making four clearances, three interceptions and winning 4/7 arial duels. He also finished his night with an 83% pass accuracy (39/47).
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Through 90 minutes, the hosts managed 14 shots, but only found the target three times. Their first real chance of the match came just 20 seconds in, when Brandon Vazquez took advantage of a Panama turnover in the attacking third, squaring the ball at the top of the box to a wide open Jesús Ferreira who sent a low first-time shot against the post and out.
Panama did find the back of the net on two separate occasions on the night but were kept off the board by the offsides flag in both instances. The first came in the 28th minute, when Yoel Bárcenas found himself in behind on the end of a long ball over the top, controlling the ball with a one-time finish past Matt Turner that nestled into the bottom corner. Unfortunately for the 29-year-old, he could not hold his run in time as the flag denied the opening goal.
Although Panama out possessed the U.S. 66-34% in the opening 45, the next opportunity would not arise until the other end of the halftime break, when the elusive final touch once again escaped the U.S. This time, it was Cade Cowell who sliced through a pair of defenders in the 52nd minute before cutting the ball back across the face of goal at the byline. The pass found the right foot of Vasquez inside the six, but the striker could not control the touch as he redirected the cross over the bar from just close range.
Straight down the other end just under a minute later, Panama come storming back on the counter. It was once again Bárcenas orchestrating the chance, sending in a looping cross from the right flank and finding the head of a completely unmarked Ismael Díaz in the box, whose header into the turf forced a sharp reflex save from Matt Turner to keep the game level.
Just 12 minutes later, it was the U.S. that sent yet another shot wide. It came when Diandre Yedlin sent a low cross across just inside the box towards the run of Jesús Ferreira, who dragged the right-footed shot just wide of the post in a chance extremely reminiscent to that of the opening seconds. That was as close as the U.S. would come to the opening goal as the game stayed scoreless through 90 minutes.
The conclusion of regular time did not come without drama, however. Panama thought they had a late winner in the 94th minute when Díaz tucked home a composed right-footed finish off of another ball over the top, but was rightfully ruled to be in an offsides position once again as Panama were denied the opener for a second time. Despite appeals for a handball on the ensuing corner kick that led to the goal, the referee ultimately did not give the Panamanians the call as the two teams would stay locked in a scoreless battle, sending the U.S. to extra time for the second straight game.
It was Panama who eventually did open the scoring at the third time of asking, finding the back of the net in the 99th minute when Adalberto Carrasquilla played Iván Anderson in behind with a looping ball over the U.S. back line. Anderson calmly touched the ball past on onrushing Matt Turner, who helplessly fell to the turf outside his area as the substitute touched the ball into the empty net to open the scoring in extra time.
Not to be deterred, the U.S. would find a way to level the match just five minutes later. After two chances went missing through regulation, it was Ferreira who finally found his goal, taking the first-time volley out of the air off of the redirected header from Jordan Morris at the top of the box and finding the side netting with a quality strike to level the contest at one. It was his seventh goal in this year’s Gold Cup, tying the record previously set by Clint Dempsey for the most goals in a single Gold Cup tournament. Ultimately, it was enough for the U.S. to force penalties from behind for the second straight match.
This time, though, the U.S. would not share the same fortune as they did on Sunday. Despite a penalty save from Matt Turner against Christian Martínez in the shootout, both Ferreira and Christian Roldán saw their attempts saved as the Stars and Stripes failed to make the final for the first time since 2015.
With the win, Panama will move on to play Mexico in Sunday’s Gold Cup final after the Nations League runners-up saw to a dominant 3-0 win in their semifinal over Jamaica.
As for the defending champions, their run comes to an end prior to the final for only the fifth time in their last 17 Gold Cup appearances, ending B.J. Callahan’s interim coaching stint on a sour note as a busy international window comes to a close.