Panama beats USA on penalties for third in Gold Cup

Panama beats USA on penalties for third in Gold Cup

Reserve goalkeeper Luis Mejia denied the last three US shooters and suspension-weakened Panama edged the United States 3-2 on penalties Saturday to claim third place in the Gold Cup.

After the teams played to a 1-1 draw through extra time, Aron Johannsson and Clint Dempsey scored for the Americans while Roman Torres and Abdiel Arroyo answered for Panama in the shoot-out.

Fabian Johnson sent his shot over the crossbar but US goalkeeper Brad Guzan responded by diving right to deny Armando Cooper and keep the shoot-out level.

Mejia then dove right to stop US captain Michael Bradley and after Panama`s Harold Cummings scored, Mejia denied DaMarcus Beasley to secure the podium spot in the biennial North and Central American regional football championship.

For the Americans, it marked the second time in four days they had been upset by a team which had only beaten them once before.

Jamaica`s "Reggae Boyz" stunned the United States 2-1 on Wednesday to reach Sunday`s final against six-time champion Mexico.

The Americans, who last month won away matches against the Germans and Dutch, were handed another humiliating embarrassment by a Panama side that was 1-12 with three drawn against the US team in prior matches.

It was the first penalty shoot-out for the Americans since they beat Panama 3-1 in the 2005 Gold Cup final. The US beat Panama 1-0 in last year`s Gold Cup final.

Panama striker Roberto Nurse charged into the penalty area, faked past US defender John Brooks and curled in a left-footed shot around US goalkeeper Brad Guzan to open the scoring in the 55th minute.

The Americans brought strikers DeAndre Yedlin of Tottenham Hotspur and Clint Dempsey of Seattle, a former Fulham and Spurs standout, off the bench in the 60th minute and in the 70th they combined on the equalizer.

Yedlin controled the ball with his chest in the penalty area and flipped a pass right to Dempsey, who blasted the ball into the vacant net to pull the US level.

It marked the sixth Cup match in a row in which Panama took a 1-0 lead only to surrender a second-half equalizer.

Several players exchanged shoves after a midfield foul about halfway into the first extra 15-minute period, a flurry that sparked yellow cards for Panama`s Anibal Godoy and Americans Yedlin and Tim Chandler.The Canaleros, who cried robbery after a controversial 89th-minute foul call in the semi-final set up Mexico`s penalty kick equalizer, faced the US team without starting goalkeeper Jaime Penedo and top scorer Luis Tejada, each suspended two matches on Friday by regional governing body CONCACAF.

Penedo was banned for pushing the assistant referee after the semi-final loss while Tejada was banned one game for a red card and another for not promptly leaving the pitch when ejected in the 25th minute against Mexico. Both will miss Panama`s next international match as well.

Until the Jamaica shocker, no regional rival had ever denied the Americans a berth in the Gold Cup final. South American guest invitee Brazil stopped the US squad 1-0 in a 1996 semi-final and 2-1 in a 2003 semi-final while 2000 special guest Colombia beat the US team on penalties in a quarter-final.

The Americans have September friendlies against Brazil and Peru and an playoff match for a 2017 Confederations Cup berth before starting their bid to qualify for an eighth consecutive World Cup on November 13. 

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