At 4:00 this afternoon—roughly an hour from the time I started writing this post—the United States soccer team will play in its record fifth straight Gold Cup final of CONCACAF’s regional championship tournament. After losing back-to-back to Mexico for the last two years, the U.S. team will finally have another shot at the title, this time against Panama—who incidentally defeated Mexico 2-1 in their semifinal game.
Oddly enough, this isn’t the first time Panama and the U.S. have battled for the championship. The teams met in the 2005 final, fought to a draw and ended on penalty kicks, which the Americans won to capture their third title in their first of five consecutive final appearances.
Confusing, I know, but I assure you it’s impressive. It’s also about time since soccer—or football, as it’s known in the rest of the world—never really took off in the States. What better time than now to finally give soccer its due and to throw your support behind Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley and the rest of the guys? Panama is not an easy team to beat, and Lord knows they need all the help they can get.
Unfortunately, it looks like head coach Jurgen Klinsmann won’t be available for today’s final against the Panamanians. A temper tantrum during his semifinal win over Honduras made certain of that. The good news is that Beasley, the team’s captain, is confident his squad can still manage without their skilled and passionate leader.
“We can’t let that affect us,” he said of losing his coach. “We have to go out and play our game. [Klinsmann] gives us the tactics, but at the same time we know how to play football, we know how he wants us to play. I’m sure he’ll be cheering us on from wherever he’s sitting.”
Star forward Landon Donovan is also ready for today’s match. And who could doubt him after blasting through the tournament with five goals and seven assists to help the American team to ten consecutive wins and another title shot?
“I think it’s the most relaxed I’ve ever felt and the most enjoyable it’s felt in a long time,” Donovan said recently. “And I think when that’s the case I do really well.”
Let’s hope that’s the case less than an hour from now when the United States and Panama finally kick off what promises to be another exciting Gold Cup final. Tune in at 4 p.m. EST on your local FOX affiliate and enjoy the game!