The 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup has just four teams remaining in the quest to qualify for the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil. After dominating performances in their quarterfinal matches, Panama and United States will have square off on Wednesday in Texas in a rematch from group play.
Date/Time: Wednesday, June 22, 2011 at 7:00 P.M.
Venue: Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas
USA vs Panama Betting Lines
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Gold Cup Semi Final Preview and Prediction
After being defeated 2-1 by Panama in group play, the USA will have another chance to be the better team, and move on to the finals in an effort to win its fifth Gold Cup.
In the first match USA and Panama both played sloppy games, and US didn’t get their first goal until the 67th minute when Clarence Goodson got his team back into the game after they fell into a 2-0 hole. But the deficit was too far to overcome with just over 20 minutes left in regulation.
Both teams then dominated their quarterfinal match, only allowing their opponents 14 totals shots, with the USA only allowing four with only two on goal.
The Americans won the match over Jamaica, perhaps the hottest team in the tournament at the time, 2-0, with second half goals from Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey.
It took Panama penalty kicks to defeat El Salvador in the quarterfinals 5-3, despite dominating them in nearly every category. El Salvador’s only goal against Panama in that quarterfinal match was a 77th-minute penalty kick by forward Rodolfo Zelaya.
The Americans have defiantly been gaining momentum, especially in their last two matches, shutting out both opponents, after coming into both contests as the underdog. They have been using their loud and proud home crowd in every match, and it will be hard for any team to defeat them if they play up to their potential.
However, there are several areas of concern for Bob Bradley’s side, though, like missed goals when players have completely perfect setups or open shots and they seem to relax and give up the easy shot instead of pushing full speed until the point is scored.
Meanwhile, Panama should have closed out El Salvador in the quarterfinals without the need for penalty kicks, but gave up careless penalties in the most crucial of moments of the match that resulted in the equalizing goal.
Panama’s only bright spot throughout the tournament came where they didn’t give up dumb penalties or failed to close out an unmatched opponent. That was in their 2-1 victory over USA in group play –a side that has turned things around, defeating favored opponents and finishing second place in Group C with their 1-0 win over Guadeloupe.
Since they have implanted Carlos Bocanegra into their center position on defense, they have looked much stronger and have looked like a completely different team on the defensive side of the ball, showing more urgency to score on the offensive side, and using much more effective strategies to get the ball to the net.
If Panama is going to have a chance in this match, they will have to show that they can close out a game when they have the chance, and not be reliant on penalty kicks or overtime in general.
Matt’s Free Prediction: Take USA – This team is just playing at such a high level that it will be so tough for Panama to get a win against the tournament’s host team. Look for the game to finish under, with the USA getting a single goal, then holding Panama off with their stout defense.