The United States and Panama made wholesale changes to their starting lineups with both teams already qualified for the quarterfinals. In the end, the US depth and substitutes were the difference, as Jozy Altidore’s acrobatic 66th minute goal proved the difference.
What could normally have been a wonderful contest in a replay of the 2013 Gold Cup Final instead went to the second teamers as both teams rested for the knockout stages. Gregg Berhalter did however opt to send in some heavy hitters in the second half, with Christian Pulisic, breakout star Tyler Boyd, and Gyasi Zardes all finishing the game off the bench. With Jamaica rather unimpressive in their group stage, it’s entirely plausible that the USA and Panama could square off again in the semifinals next week, and understandable if both managers didn’t want to tip their hands tactically or overwork their first team.
However, big chances were scarce in this game, as the teams combined for just 14 total shots and only three on target. The US had a solid chance in the 20th minute, when Christian Roldan played in Altidore in the middle of the box, but a well positioned Jose Calderon in net smothered the chance. Panama’s best effort came later in the first half, when Omar Gonzalez slightly misjudged a long ball but recovered to see Panama’s Jose Fajardo fire his shot wide.
Altidore’s half overhead/half bicycle was the lone goal of the match, as his effort on the doorstep of the Panama goal proved the difference. A well placed corner from Djordie Mihailovic found Matt Miazga, but the corner was never cleared and a lurking Altidore slammed home the shot from two yards out.
JOZY ALTIDORE WITH THE BICYCLE KICK!— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 27, 2019
He scores his 42nd international goal and puts the USMNT out in front pic.twitter.com/CVuFexT8Wj
Sean Johnson recorded one save for the shutout in the USMNT goal, as the Americans allowed zero goals in the three group stage matches for the second time in their history.
With the win, the United States topped Group D, claiming all nine points with three victories and move on to face Group C runners-up Curacao in the quarters. Panama finished second and will face Jamaica on the other side of the bracket. The Group C/D quarterfinals will take place on Sunday, June 30th from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia with Jamaica-Panama up first at 530pm followed by USA-Curacao at 800pm Eastern.
In the earlier Group D match, Trinidad and Tobago got a late equalizer from Minnesota United’s Kevin Molino to tie upstart Guyana 1-1 in both countries final Gold Cup game. Both teams were eliminated after losing their first two matches, but Guyana made the most of their first Gold Cup, earning their Gold Cup first point on their tournament debut.
Midfielder Neil Danns struck a beauty in the 54th minute for his third goal of the tournament as his solo effort found the top far corner. Danns’ three goals see him tied with Gyasi Zardes and Raul Jimenez of Mexico for the tournament. Molino would poke home the equalizer past an indecisive Quillan Roberts in the 80th to tie the game at 1-1, ending a months long international scoring drought for Trindad dating back to last September.
The Golden Jaguars of Guyana now look towards their Nations League campaign in the fall, where they’ll look to challenge Jamaica for the top spot of League B’s Group C. Trinidad and Tobabo finish off a poor tournament, and will need to regroup for their League A matches against Honduras and Martinique in what might be a wide open semifinal spot in their Group C.