U.S. Outlasts Panama in Gold Cup
Sunday, July 19 2009 @ 09:38 AM EDT
Contributed by: Don Winner
The United States, which received the first international goal by the dreadlocked midfielder Kyle Beckerman in the 49th minute, advanced to the semifinals. It will face Honduras on Thursday in Chicago.
Honduras defeated Canada, 1-0, here in Saturday’s other quarterfinal. Earlier in this tournament, the United States defeated Honduras, 2-0.
Much of Saturday night’s match was ill-tempered. Thirty-nine fouls were called and four yellow-card warnings were issued, one to the United States and three to Panama.
Gary Stempel, Panama’s coach, called the late penalty kick awarded to the Americans “very dubious.”
After the final whistle, several Panamanian players confronted the Mexican referee Armando Archundia, who then issued a red card to Felipe Baloy and gave a second yellow card to his teammate Blas Pérez. Panamanian fans tossed debris toward the referees as they left the field.
A number of collisions sent players writhing to the turf. In the 41st minute, the American defender Jimmy Conrad leapt for a header on a corner kick, collided with Pérez and was left with a bloody face and a concussion. His absence was felt almost immediately.
As the first half extended into extra time, a Panamanian corner kick was poorly handled by the Americans. The ball was headed to Chad Marshall, who tapped it to Stuart Holden in front of the goal. The ball bounced off Holden’s chest, and this failure to clear invited a disastrous consequence. Pérez pounced on the loose ball and hammered it into the net for a 1-0 lead for Panama.
“We were definitely disappointed to give up a goal before the half; that’s the worst time,” Beckerman said.
At the half, Coach Bob Bradley reminded his players to keep their cool against a chippy opponent. They did, and the Americans leveled the score at 1-1 four minutes into the second half. Forward Davy Arnaud cleverly flicked a soaring cross from Robbie Rogers to a charging Beckerman, whose shot from the top of the penalty area rocketed inside the right post. “I went and gambled a little,” Beckerman said, telling himself: “ ‘Get to the top of the box, the ball might pop out.’ Sometimes you gamble and the ball finds your foot.”
The United States dominated play in the second half, but it is missing many of its star players in this tournament, and the mostly second-tier replacements squandered several inviting scoring opportunities. The game stretched into a pair of 15-minute overtime periods and Cooper finally converted the decisive penalty kick.
“When we didn’t finish in regulation, you still got the sense that the mentality was, we’re going to take care of this thing,” Bradley said.
HONDURAS TOPS CANADA Walter Martinez scored on a penalty kick in the 36th minute to lead Honduras over Canada, 1-0.
Donis Escobar was flawless in goal for Honduras (3-1), making a few nice stops in the second half to preserve the lead.
With the state of their country’s leadership in flux, the Honduran faithful came out by the thousands to cheer their team. The fans waved the flag or draped it over the railing in several sections of the stadium.
Canada (2-1-1) was penalized during a spirited first half, giving Martinez a shot at the first goal. He shot the ball to the left of the Canadian goalie, Greg Sutton, who dove toward the right and could not make the stop.
When Martinez left the game in the 72nd minute, he clapped at the crowd and cheered as he headed toward the bench. The fans responded in kind, blowing horns and pointing in tribute.
Honduras could use something to celebrate. The ousted president, Manuel Zelaya, was hoping mediators would reach an agreement that would restore him to power.
Far from home, Martinez and Honduras did enough to advance to the semifinals for the first time since 2005. The fans erupted at the end of the game as the Honduran players mobbed one another at midfield. (AP)