Panamania grips Gold Cup
© AFP

The Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida was the site of one of the biggest upsets in CONCACAF Gold Cup history yesterday, when Julio Dely Valdes' Panama beat the USA 2-1 to hand the four-time regional champions their first-ever group-stage loss in the competition’s history. The Panamanians now control the fate of Group C with two wins from their two games. The Americans are tied with Canada on three points after the men from the Great White North beat ten-man Guadeloupe 1-0 in the night’s earlier game.

Results
Group C
Canada 1-0 Guadeloupe
USA 1-2 Panama

The day replayed –
Canada’s hopes of reaching the quarter-finals of the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup were boosted last night with a nervy 1-0 win over Caribbean outfit Guadeloupe, who have lost both of their games so far in the USA. The islanders’ job became significantly more complicated when they were reduced to ten men after only four minutes, but they put in a determined performance and were only undone when Canuck creator-in-chief Dwayne De Rosario stroked home from the spot in the 51st minute. Canada now sit on three points with a game against surprise group leaders Panama to go.

Panama created a sensation in the late game, beating the USA for the first time and handing the hosts their first-ever group stage loss at a Gold Cup. The Canaleros put in a disciplined and incisive performance, keeping organised at the back and breaking with efficiency when opportunities arose. Luis Tejada opened the scoring for the Central Americans, runners-up at the Gold Cup in 2005, bundling the ball over the line after a long pass from midfield was nodded down in the area. Gabriel Gomez added another from the spot before the interval. The Stars and Stripes responded with a goal from Clarence Goodson in the 66th minute, but it was too little too late for the four-time CONCACAF champions as Panama’s celebrations are sure to go on long into the night.

The number
2 –
In their two games so far at the Gold Cup, Guadeloupe have twice had to play with ten men. Defender Mickael Tacalfred was given his marching orders in their 3-2 opening loss to Panama and his replacement, Jean-Luc Lambourde, was sent for an early bath after only four minutes in yesterday’s loss to Canada for a lunging, studs-up tackle.

Player of the day
Luis Tejada (Panama)
Scorer of the underdogs’ first goal against the USA, the Panama-based striker, formerly of America de Cali and Millonarios, was powerful, combative and full of running. The most valuable player from the 2005 Gold Cup where Panama went to the final, was a handful for the US defence all night. Holding the ball up brilliantly and inviting his team-mates into play, the 29-year-old Tejada’s hard-work and keen eye for goal were crucial components on a historic night for Panama.

Goal of the day
USA-Panama, Clarence Goodson (66’)
The Americans were desperate for a goal, having gone down 2-0 in the first half. With Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore and Landon Donovan – the team’s tried and trusted attacking triumvirate – unable to produce the goods, it was a fresh-faced centre-back who stepped up to cut the lead in half. A corner-kick from Donovan was flicked on deftly at the near post and Clarence Goodson of Danish side Brondy, claiming only his 19th cap, dove to head home into the top corner at full stretch. It mattered little in the end as the US failed to find the second goal they needed.

Quote of the day
“We came out flat and they came out ready to play. We were chasing the game from early on and you have to give Panama credit for the way they approached the game,” USA’s Landon Donovan is putting the loss to Panama behind him as the team get set to rebound against Guadeloupe.

Up next
Mexico have already booked their place in the Gold Cup quarter-finals thanks to a pair of 5-0 wins. They can take their foot off the accelerator in their final Group A contest against Costa Rica, who are in second place and looking likely to follow El Tri through to the knockout rounds. El Salvador – who drew with Costa Rica in their second game after a heavy opening loss – are technically still alive, as are their opponents on Sunday, Cuba, who have yet to score or earn a point.

Have your say
Does the USA have what it takes to bounce back, unseat holders Mexico and claim their fifth Gold Cup crown along with a place in their second consecutive FIFA Confederations Cup?