The United States are playing in their record fifth straight Gold Cup final, but they've failed to capture the trophy in the last two editions of the tournament, falling to Mexico on back-to-back occasions. Six years have passed since Benny Feilhaber fired the USMNT to a continental title, and they'll have a chance to win it back on Sunday against Panama, who dumped defending champions Mexico out of the tournament.
The last time Mexico failed to make the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, these were the two sides that met to decide the title. El Tri were defeated by invitees Colombia, who were then subsequently upset by Panama in the semifinal. The United States won the final on penalties after a 0-0 draw to capture their third Gold Cup in their first of five consecutive final appearances.
If Panama is going to produce a better result this time around, they're probably going to do it through their aggressive and powerful forwards on direct attacks and set pieces. Blas Perez has been terrorizing the United States for years in Gold Cups and World Cup qualifying, but his strike partner Gabriel Torres has been the star of this tournament. He's the co-leader in goals with five -- along with Chris Wondolowski and Landon Donovan -- and has reportedly agreed to join the Colorado Rapids at the end of the tournament.
The Panamanians have a solid defense, but missing captain and best central defender, Felipe Baloy, has hurt. With Donovan and Eddie Johnson in the best national team form either has been in for a decade, it's going to take a spectacular performance for Panama to keep the U.S. from scoring first.
Jurgen Klinsmann will not be on the sidelines for the U.S. after CONCACAF handed down a suspension for his conduct in their semifinal game. He reacted poorly to a questionable call and threw a ball, for which the referee ejected him. A CONCACAF committee decided late Friday night that Klinsmann would not be allowed to coach the USMNT in the final. Assistant Martin Vasquez will take his place.
Match date/time: Sunday, 4 p.m. ET
Venue: Soldier Field, Chicago, Ill.
TV: FOX (U.S. - English), Univision (U.S. - Spanish), Sportsnet World (Canada), ESPN (U.K.)
Online: FOX Soccer 2 Go (English)