Mexico hunt 9th title; having beaten the US, Panama look to continue reordering of Concacaf’s elite

July 14 – With the dust settling around the semi-finals and the US loss to Panama in the penalty shoot-out in San Diego, attention is switching to 100 miles up the road and the magnificent SoFi stadium where Panama will meet Mexico.

In June Panama and Mexico met in the third-place play-off in the Nations League with the Mexicans winning 1-0.

Since then both teams have played five matches to get to the Gold Cup final, and both teams are very much advanced in terms of performance than the two that met in Las Vegas.

At the Nations League finals Mexico had a torrid time against the US, losing 3-0 and unconvincingly beating Panama. Those results prompted an immediate change of manager and Jaime Lozano was given the reins in an interim role. While the players are the same, the results have been very different.

Mexico reached the final after finishing top of Group B, beating Honduras 4-0 and Haiti 3-1 before narrowly falling to Qatar 1-0 in their group stage finale. Mexico rebounded in the knockout stage, with a 2-0 quarterfinal win over Costa Rica and a 3-0 triumph over Jamaica in Las Vegas in the semi-finals.

Mexico have qualified for the Gold Cup Final 11 times and are looking for their ninth title.

Panama have also been improving with every game since the Nations League finals. Under coach Thomas Christiansen they have shown the ability to shape-shift their formation and stretch defences, as well as playing directly when required. They have been driven on in midfield by the MLS pair of Houston Dynamo’s Adalberto Carrasquilla and Nashville’s Anibal Godoy.

Panama topped Group C, beating Costa Rica and Martinique 2-1 before a 2-2 draw against El Salvador. They then had a commanding 4-0 quarterfinal win against Qatar and beat the United States 5-4 in a penalty shootout in the semi-finals in San Diego.

This will be Panama’s third Gold Cup Final (first since 2013) and their first title if they win. In the 2005 f­­inal they lost 3-1 in a penalty shootout to the U.S. after a 0-0 draw. Eight years later, in 2013, they lost again to the US 1-0.

The 2019 and 2021 finals were both competed between Mexico and the US. Mexico won in 2019 and the US in 2021. Panama, who narrowly lost out on World Cup 2022 qualification to Costa Rica, have since established themselves as the leading side in Central America. They now are knocking on the door of being the leading side in the shole of Concacaf.

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1720825023labto1720825023ofdlr1720825023owedi1720825023sni@n1720825023osloh1720825023cin.l1720825023uap1720825023

Trinidad and Tobago1024103
St Kitts and Nevis0030130
Costa Rica111764
El Salvador011342

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