(Reuters) – The United States capped off a dominant tournament performance with a hard-earned 1-0 victory over Panama on Sunday to capture the CONCACAF Gold Cup championship.
Brek Shea broke through with a goal in the 69th minute and the U.S. won their first Gold Cup title since 2007, erasing a pair of title match defeats to Mexico in their previous two final appearances.
The triumph was the 11th consecutive overall for the Americans, and came without manager Juergen Klinsmann who was serving a one-game suspension after being ejected in the semi-finals.
The U.S. entered the final having defeated their tournament opponents by a combined 19-4, but Panama provided no easy path to the trophy and kept the pro-American crowd antsy early at Soldier Field in Chicago.
After eliminating Mexico in the semi-finals, the Panamanians arrived in the title game eager to avenge their loss to the Americans in the 2005 Gold Cup final.
Despite ceding much of the possessions to the home team, Panama were able to neutralize the U.S. for the majority of the match even without injured defender Felipe Baloy.
That all changed in the 69th minute, when the active Landon Donovan set up the game-winner for Shea.
It was a most rewarding tournament for Donovan, who took a four-month sabbatical around the start of the year but has played himself back into form and the good graces of Klinsmann.
Donovan finished the Gold Cup with five goals to tie team mate Chris Wondolowski and Panama’s Gabriel Torres for the tournament lead.
(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles,; Editing by Gene Cherry)