Unsurprisingly, both the United States and Panama meet in the Concacaf Gold Cup semifinal on Wednesday evening. It’s not surprising because between 2005 and 2019, USA has played Panama a total of nine times at all eight Gold Cups. Two of those games were in the final which the US both won (2005 and 2013). Looking ahead to the USA vs Panama preview, the next chapter between these two turns to San Diego, California.

US survives against Canada

To make it to the semifinal, the US had to endure a heavy slog against Canada that went all the way to penalty kicks after extra time. Just after the game started, things got weird when the assistant referee got hit in the face with a ball from point-blank range, breaking his nose.

The first half that followed was mostly dull save for the whopping 10 minutes of added time, mostly due to the injury to the assistant referee.

The second half wasn’t much better save for a few decent saves from Canadian goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair. The last ten minutes of the game is when both teams finally decided to start playing, and the US duly took the lead in the 87th minute through Brandon Vazquez.

Just moments later though, Canada was able to equalize on a penalty kick, conceded after Miles Robinson handled the ball in the penalty area (the second time in the game he had done so).

In extra time, Canada thought they had it won after Nashville SC’s Jacob Shaffelburg put them in front just ten minute from time. But Matt Turner played in a great ball to the box and after several deflections, the ball found its way past St. Clair into the back of the net for a 2-2 scoreline.

Penalties got off to a bizarre start as Matt Turner was not happy with the coin toss procedure. And then each set of players decided that standing at midfield for the taking of kicks somehow did not apply to them. But in the end, Turner came up big for the US, saving the first two Canada penalties and forcing a miss on the fifth one.

USA vs Panama preview: Panama’s path to the semifinal

Panama made it to the semifinal in relatively easy fashion. They finished top of Group C with seven points. They opened with a 2-1 win over Costa Rica. That win was followed by a 2-1 win over Martinique. Panama closed the Group Stage with a 2-2 draw against El Salvador.

In the quarter-final, they made short work of a Qatar team playing in their second consecutive Gold Cup. Ismael Diaz notched a second half hat trick helping Los Canaleros to a 4-0 win over the 2022 World Cup hosts.

Panama coach Thomas Christiansen has had an interesting managerial career. He has had two stops at clubs in Cyprus as well as a 35-game stint at Leeds United. Prior to taking the Panama job, he managed Union SG in Belgium.

The Panama roster called in by Christiansen is one of the most experienced at this Gold Cup. Seven of the players have over 50 caps, with Alberto Quintero topping out at 129 international appearances.

Other notes:

Wednesday’s game against Panama is set for a 7:30pm ET kickoff from Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego. The game will air on FS1 in English and on Univision and TUDN in Spanish. All of the broadcasts are available via Fubo with a free 7-day trial.

This game marks the first USMNT appearance in San Diego since a 2017 friendly against Serbia.

Despite the sheer number of Gold Cup meetings between the two, this is the first time the US and Panama have faced each other since a friendly in Austria in 2020.

Photo credit: IMAGO & Agencia-MexSport