Los Angeles Soccer: Ali Gerba
A stunning result in Tampa left the U.S. uncertain of reaching the CONCACAF Gold Cup's knockout stage, although it would require an upset more shocking than Panama's 2-1 decision Saturday -- and that's just a start.
The Canaleros scored twice in the first half, the second on a penalty kick, then held on as the U.S. applied heavy pressure the final 45 minutes of the showdown for the Group C lead, halving the deficit through a Clarence Goodson header.
It was the first victory by Panama in nine meetings with the U.S., which had ended the Central Americans' runs in the previous three Gold Cups and had never lost during the group stage in the first 10 tournaments. The teams could meet again in the June 22 semifinals in Houston.
Panama clinched a quarterfinal berth with the victory, and the U.S. almost certainly will join them in the knockout rounds, but if four matches go the wrong way, the Yanks will be finished.
Three of those results -- El Salvador over Cuba in Group A, Guatemala over Grenada in Group B, and Canada tying or beating Panama -- are well within reason. The fourth: Winless Guadeloupe beating the U.S. in Tuesday's Group C finale in Kansas City.
Canada commands its Gold Cup destiny after a 1-0 decision over Guadeloupe on a Dwayne De Rosario penalty kick.
A quick look at the seventh day of group play in the region's nations championship:
YANKS FALL: Second-year pro Tim Ream, thought to be the future at center back for the U.S., endured a first-half nightmare that probably cost the Americans a shot at the Group C title.
Ream lost track of Luis Tejada, who finished Armando Cooper's header from a superb Gabriel Gomez cross to provide Panama a 19th-minute advantage, and brought down Blas Perez in the box to set up Gomez's 36th-minute penalty kick.