Saturday, June 16, 2007

GC Obit: Panama

After reaching the Gold Cup final in 2005, Panama fell short of equaling their effort from last Gold Cup and fell to the United States 2-1 in a quarterfinal match on Saturday. Panama refused to give up, though, and were pressuring the U.S. goal steadily the last quarter-hour of the match.

Panama looks poised to be a tricky if not dangerous side come World Cup qualifying but while the '05 showed promise, it hardly delivered in the hexagonal. The U.S., for instance, handled Panama twice, 3-0 in Panama and 2-0 here when all was said and done.

The canaleros have some strong players to build around such as Blas Perez (Cucuta, Colombia), Jaime Penedo (Osasuna, Spain) and Felipe Baloy (Monterrey, Mexico). Like Guatemala, the key for Panama is the coach. Alexandre Guimaraes led Costa Rica to the last two World Cups, the first time ever that Costa Rica qualified for two consecutive World Cup finals.

Like Guatemalan counterpart Hernan Dario Gomez, Guimaraes needs to prepare the squad the best way possible before World Cup qualifying starts. The players showed some strong physical characteristics during their participation in the tournament and played hard against the U.S. in the quarterfinal. Another run to the final could have benefited Panama tremendously for it would have given this team a chance to compete in high-pressure situations but that was not meant to be.

If Panama reaches the hexagonal in 2009, it will have been because of a strong and focused effort from this point forward. If not, the team will have wasted the small steps Panama has taken since 2004.


degerron said...

That was a really physical match. Lots of cheap shots on the part of Panama. They really tried to get under the skin of the Yanks. Whats was up with all the poor finishing by the US? LD missed one or two opportunities. Dempsey had the ball placed right to him in front fo the goal. Twellman and Beasley had several chances that they have got to finish if the US is going to win this thing. The score should have been 5-1. An whats up with Bradley's sub strategy? 7 mintues in regulation with 2 defenders carrying yellow cards and Bradley subs in Ching? Hey Dude was aweful. The guy kept getting burnt by Panama's forwards all game long. Gooch was better but got away with a few fouls near the end of the game. My 2 cents.

L.B. said...

Yeah, I agree with some of your complaints. I was surprised to see Ching go in there. Especially with such a physical game, you'd think he'd err on the side of caution and take out one of the defenders on yellow.

I think the U.S. in some ways got lucky that Panama's finishing wasn't solid but the U.S. also did well to avoid altercations and such as I think Panama may have tried to dupe the US into some fights and such.

The finishing has to improve, though, plain and simple. Otherwise, Canada's going to play in the final.

degerron said...

Oh yeah Panama's captain pushing over Gooch in the penalty box during the first half was a straight up dupe. At least Gooch got smart this time and started hitting the ground as if he was the one getting pushed around. I don't understand that much spanish but even I could tell that the Univision announcers were shocked that Hejduk and Gooch were still in the game and that Gooch was lucky not get another yellow card. If only Panama could learn to shoot straight like that last goal they had they could be a real beast come WC qualifying.

So whats up with this rumor of Donovan being traded for Carlos Ruiz? Any truth to that? Shepp Messing stated in the Red Bulls halftime that Donovan is saying no.

L.B. said...

I think that's just speculation over the Galaxy's possible difficulty in acquiring a second DP slot for him. There is still plenty of time before the Galaxy needs to get another slot for Landon and trading him would be last resort.

Otherwise, I don't see Landon going anywhere.

Anonymous said...

"canaleros"??????? As an expat living in Panama, I wanted nothing more than the US to golear Panama by 5 or 6. I was really embarrassed by our play. And Gooch getting pushed around by guys half his size is completely ridiculous. Panama TV announcers considered the result a victory for the national side since the game was close and Panama left the field having performed better in the closing minutes.

It is really shameful since about half of the Panamanian team plays for what amounts to a semi-pro national league, about the level of DIV III college ball. Remember, baseball, not soccer is the national sport here.

BTW, I've never heard the Panamanian team called the "canaleros", which isn't surprising because the canal was under US control up until 8 years ago...they have ads on TV reminding Panama that it really, really is their canal now. The team is referred to here as the "marea roja" tide.