Gold Cup: United States reach semis

Landon Donovan and Carlos Bocanegra scored second-half goals, and the United States survived some sloppy defense late in the game to beat Panama 2-1.

updated: June 18, 2007 12:09 IST
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Landon Donovan and Carlos Bocanegra scored second-half goals, and the United States survived some sloppy defense late in the game to beat Panama 2-1 on Saturday and advance to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

The defending champion Americans, who jumped from 29th to 16th in the latest FIFA rankings, play Canada on Thursday in Chicago for a berth in the final. Canada defeated Guatemala 3-0 in the opener of Saturday's doubleheader.

Blas Perez scored in the 84th minute for 57th-ranked Panama, which lost to the United States on penalty kicks in the 2005 final of the Gold Cup. Perez's goal was the first allowed by the United States in four games in this year's tournament.

"They scored and made the last two minutes crazy," US coach Bob Bradley said. "That's something we certainly will talk about."

Mexico meet Costa Rica

In Sunday's quarterfinals at Houston, Honduras plays Guadaloupe and Mexico meets Costa Rica.

Donovan scored in the 60th minute, converting a penalty kick for the second time in two games, and Carlos Bocanegra made it 2-0 in the 62nd with a header off DaMarcus Beasley's free kick.

The United States was awarded the penalty kick when Carlos Rivera ran over Donovan from behind and wrapped his arms around him in the penalty area. Donovan scored on a soft, low shot to the right as goalkeeper Jaime Penedo went in the other direction.

With 32 goals, Donovan moved within two of Eric Wynalda's US career record. It was the 10th Gold Cup goal for Donovan, who moved ahead of Wynalda into second place in the tournament's history, two behind Mexico's Luis Roberto Alves.

"I don't want to downplay it because, obviously, it's cool," Donovan said, "but in the context of what's going on with the team, it pales in comparison."

The United States, seeking its fourth Gold Cup title, won its eighth match and remained unbeaten in nine since Bob Bradley took over as coach from Bruce Arena. The Gold Cup winner qualifies for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa.

The US team missed several good scoring opportunities in the first half. Taylor Twellman shot wide in the 25th minute, headed a corner kick from Donovan over the crossbar in the 26th, then sent a shot from just inside the 18-yard line that hit Clint Dempsey, who was in front of him, in the 38th.

Panama was without regular starters Roman Torres and Rolando Escobar, who were ejected from Wednesday's 1-0 loss to Mexico. Perez was surrounded by three defenders when a ball squirted free at the top of the penalty area.

With the three American defenders blocking each other, Perez stepped around them and easily beat US goalkeeper Tim Howard with a hard, strike low into the corner.

Panama coach Alexandre Guimaraes complained about referee Neil Brizan of Trinidad and Tobago.

"He called the penalty against us 30 meters away from the play," Guimaraes said. "We had two very clear occasions, especially at the end of the game (when) there was a hand ball" by the United States, but no call was made.