The U.S. men's national team not only fell short of the winner's podium at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, it fell short of the third-place podium as well.
Panama downed the U.S. in penalties (3-2) after the two played to a 1-1 draw at PPL Park on Saturday, claiming third place and relegating the USA to its worst Gold Cup finish in 15 years.
DaMarcus Beasley, thought to be making his final appearance in a U.S. shirt, had the decisive penalty saved by Luis Mejia after Fabian Johnson had fired high and Michael Bradley also had one saved. Aron Johannsson and Clint Dempsey had made the USA's first two penalties prior to Johnson's miss.
Brad Guzan made up for Johnson's effort with a save on Armando Cooper's effort, which was Panama's third kick, but the U.S. failed to take advantage of that in its first penalty shootout in 10 years. The last time the Americans had gone to penalties was against Panama in the 2005 Gold Cup final.
Panama, which played to a 1-1 draw after regulation in all of its Gold Cup matches, controlled most of the action in the first half and had its effort pay off in the 55th minute through Roberto Nurse. He was played down the center, cut back on John Brooks and Tim Ream and had plenty of time in the U.S. box to set up and curl a low left-footed shot by Guzan to give Panama a 1-0 lead.
The USA answered 15 minutes later, though. Dempsey scored his tournament-leading seventh goal, but it was DeAndre Yedlin who did the heavy lifting. Acting as if he were a target forward, Yedlin won an aerial ball at the edge of the Panama box and fended off defenders to maintain control. He looked behind him to see Dempsey making a trailing run, and with Panama goalkeeper Mejia–playing in place of the suspended Jaime Penedo–off his line, Dempsey finished into an empty net.
Guzan came up huge in the 81st minute to keep the Americans level. Ronaldo Blackburn had a point blank header opportunity after a cross from the left, but Guzan went full-extension to his left to make the initial stop and got on the ground to claw a mini rebound from crossing the line.
The U.S. also benefited from a pair of goal-line clearances by outfield players, as Ream and Johnson each made saves to prevent Panama from nudging in front.
The U.S. awaits the result of Sunday's final to learn who it will play in an October 9 playoff for CONCACAF's 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup berth.
Here's how the third-place game unfolded:
GOALKEEPERS: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake), William Yarbrough (Club Leon)
DEFENDERS: Ventura Alvarado (Club America), DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Tim Ream (Bolton Wanderers)
MIDFIELDERS: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Joe Corona (Veracruz), Mix Diskerud (New York City FC), DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham Hotspur), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS: Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Alan Gordon (LA Galaxy), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
GOALKEEPERS: Jose Calderon (Coatepeque); Luis Mejia (CA Fenix); Jaime Penedo (LA Galaxy)
DEFENDERS: Harold Cummings (Independiente Santa Fe); Erick Davis (Sporting San Miguelito); Luis Henriquez (Lech Poznan); Adolfo Machado (Saprissa); Angel Patrick (Arabe Unido); Roman Torres (Millonarios)
MIDFIELDERS: Miguel Camargo (Chorrillo FC); Armando Cooper (FC St. Pauli); Anibal Godoy (Budapest Honved); Gabriel Gomez (Herediano); Valentin Pimentel (Plaza Amador); Darwin Pinzon (Sporting San Miguelito); Alberto Quintero (Lobos BUAP); Alfredo Stephens (Chorrillo FC)
FORWARDS: Abdiel Arroyo (Arabe Unido); Rolando Blackburn (Comunicaciones); Roberto Nurse (Dorados Sinaloa); Blas Perez (FC Dallas); Luis Tejada (Juan Aurich); Gabriel Torres (Colorado Rapids)