Gold Cup Semifinals: Fantastic Five

Mexico's Giovani dos Santos (left) and Guillermo Franco (right) celebrate after scoring against Costa Rica in a CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal on July 23, 2009, in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo: Mexsport)

ATLANTA -- With the defending champion United States, Jamaica, Mexico and Panama are preparing for the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals at the Georgia Dome on Wednesday, offers a selection of five of the most memorable final-four matches – by date order -- from the past 12 editions of the competition. 

July 5, 1991 (Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum – Los Angeles, California, USA)

United States 2, Mexico 0 

A year after playing in its first World Cup in 40 years, the United States took the next step in its football development by winning the first-ever Gold Cup. It stunned favored Mexico in the semifinals, 2-0, on goals by defender John Doyle (48’) and forward Peter Vermes (64’), while goalkeeper Tony Meola – the tournament’s eventual MVP -- recorded the shutout. The Americans overcame Honduras in the final on penalty kicks after a scoreless draw. 


February 10, 1998 (Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum – Los Angeles, California, USA)

United States 1, Brazil 0 

Kasey Keller made 10 saves, many spectacular, as the Americans defeated reigning FIFA World Cup champion Brazil for the first time. Romario, the 1994 World Cup Golden Ball winner, was denied three times by Keller, compelling the Brazil legend to offer his congratulations after the match and calling the performance, the greatest “I have ever seen by a goalkeeper.” Preki Radosavljevic came off the bench to provide the winner for the second time in three days, scoring off a 22-yard shot in the 65th minute. The U.S. lost in the final, 1-0, to Mexico. 


July 21, 2005 (Giants Stadium – East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA)

Honduras 1, United States 2 

Honduras was ahead 1-0 -- thanks to a first-half goal by Mario Ivan Guerrero (30') -- and minutes away from an upset, when the Americans’ John O’Brien capitalized on a mistake by Erick Vallecillo (now 35-years-old) to equalize in the 86th minute. Then, two minutes into stoppage time, Oguchi Onyewu headed in Landon Donovan's 30-yard free kick for the winner. U.S. head coach Bruce Arena was dismissed in the 59th minute, missing the final that his team captured on penalty kicks over Panama after a scoreless draw. 


July 23, 2009 (Soldier Field – Chicago, Illinois, USA)

Costa Rica 1, Mexico 1 (3:5 penalties) 

Before the Mexicans upended the United States 5-0 in the final, they had to get past Costa Rica in a dramatic semifinal. Guillermo Franco put the Tricolor ahead 1-0 in the 88th minute. Three minutes into stoppage time, though, Froylan Ledezma equalized for the Central Americans with the only Gold Cup goal of his career. In a turn of events, Ledezma's hero status dipped in the penalty-kick shootout as result of being the only Tico to miss his attempt. Franco, Giovani dos Santos, Gerardo Torrado and Efrain Juarez converted their attempts Mexico, before Carlos Vela tallied the clincher. 


July 24, 2013 (Cowboys Stadium – Arlington, Texas, USA)

Panama 2, Mexico 1 

Mexico lost for only the second time in nine Gold Cup semifinal matches, falling to its 2013 nemesis Panama, 2-1. The Canaleros also defeated the six-time champion by the same result more than two weeks earlier in the group stage. Blas Perez gave Panama a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute, before Luis Montes equalized in the 26th minute. Ramon Torres struck for the game-winner in the 61st minute. The Panamanians eventually lost in the final to the United States, 1-0.