Panama's Luis Tejada (pictured) reacts after scoring against Honduras in a CONCACAF Gold Cup match on July 10, 2015, in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo: Mexsport)
FOXBOROUGH, Massachusetts – Panama head coach Hernan Dario Gomez is noticing a trend in his team and it’s not one that he likes.
For a second consecutive match, Panama gave up a late goal and settled for a share of the points. First, it was an 86th mintue equalizer by Haiti’s Duckens Nazon on Tuesday in Frisco, Texas, and, on Friday night, Andy Najar scored the tying goal for Honduras in the 81st minute of another 1-1 draw at Gillette Stadium.
“It’s true. We’ve been asking this question in Panama for a long time and it happened again,” Gomez said. “The game was hard. We fought, but at the end we gave up this goal.”
U.S. clinches top of group, but not finished
The United States became the first team to book a berth in the quarterfinals following a difficult 1-0 win over Haiti on Friday, but that doesn’t mean coach Jürgen Klinsmann intends to take it easy for the final group stage match Monday against Panama.
“It’s a nice feeling knowing we’re already first, but it doesn’t mean we’re slowing down now,” he said. “It should be actually the opposite, keep kind of raising the bar.”
While there’s a strong likelihood of lineup changes, Klinsmann believes the United States has a responsibility to play to win that game.
“The approach is picking up more rhythm, playing for another three points, finishing off the group with three wins. We take that very seriously,” stressed the 50-year-old. “We also know we have an influence on who is going through, so we are not taking the foot off the pedal there.”
No moral victory for Haiti
While Klinsmann heaped on the praise for the way Haiti played on Friday night, Les Grenadiers head coach Marc Collat left Gillette Stadium disappointed with a 1-0 loss against the five-time champion.
“It’s been a good performance, but in the end we lost the match,” Collat said. “We’ve put a lot of effort and energy into this match. Now what we have to do is recover, recuperate and think about the next match.”
Quote of the nightPanama head coach Hernan Dario Gomez on his team’s mentality vs. United States: “It won’t be an easy game against the United States, but I’m not scared of it. I look forward to it. It’s different from how I felt after the Haiti match. After the Haiti match I felt sad we didn’t get the result, but today we were just mad. Panama will fight to the finish here. Be assured of that.