Tired, but pleased, Panama looks to future
Panama’s Gabriel Torres (#9) scored two goals in the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup. (Photo: AFP Services)

PHILADELPHIA – Losing to Costa Rica 1-0 in the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals was painful to Panama, especially the way it was eliminated. 

An Anibal Godoy own-goal in the 77th minute at Lincoln Financial Field meant the Canaleros would miss out on the semifinals for the first time since 2009.

“This is hard, it’s very hard because everyone comes here with the intention of winning,” said Panama head coach Hernan Dario Gomez.  “We were at a good level and played well.  We didn’t play pretty, but we did play well against a very well-organized, experienced and capable team.  They weren’t superior and we weren’t superior either.  It does hurt.”

While Costa Rica goes on to play the United States in the semifinals in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday, Panama is left to reflect on its Gold Cup experience.  For Gomez, it was positive in every respect.

“Panama did a very good job against a very high-quality opponent,” Gomez expressed.  “For Panama, this is very good.  Today, both teams were tired.  I could see the tiredness in both teams and we had to make some changes because of injuries.  But I like Panama and its work.”

It was not an easy tournament for Panama, which rallied from deficits twice in the group stage to earn results against the U.S. (1-1 draw) and Nicaragua (2-1 win), before a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Martinique to finish second on goals scored to the Americans in Group B.

Along the way, Gomez showed the future of Panamanian football is strong, with quality performances from midfielder Miguel Camargo (23-years-old, New York City FC), forward Ismael Diaz (20, Porto), as well as defenders Michael Murillo (21, New York Red Bulls) and Roberto Chen (23, Arabe Unido).

“It’s very important these guys go back to their clubs and play,” Gomez said.  “This tournament is stressful.  It’s tense and it’s exhausting.  I’m sure their managers are going to bring them back to life and some of them are going to be with new clubs.”

And then, Gomez said, the team will regroup and play important World Cup qualifying matches against Mexico and Trinidad & Tobago in September.

“There are some other young guys who have more experience in these type of games,” Gomez said. “We’ll have the best team for what’s to come.”