Action from the World Cup qualifier between host Panama (red) and the United States on October 15, 2013, at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City. (Photo: Michael Janosz/isiphotos.com)
PANAMA CITY, Panama – Dropping a 1-0 decision to the United States in July’s CONCACAF Gold Cup final was understandably hard for Panama to accept, especially after the commitment it demonstrated throughout the competition.
Less than three months later, another one-goal setback against the Americans deprived the Canaleros of an opportunity to qualify for their first World Cup finals.
Stoppage time goals by Graham Zusi and Aron Johannsson lifted the U.S. to a dramatic win, denying Panama an Intercontinental Playoff meeting with New Zealand.
After Tuesday’s match, Panama head coach Julio Dely Valdes stated that he did not want his players to shoulder any blame for the defeat.
“I cannot believe what has happened,” said the 46-year-old. “I feel like I am the only one responsible for this. The players should not feel at fault.”
U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann expressed his sympathy for the Panamanian team.
''It shows you how brutal football can be,” said the former Germany star and head coach. "It shows you how brutal football can be for one side that is almost there. But we were here to give everything.
''Now obviously you feel for the people. You feel for an entire country.”