The Gold Cup Final is Set; Panama takes on Mexico

Tonight, a team punching above their weight and a giant of Concacaf will square off! Panama has looked like the best team at this tournament, and Mexico has looked reinvigorated; now they will play each other with the Gold Cup trophy on the line. Who will hoist this coveted regional trophy?

Gold Cup
CHICAGO, IL – JULY 07: A detail view of the 2019 Gold Cup Trophy is seen after the CONCACAF Gold Cup final match between the United States and Mexico on July 07, 2019, at Soldier Field in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire)

Panama and Mexico play to be Champions of Concacaf

To get to this point, both Panama and Mexico won their respective groups in the group stage and won in the quarterfinal and semifinals.

Panama has been the best team in this tournament. Their mixture of up-and-coming players and savvy veterans. They have dominated teams scoring 11 goals and conceded five; winning three and drawing two matches, including beating reigning champions USA on penalties.

Mexico has had a turbulent journey to this Gold Cup. They have fired two coaches since the World Cup last December. Mexico put all of that behind them in their first match at this Gold Cup scoring in the first minute. This team has looked like the Mexico of old scoring 12 goals and letting in just two. Will they be able to win their ninth Gold Cup, or will Panama win their first?

Gold Cup
U.S. forward Jesús Ferreira, center, reacts to a missed opportunity to score during the second half of a CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal soccer match against Panama, Wednesday, July 12, 2023, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Panama took out the USA, sights are set on Mexico

Coming off of a quarterfinal blowout win over Qatar where they scored four goals, Panama knew they had to take on the USA. The Panamanians played a great game against the last Gold Cup champions in the semifinal round. The match was tied 0-0 after 90 minutes, but things blew up a bit afterward.

After playing 99 minutes of back-and-forth soccer, Panama found the opening goal. A nice sequence found Ivan Anderson who put home the goal. It looked like Panama had found a way to win the match outright in extra time. Then the USA equalized with a beautiful volley from Jesus Ferreira in the 105th minute. Then things went to penalties.

Panama converted five of six shots, while the USA missed their first shot and their sixth shot. Panama advanced after the penalty shootout to take on the giant’s Mexico who have won the most Gold Cup’s ever.

Gold Cup
Players for Panama look on during the penalty shootout of a CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal soccer match against the United States, Wednesday, July 12, 2023, in San Diego. Panama won 5-4 in a shootout after a 1-1 tie. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Mexico blasted Jamaica and will play for chance to win 9th Gold Cup

Mexico was able to glide past Costa Rica 2-0 in the quarterfinal round of the Gold Cup. It took a bit of time, but two second-half goals helped the Mexicans make the semifinals. In the semifinals, Mexico faced the dark horse of the tournament Jamaica.

As has been the case for Mexico at this tournament, they found a way to score early. Henry Martin scored in the 2nd minute of the game to stun Jamaica. Luis Chavez added a brilliant free-kick goal in the 30th minute to effectively end the match.

The second half of the semifinal was mostly uneventful until Mexico added a third goal in second-half stoppage time. They are now on to play in the Gold Cup Final, looking to win their ninth championship. Can they beat a strong Panama team looking to win their first-ever Gold Cup?

Gold Cup
FILE -Mexico poses for a team photo before a CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer quarterfinal against Costa Rica, Saturday, July 8, 2023, in Arlington, Texas. The game is not going to be against the rival Mexico expected, but seven and a half months after the country’s worst performance in a World Cup in 44 years, Mexico will seek to restore a bit of its tarnished image when it plays the surprising Panama in the Gold Cup final on Sunday, July 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Sam Hodde, File)

Who will take home the 2023 Gold Cup?

Panama and Mexico played just about a month ago in the Concacaf Nations League semifinals. Mexico scored early in the fourth minute of the game, which was the only thing to separate the sides. Could this same thing happen in the Gold Cup final, or will Panama put up more of a fight?

Panama has been a team possessed in this Gold Cup. They have so much to play for, and Mexico is still a little shaky. These two teams are on a collision course in a match that will be very chippy. The longer Panama can keep the match tied, the better their chances are of hoisting the Gold Cup. If Mexico scores one of their patented early goals, then they might just win their ninth Gold Cup!

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Mandatory Credit: Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire, AP Photo/Gregory Bull, AP Photo/Sam Hodde