Mexico vs Panama: Gold Cup 2015, Schedule, Predictions, Rosters, Stream & Preview
Mexico and Panama will square off in a winner-takes-all showdown in the Gold Cup semifinals. The winner of this game will advance to the championship game and play the winner of the United States vs. Jamaica game.
There's so much on the line in this contest. It promises to be a must watch game for any soccer fan.
What a wild ride it has been for Mexico so far. They're the most successful team in Gold Cup history with six championships, but they aren't at full strength. Javier Hernandez is out because of a collarbone injury, and Giovani dos Santos has been battling a leg injury himself. Santos played in the quarterfinals against Costa Rica, but wasn't 100 percent healthy.
Mexico defeated Costa Rica 1-0 in the quarterfinals thanks to a penalty kick made by team captain Andrés Guardado. That came after Carlos Vela missed two golden opportunities to score and end the game in regulation. Guillermo Ochoa will be starting in net once again for Mexico. Ochoa has earned a clean sheet in three of his four games thus far. The only game where he conceded a goal was against Trinidad and Tobago, which ended in a 4-4 draw.
While Mexico is favored to win this game, their fans know full and well what Panama is made of. Panama beat Mexico in group play in 2013, and later eliminated them in the semifinals. The biggest X factor in this game for Mexico will be home-field advantage. Mexico has had a tremendous amount of support from their fans throughout the Gold Cup.
Just like Mexico, Panama didn't win their group either. As a matter of fact, Panama placed third in Group A behind the United States and Haiti. Regardless of rankings, seedings or group play, Panama is here and they mean business.
Panama defeated and eliminated Trinidad and Tobago in the semifinals in a thrilling game that went to a shootout. They eventually won on penalty kicks in the ninth round thanks Valentín Pimentel's goal. Panama has never won this tournament before having placed second in 2005 and 2013. They also finished third in 2011.
Panama has a very balanced squad. Jaime Penedo will be starting in goal while team captain Román Torres leads the defense. Gabriel Gómez, Alberto Quintero and Armando Cooper create a very good middle field that may give Mexico some problems. Blas Pérez and Luis Tejada will have to find a way to penetrate Mexico's strong defense led by Francisco Javier Rodríguez.
If Panama does go on to win this game, and the U.S. goes on to beat Jamaica, that means that we will have a rematch of the Gold Cup finals.
Schedule, Where to Watch
Mexico and Panama will play each other on Wednesday, July 22 at 9 p.m. EST at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia. The game will be shown on Fox Sports 2. You can watch a live game stream here.
This should be a really close low scoring game. Mexico is favored, but Panama had their number last time in the Gold Cup. Panama is the more balanced team, but Mexico has the superstar factor on their side. Once again it will be up to Guardado to come through for Mexico.
Mexico wins 1-0
Follow Damon Salvadore on Twitter @DamonSalvadore1
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