Klinsmann's job safe after US debacle in Gold Cup

PHILADELPHIA • Juergen Klinsmann still is not sure how his US team, who beat the Dutch and Germans last month, finished fourth in the Gold Cup after two embarrassing defeats.

But after Panama beat the Americans 3-2 on penalty kicks on Saturday after a 1-1 draw to take third place in the biennial North American regional football tournament, the former German star vowed his team would bounce back.

"We could have won this tournament. We didn't," he said.

"We will take our lessons from this, analyse it and talk to the players. This is a work in progress."

Perhaps even more damning for the Americans was the fact that Panama were not even at full strength.

Coach Hernan Gomez had to make do without five first-team players because of either suspensions or injuries.

After the game, US Soccer president Sunil Gulati told reporters that he would not "make a change".

Previous national coach Bob Bradley lost his job after losing the 2011 Gold Cup final to Mexico.

For now, at least, Klinsmann's job appears to be safe.

Just four days earlier, Jamaica stunned the Americans 2-1 in the semi-final. The "Reggae Boyz," who met six-time champions Mexico in yesterday's Gold Cup final, were 1-13 with eight draws in prior matches against the Americans.

It was the US' first home loss to a Caribbean side since falling to Haiti in 1969.

Panama, who are now 1-12 with four draws against the US, completed the humiliation with their shoot-out win.

The US' fourth-place finish marks their second-worst result in the Gold Cup after a 2000 quarter-final loss to Colombia.

"We learn from the negatives, take the positives and move on," US striker DeAndre Yedlin said.

Panama won with starting goalkeeper Jaime Penedo and top scorer Luis Tejada suspended after angry actions in a controversial 1-2 semi-final loss to Mexico.

"It was important to get this result," said Gomez.

"It was hard on the group. There is no such thing as a moral victory. We were ready to hoist the trophy.

"This is a good Gold Cup for Panama. They played with a lot of skill and are playing well going into World Cup qualifying.

"My goal is still to take this group to the World Cup and we made some steps in that direction."

Panama took a 1-0 lead only to surrender the next goal in the second half for the sixth match in a row.

Roberto Nurse struck in the 55th minute but Clint Dempsey pulled the hosts level in the 70th.

Extra time saw no scoring.

With Penedo out, it was reserve goalkeeper Luis Mejia who denied the last three US shooters in the penalties showdown to win for Panama. AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2015, with the headline 'Klinsmann's job safe after US debacle in Gold Cup'. Print Edition | Subscribe