CHICAGO — Juergen Klinsmann said there was no team better than the United States in the last month of the
The Americans showed their coach exactly why Sunday in the final.
The U.S. didn't allow a single shot on goal and picked up the game's lone score on an opportunistic shot by midfielder Brek Shea in the 68th minute.
The 1-0 victory over Panama gave the U.S. its fifth Gold Cup championship.
"You want to win it in a way that you feel you deserve it," said Klinsmann, who watched the game from a Solder Field luxury suite while serving a suspension. "This group, this team really deserves the trophy. There's absolutely no doubt."
The win — in front of an announced crowd of 57,920 — extended the Americans' winning streak to 11 games, four more than their previous best in 2007 when they last won the Gold Cup.
Shea entered in the 67th minute and within 42 seconds scored on a rebound. The original shot by Alejandro Bedoya came from outside the box, sailed past teammate Landon Donovan and was partly deflected by Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo.
The ball dribbled to Penedo's right, giving Shea an open try. Donovan was originally credited with an assist, but officials switched it to Bedoya after postgame clarification.
"Alejandro cut into his left foot, and kind of like we've been doing all tournament, when someone lines up to hit a cross, you want to put yourself in a good spot," Donovan said. "I think it deflected off their defender, rolled in front of me. I took a mighty swing at it and missed, but it was enough to throw the goalie off and it was a tap-in for Brek."
Shea's goal was the ninth scored in Gold Cup play against Panama, all coming in the second half of play.
"It doesn't matter who scored today," Shea said. "We won. We put in the work the whole month and it's the whole team."
Panama, which struggled to mount much offense, unsuccessfully tried to push the game in the late going and through four minutes of stoppage time.
"At halftime there was a lot of positive reinforcement and we had a great attitude," said Panama Coach Julio Dely Valdes. "We were asked to do a lot in this game. As I said all along, it could come down to one play in the game."
The U.S. missed a chance to double the lead in the 83rd minute when Shea crossed to a sprinting Eddie Johnson, whose shot went over the net.
U.S. midfielder Stuart Holden suffered a strained right knee in the 17th minute and departed. Klinsmann said the injury appeared serious but further testing will indicate the severity.
Klinsmann was serving a one-game suspension after his ejection Wednesday from a semifinal victory against Honduras. U.S. assistants Andreas Herzog and Martin Vasquez were designated as co-coaches.
"Watching the game from the [luxury suite] was horrible," Klinsmann said. "I even hit a TV at one point."