CHICAGO -- Brek Shea wasted no time giving the U.S. men’s soccer team it’s biggest lift on Sunday.
The backup midfielder entered the CONCACAF Gold Cup championship game at Soldier Field in the 68th minute and 42 seconds later to break a soreless tie.
Panama failed to answer and the U.S. secured a 1-0 triumph and its fifth Gold Cup championship in front of a largely pro-USA crowd announced at 57,920.
The victory extended the Americans’ winning streak to 11 games in 2013, four more than its previous best of seven in a row in 2007, the last time the Americans won a Gold Cup trophy.
Shea scored on a rebound off a crossing pass by Alejandro Bedoya that Landon Donovan appeared to deflect past by Panamanian goalkeeper Jaime Penedo. Shea tapped the rolling ball into the goal a yard before it might have cross the line.
Shea’s goal was the ninth U.S. goal scored in Gold Cup play against Panama, all coming in the second half of play.
The U.S. missed a chance to double the lead in 83rd minute when Shea crossed the ball to a sprinting Eddie Johnson, whose shot went over the goal.
Panama unsuccessfullly pushed back late in regulation and during four minutes of stoppage time.
The teams unofficially combined for one first-half shot, an attempt by Bedoya. But the pace picked up considerably in the second as U.S. pressure increased.
In the 48th minute, Donovan’s free kick sailed on target to Clarence Goodson for a potential header in front of the net. But the ball narrowly slipped by Goodson, who appeared to complain to officials about being pushed.
Donovan’s header off a DaMarcus Beasley cross in the 56th minute went wide. He was knocked down outside the box in the 64th minutes but Panama escaped a penalty. And a free kick combination with Bedoya was unsuccessful
U.S. Coach Juergen Klinsmann was in an unaccustomed perch, forced to watch his team from a Soldier Field suite.
He was serving a one-game suspension following CONCACAF Disciplinary Committee action on Friday. Klinsmann was ejected late in last Wednesday’s semifinal win over Honduras in Dallas after complaining to officials over calls agains his team.
One fan in Soldier Field’s lower bowl held a “Free Klinsmann” sign in support of the coach.
Klinsmann walked out the field after the game to greet his team.
U.S. assistants Andreas Herzog and Martin Vasquez were designated as co-coaches in Klinsmann’s absence. Herzog won a coin flip to fulfill CONCACAF’s requirement to list one head coach on the pre-game rosters.
The two countries last met for a Gold Cup title in 2005. The U.S. prevailed on penalty kicks after a scoreless draw.
CONCACAF is a regional grouping of national soccer programs for North and Central America and the Caribbean area.