Photo by ISIphotos.com
BY DYLAN BUTLER
Panama has 11 players who competed against the United States in the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup at Gillette Stadium. The U.S. has just one.
Brian Ching came on as a late sub, helping hold off a Panamanian squad that cut its halftime deficit in half and gave the Americans all they could handle in a difficult final 10 minutes despite being reduced to 10 men.
“It was an extremely difficult game for us,” Ching said after the final U.S. practice ahead of Saturday night’s quarterfinal clash at Lincoln Financial Field. “Panama came out and played physical, they’re very athletic and they made it difficult for us in ’07. I expect them to come out and do the same thing this year.”
The U.S. is the heavy favorite and for good reason. They are the two-time defending Gold Cup champions, have a 56-game unbeaten streak at home against CONCACAF opponents and have never lost to Panama.
But Panama will be highly motivate when they step on the field Saturday night and they have already proven with a feisty 1-1 draw against Mexico in the group stage that they are a difficult team to defeat.
That was proven in the 2007 quarterfinal and the 2005 final, which was won by the U.S. on penalty kicks.
“They have a fighting mentality. That’s helped them,” Ching said. “They’ve gotten good results, especially against Mexico in a game that maybe they feel they were a little cheated. They’re going to come into this game with a bit of a chip on their shoulder and intensity. It will be our job to come out and match that intensity, move the ball around and play well.”
One thing Ching won’t be doing on Saturday is tweeting about the officiating. On Thursday, the Houston Dynamo forward was fined $500 by Major League Soccer for an entry on his Twitter account, claiming referee Mark Geiger “cheated” during the Dynamo-Sounders FC match.
Ching said he didn’t plan on retiring his Twitter and wasn’t going to claim a U.S. teammate, say Brad Evans of Seattle, hijacked his account.
“I think I’ll just be a little bit smarter about what I put on there,” Ching said. “I take responsibility for it. I said it and I issued a retraction a day later because I knew it was wrong.”