Writers from around the Tribune Co. predict who will win Sunday's Gold Cup final between the U.S. and Panama. Join the conversation by voting in the poll and leaving a comment of your own.
Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times
Panama has played well in the Gold Cup, beating Mexico twice. But it won’t beat the U.S.
The Americans are on a roll of historic proportions. They’ve won 10 in a row for the first time in the century-long history of U.S. soccer. Their 19 goals in five games is a Gold Cup record for the team. And Landon Donovan is on fire, with five goals and seven assists in the tournament.
But don’t take my word for it. Here’s Honduran Coach Luis Fernando Suarez after the U.S. beat his team in the semifinals:
“With the soccer that the United States has played to this point, they have to be the favorite,” he said. “After five games the United States has proven to be the most complete team.”
That won’t change Sunday.
Don Markus, Baltimore Sun
The U.S. struggled to beat Panama in the 2005 Gold Cup final, winning on penalty kicks, with a young team but without its head coach, Bruce Arena, who had been red-carded out of the semifinals.
The Americans will take a relatively young team into Chicago's Soldier Field on Sunday, but Coach Juergen Klinsmann and star Landon Donovan should have little trouble leading the U.S. past Panama.
The U.S. has dominated this tournament -- outscoring the competition 19-3 in its first five matches -- and has now won 10 straight since losing a friendly to Belgium in May.
While soccer, unlike most sports, sees its Davids beat Goliaths all the time, Panama’s two wins over Mexico in the Gold Cup are more an indication of Mexico’s disarray heading into the World Cup than Panama's emergence.
Final score: U.S. 3, Panama 1.
Bob Foltman, Chicago Tribune
With the form and purpose that Landon Donovan is playing with, it is hard to bet against this rampaging U.S. side. Still, Panama has shown itself to clearly be the second-best team in this tournament and has to feel it is playing with house money, with all the pressure against the hosts.
The absence of Mexico on Sunday should result in a more pro-U.S. crowd than if El Tri were the opponents at Soldier Field. This will be the hardest of the bunch, but an 11th straight win, Gold Cup title and solidified roster place in Brazil next summer for Donovan will be the U.S. reward after a 3-1 victory.