1624722_herolKANSAS CITY, Kan. — Panama coach Hernan Dario Gomez has been around the international game for a while, and his long career affords him the type of perspectives few coaches can boast.

Among those perspectives is seeing the growth of the U.S. national team over the past two decades.

As Gomez prepares to lead Panama against the U.S. in the final match of Gold Cup Group A, he sees a U.S. team that has grown by leaps and bounds, and a team with a personality that mirrors that of its coach.

“I’ve faced the U.S. various times, going back to the ’90s, with Colombia, then Ecuador, and their progress is total,” Gomez said. “Now I seem them as a team much like their coach. Cold, calculated, German, practical, serious. A very good team, very European. I like the way the United States plays.”

Gomez acknowledged that his team is the underdog Monday night at Sporting Park, but he believes Panama can cause problems for the Americans.

“They’re a team that makes the difficult things look easy,” Gomez said of the U.S. “They’re practical, serious. We’re a team that has our own idiosyncrasies, with good positioning of the ball, and very organized.

“Panama has a style and identity it doesn’t lose, and hopefully it’s a good game and we play well,” Gomez added. “Independent of the result, we want to play well.”

The U.S. has already clinched first place in Group A, but coach Jurgen Klinsmann wouldn’t go as far as to say he would be playing a reserve-laden team in the group finale, or resting key starters.

clint-dempsey-usa-gold-cup-07072015_1guk664or6hy31a3z6aomghuja“There’s not much about resting,” Klinsmann said. “It was good for us that we started with a win right away against Honduras, and with the fact that games are every three days in the group stage, yes, you bring in a bit of a rotation system because some of the players are just not ready to play every three days.

“We used that rotation in the game against Haiti and now we have, again, the option to get fresh players into the game as well,” Klinsmann said. “That’s just a tricky situation with the group phase, but also it’s something positive as long as you get the results at the same time.”

Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey have played all 180 total minutes in the tournament so far, and Klinsmann could be tempted to rest his top stars ahead of Saturday’s quarterfinal. Whether the U.S. trots out a full-strength team or not, Gomez expects the Americans to be very strong and doesn’t expect the fact they have already clinched the group is going to lead to complacency.

“There is no such thing as reserves on that team,” Gomez said. “All their players have quality and we won’t have an easy time.

“They’re a big team, and they’re playing at home, so they want to win every game and they aren’t going to give anything away,” Gomez said. “They’re going to remain in their same position, as favorites. It’s going to be a difficult game, but I think a difficult game for both teams.”


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