In front of an enormous crowd of 81,410 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, FC Dallas forward Blas Perez scored in the first half as Panama defeated Mexico 2-1 in the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals. This all-important win sends Panama to their second Gold Cup Final where they'll face the United States who cruised to a 3-1 victory thanks to a pair of goals from Landon Donovan, the hottest player in US Soccer.
In the opening match, the United States had little trouble jumping out to a two-goal lead at halftime. Landon Donovan was again the dangerman with a brilliant assist on Eddie Johnson's well taken 11th minute goal before scoring a fantastic goal of his own in the 27th minute.
After Honduras' Nery Medina raised the blood pressure with a 52nd minute goal, Donovan wasted no time in scoring his fifth goal of the tournament just a minute later to put the Catrachos comeback bid to rest in another scintillating performance from Jurgen Klinsmann's men.
In the nightcap, it was Blas Perez on his homecoming to DFW getting things started with a 13th minute goal slammed past Mexico goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco. El Tri set the highly partisan crowd on fire when Luis Montes headed home Marco Fabian's brilliant cross in the 26th minute to send the game into halftime tied 1-1.
In the second half, Roman Torres headed home a corner from Gabriel Torres to put Panama up 2-1, a lead they wouldn't relenquish. Perez and Panama will face the United States in the final at 3PM on Sunday afternoon, their second-ever Gold Cup final and second against the United States, a game the Americans won on penalty kicks.
The week ahead is an exciting one for soccer fans across the metroplex, with the best of CONCACAF coming to town for the Gold Cup semifinals and FC Dallas Stadium hosting three events, including an international friendly. Here's a timeline of the packed week!
Tuesday, July 23 - FC Dallas Reserves vs. Antigua Barracuda FC: The FC Dallas reserve squad will host Antigua Barracuda FC of USL Pro in reserve league action on Tuesday night, their second home game of the season. The game will start at 7 p.m. and admission is free. If you can't make it out to the stadium, you can watch the game via the live stream on FCDallas.com.
Wednesday, July 24 - Gold Cup Semifinals: On Wednesday night, one of the biggest soccer events of the year hits Cowboys Stadium as the CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals come to the metroplex. Jurgen Klinsmann's high-flying United States squad starts the evening off at 6 p.m. against Honduras, followed by Mexico vs. Panama, featuring FC Dallas' Blas Perez, at 9 p.m. in what is sure to be a sold-out and wild atmosphere. Follow FC Dallas for exclusive social media and website coverage of both games.
Friday, July 26 - Meet the Team: FC Dallas Season Ticket Holders will have an exclusive opportunity to meet the team on Friday night before the Stoke City friendly on Saturday. The schedule is tentatively as follows: The evening will begin with a press conference featuring Stoke City at 6 p.m. in the WinStar River Club. The event is open to the first 300 Season Ticket Holders that arrive. The press conference will be followed by the media introduction of FC Dallas' newest signing, Mauro Diaz, at 6:15 p.m. Season Ticket Holders will also have access to Stoke City FC's pregame practice starting at 6:30p.m. The evening will end with FC Dallas player autographs on the concourse from 7:15-8:45 p.m. Free CiCi's pizza and soda will be available for all Season Ticket Holders. If you're not currently a season ticket holder, you can gain access to the event by purchasing season tickets. Call 888-FCD-GOAL for more information.
Saturday, July 27 - FC Dallas vs. Stoke City FC: The week will conclude with an international showdown as the English Premier League comes to Frisco with FCD hosting Stoke City FC. The game will kickoff at 8 p.m. at FC Dallas Stadium, and there is still plenty of time to grab your tickets for the game.
The field is set for the hexagonal round in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. Beginning in 2013 the United States will battle Costa Rica, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico and Panama for the right to be one of three teams to advance to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Now it's your time to vote - which three teams do you think will advance?
Definitely head over to Grantland, where Noah Davis has a thought provoking story about the rise of CONCACAF players in MLS and whether that's making things more difficult for the U.S. Men's National Team.
Perez, of course, is a member of the Panamanian National Team and gives his take on the rising perception of MLS in Central America.
From MLSSoccer.com is this recap of the U.S./Cuba match. It wasn't much of a contest. Read the whole recap here, but we've sliced out the details involving FC Dallas' Brek Shea, who started the match and was subbed out in the second half when it became lopsided:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The outcome of the United States Under-23 squad's opening match of CONCACAF Olympic qualifying wasn't in doubt for long. Joe Corona tallied a hat trick, including the opening strike in the 11th minute, in a 6-0 rout of 10-man Cuba at LP Field on Thursday night.
Freddy Adu and Juan Agudelo also scored, and the Americans benefited from an own-goal in a dominating and impressive effort from Caleb Porter's young squad.
The Americans made it 2-0 in the 37th minute. A quick restart on a free kick went to Brek Shea in the left channel, and the FC Dallas star lofted an inch-perfect cross to Agudelo. The New York Red Bulls star was by himself streaking toward the six-yard box, and confidently headed it in.
The US then added their fourth in the 43rd minute. Shea found a through ball on the left side of the goal and curled a cross in for Agudelo, but Diz Pe bungled it into the net before the mohawked striker could pounce.
In their next tilt on Saturday, the US will face a Canadian side that drew 0-0 with El Salvador in a listless opening game.