The U.S. men’s national soccer team is on a record winning streak as it aims for its seventh consecutive World Cup berth next year in Brazil.
The Americans beat Panama Sunday, 1-0, in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final, which was played before almost 58,000 fans at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Substitute Brek Shea, who plays for Stoke City in the English Premier League, came off the bench and just 42 seconds later tapped the ball into the net in the 69th minute to become the hero in the USA’s 11th straight victory.
It was the second goal of the Gold Cup tournament for the 23-year-old Shea, one of several young players who has made a positive impression on head coach Juergen Klinsmann ahead of the next round of World Cup qualifying in September.
Landon Donovan, the all-time leader in scoring and assists for the USA men’s team, has also made a positive impact since returning to the national squad after a four-month, self-imposed soccer sabbatical.
Donovan was named the Gold Cup’s Most Valuable Player after finishing with five goals and seven assists in the tournament.
“In terms of just having fun, it’s up there,” says Donovan. “I’m just enjoying being part of it. I really am.”
Before the Gold Cup competition kicked off, Coach Klinsmann had been criticized
for his handling of the U.S. team.
But that criticism has waned in the wake of the record winning streak and the USA’s first Gold Cup trophy since 2007, which has given Klinsmann and American soccer fans a lot to smile about.