In anticipation of Sunday's Final, Saturday saw the Third-Place playoff to determine who would join Mexico and Jamaica in the podium positions of this year's Gold Cup.
Having lost in the midweek semifinals, the USA and Panama took to the pitch at the modestly-sized PPL Park to finish off their tournaments, playing to a 1-1 draw, before deciding the winner with penalty kicks.
After a quiet start, Panama looked the brighter of the two, finding a pair of solid chances in the first half. Tim Ream had to be sharp to prevent an Armando Cooper chance from crossing the line. The Panamanian attacker tore down the left-channel, directing a left-footer past Brad Guzan, but Ream was in position to clear the effort away from the American goal.
Avoiding that opener, the US was nearly shredded by a curled ball in behind the back-line that picked out Roberto Nurse, but the striker could not connect cleanly, skewing his shot horribly wide.
The Stars and Stripes would wake up for the second half, the first chance falling their way when Chris Wondolowski's glancing header drifted wide, but Los Canaleros took the lead in the 54th minute through Nurse, making up for his prior wastefulness.
Rolando Blackburn rolled a ball down the right-channel for Nurse, who cut inside, losing two defenders to make himself space for a shot, beating Guzan with a low left-footer to the left-side of goal. A simple finish.
Panama would nearly add a second when Nurse knocked down an Alfredo Stephens cross to Roman Torres, who went wide as he was bundled over by John Anthony Brooks. Panama cried for a penalty, but it would not come.
And the US would respond in the 69th minute through the tournament's leading scorer, Clint Dempsey, who had come on just ten minutes earlier.
A Michael Bradley ball forward over the top was taken down by DeAndre Yedlin, himself a recent sub, before laying off to Dempsey who arrived on the right-side of the box to place a right-footed finish into the open net with Panama collapsing on Yedlin. It was his seventh goal of the competition.
Dempsey nearly added a second shortly thereafter, going up for a long ball with Panamanian keeper, Luis Mejia and winning the header, only for it to be directed wide of the right-post.
Panama had one final chance to seal the result in regular time when Blackburn directed a header on goal, but Guzan got enough to slow the initial effort and was alert to prevent it spinning over the goal-line.
Extra time loomed and passed largely without incident, meaning the match would be decided on spot kicks.
The first four takers would score – two apiece – before Fabian Johnson saw his attempt miss. Cooper's go-ahead chance was saved by Guzan, resetting the advantage to nil.
Bradley too saw his attempt saved and Harold Cummings scored his, placing all the pressure on the shoulders of DaMarcus Beasley, a player seduced out of international retirement for the tournament. He too would see Mejia make the save, winning the match for the Panamanians and dooming the US to further speculation ahead of the start of World Cup Qualification.
With third-place settled, all that remains is to crown a champion of the 2015 Gold Cup.
Sunday night at 7:30 pm ET in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – at the slightly larger Lincoln Financial Field, however – sees Mexico meet upstart Caribbean-side, Jamaica, in what should be an entertaining and closely watched final.
All eyes will be on the referee, given the controversial decisions that saw the wildly popular and thereby profitable Mexicans into the final.
Should be interesting and provide a neat start to the upcoming CONCACF qualification calendar.