Arlington, TX – Mexico failed to set up a fourth successive meeting with the United States in the Gold Cup final as El Tri suffered a 2-1 loss to Panama in the semifinals of the competition on Wednesday.
The U.S. and Mexico had met in the three previous finals of the tournament, and the Americans did their part to set up another showdown by beating Honduras, 3-1, in their semifinal.
But a goal from Panama's Roman Torres in the 61st minute broke a 1-1 deadlock and sends Panama to the final for just the second time.
Blas Perez put Panama in front in the 13th minute after working a one-two with Alberto Quintero and firing the return pass beyond goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco at his near post.
Mexico equalized midway through the first half when Luis Montes headed home a cross from Marco Fabian, who did some nice work to get free on the left wing.
However, Panama regained the lead just after the hour mark when a corner kick from Gabriel Torres was nodded into the net by Roman Torres after he shook free from his defender.
Mexico pressed for another equalizer in the final 20 minutes, but Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo came up with two critical saves to preserve the win.
His first came on Jorge Enriquez as he dove to his right to make a diving stop at the bottom corner, while he reacted well to get just enough of a lobbed volley from Isaac Brizuela to deflect the ball onto the roof of the net 11 minutes from time.
Panama has now beaten Mexico twice in the tournament after a 2-1 win in the group stage match between the sides, setting up a meeting with the United States in the final on Sunday.