DENVER – Canada’s faint hopes of reaching the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals were dashed on Sunday afternoon after a scoreless draw against Panama at Sports Authority Field.
Already through to the quarterfinals, Panama made nine changes to their lineup in a match during which neither side managed to create much in the way of chances for much of the game. Meanwhile, Canada introduced Pedro Pacheco and pushed left back Marcel de Jong into midfield in the hopes of finding the formula for their first goal in the Gold Cup.
The first real scoring chance fell to Panama in the 18th minute when Canadian left back Ashtone Morgan fanned on an attempted corner clearance. The flub sent the ball to former DC United midfielder Marcos Sanchez, who had time to settle the ball and fire a curling, righ-footed shot that sailed high and wide.
Canada’s best look came on a corner kick in the 28th minute when De Jong's deliver from the right side found David Edgar. The tall centerback looked to have a tap-in header, but he could only make slight contact and failed to redirect the ball on goal from just five yards out.
Five minutes from halftime, Canada gave Panama another chance when Pedro Pacheco couldn’t connect on his clearing attempt off a Jairo Jimenez corner. The ball went right over the penalty area to FC Dallas’ Blas Perez but the FC Dallas forward's header went wide.
Panama had the possession advantage early in the second half, but Morgan again gave them an opportunity in the 48th minute when he headed the ball right into Jimenez’s path. Panama's right midfielder sent a long-range effort which had eyes for the left corner of the goal but Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan made the save of the game diving to his right to redirect the ball for a corner.
Needing a goal for Canada to have any chance of advancing, interim head coach Colin Miller made three attack-minded substitutions, introducing Tosaint Ricketts and DC United's Kyle Porter.
Canada controlled much of the possession in the late stages and had a penalty kick claim in the dying moments. Forward Marcus Haber went down under a Panamanian challenge and though there was clear contact on Haber and none on the ball, no penalty was given.
The draw helped Panama clinch the top spot in Group A and a meeting with the third-place team from Group B or Group C next Saturday in Atlanta.
The Canadians, who were without a handful of starters due to illness (Will Johnson, Russell Teibert), injury (Randy Edwini-Bonsu) and club matters (Simeon Jackson), finished the tournament in last place in Group A without scoring a single goal. They will now look to newly hired manager Benito Floro, who takes over for Miller after the Gold Cup, to help the program change course.