CHICAGO -- Jurgen Klinsmann helped get them there, and a young American squad did the rest to get their coach his first trophy with the United States.
With Klinsmann sitting in a booth high above the playing field at Soldier Field, the Stars and Stripes overcame their coach's suspension and dominated Panama to walk away with a 1-0 victory and a Gold Cup title in front of a crowd 57,900 on Sunday afternoon.
Brek Shea scored the lone goal in the 69th minute in a match the U.S. controlled from start to finish with 69 percent of the possession, pushing the team's record winning streak to 11 games.
"They had an amazing spirit in this group," Klinsmann said. "They badly wanted this competition and they deserved it. By far the best team of the tournament was the United States."
The U.S. has now won five Gold Cups, but this is the first trophy for Klinsmann, who took over the national squad two years ago and has the team headed in the right direction ahead of next summer's World Cup in Brazil.
Klinsmann was suspended for the match after getting tossed out of his team's 3-1 victory over Honduras in the semifinals last Wednesday. In Klinsmann's absence, his two assistant coaches, Martin Vasquez and Andreas Herzog, handled responsibilities from the sideline.
Their first major coaching decision came in the 23rd minute when they subbed out Stuart Holden after the midfielder went down with a knee injury caused by a collision with Panama's Alberto Quintero. Holden, who has been battling knee injuries for the last two years, was replaced by Mix Diskerud.
"We are very, very sad for him and it's not looking good for Stu," Klinsmann said after the match. "Hopefully we can get him back on track."
Holden's injury, which is being called a sprained knee and will be evaluated further, overshadowed anything that happened on the field in a first half that lacked any real scoring chances for the Americans.
But things would go much more smoothly for the hosts in the second half.
Playing with a sense of urgency, Landon Donovan nearly drew a penalty kick shortly after halftime when he kicked the ball into a defender's hand, but the referee decide it was incidental contact. Moments later, he headed a cross just wide of the goal.
With full momentum on their side, the much-anticipated goal would come in the 69th minute. Donovan whiffed on a cross from Alejandro Bedoya but the ball rolled to Shea at the far post for an easy tap-in goal.
Shea, who had recorded his first international goal earlier in the tournament against Costa Rica, scored just 43 seconds after entering the match for Joe Corona.
"In two games he was at the right time in the right spot in the deciding two games of this tournament," Klinsmann said.
After the goal, Klinsmann left his box and would appear on the pitch after the final whistle to celebrate with the mostly reserve side that proved how deep the U.S. player pool has gotten since the German-born boss took over.
"They gave me a pretty nice champagne shower," Klinsmann said.