CHICAGO - For someone who turned the CONCACAF Gold Cup into a personal showcase, it turned out to be a play in which Landon Donovan failed to touch the ball that helped the United States secure the title Sunday.
As Alejandro Bedoya's right-wing feed came to him, Donovan kicked and missed, moving Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo out of position. The ball came to Brek Shea, who had an easy tap-in for the lone goal in the 68th minute in a 1-0 victory at Soldier Field.
The Americans earned their fifth Gold Cup crown and first since besting Mexico here in 2007.
For his outstanding play through the United States' six games, Donovan was named the Golden Ball winner as the MVP of the tournament on the strength of his five goals and seven assists.
"I've enjoyed it tremendously," Donovan said. "Just having fun, it's up there. I'm really proud to be a part of what we've been to. As I get older, the things that matter to me are winning. And when you look around and see young kids holding the trophy in there and experiencing something for the first time, it makes me really happy."
Donovan took a self-imposed three-month exile during the winter to recharge his batteries. When he returned to action, he was not called in for the United States' first six World Cup qualifiers in the final round.
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann indicated that the 31-year-old star will be recalled for the Costa Rica and Mexico matches in September.
"It's absolutely normal that it's a high probability that he joins us for the September games," he said. "It's absolutely no discussion."
When it came time to bring Shea into the match for Joe Corona in the 67th minute, Klinsmann said he had discussed many scenarios with assistant coach Andreas Herzog, who called the shots from the bench.
"We made a lot of 'what if?' scenarios, obviously," Klinsmann said. "What if certain players get injured or yellow-carded or red-carded. You have to do your homework as a coach, basically.
"You see a guy like Brek, unpredictable for himself and the opponent, it's a card that you want to play."
Shea made an impact in two matches, scoring the game-winner in a pair of Cup wins.
"It doesn't matter who scored today," he said. "We won."
After watching the games from a luxury box while serving a one-game suspension, Klinsmann was upbeat about the win, although he admitted he had difficulty not sitting on the bench.
"Watching the game is horrible," he said. "I hit the TV at one point. I'm not good in that. It's better that I get myself together and not spend any time out there anymore."