CHICAGO -- Early this afternoon, the U.S. National Team bus will pull up to Soldier Field. The players will walk into the stadium and file into their locker room while coach Jurgen Klinsmann will head to a seat in the stands where he will be a spectator for the CONCACAF Gold Cup final between the U.S. and Panama.
Klinsmann will be forced to watch the game away from the bench in the wake of his suspension for being ejected against Honduras in the Americans' 3-1 semifinal win Wed- nesday night. Klinsmann was tossed for his vehement protest of what he thought were fouls on DaMarcus Beasley. He is not allowed to be with the team once it enters the stadium, including includes pre-game and halftime.
Klinsmann, who said he hasn't been told by CONCACAF whether he can communicate with the bench, said that assistant coaches Andreas Hertzog and Martin Vasquez will run the show.
"They're both ambitious enough to become a head coach someday," he said Saturday. "I'm sure that we're going to get this job done."
If Klinsmann has done his job the past several weeks, his absence should not be felt too much.
"Most of the work will be done once we arrive here at the stadium," Klinsmann said. "So we will do our pre-game talk in the hotel. We will talk through certain elements of the game this afternoon, on the training field tonight in a meeting about Panama. All the work to prepare these guys the best way possible will be done once the team arrives here at the stadium."
The American players plan to use Klinsmann's suspension as motivation.
"It's one of the biggest things in your career," midfielder-forward Landon Donovan said. "So you would hope that measures are taken to allow people to be a part of it. Unfortunately, that's not the case here, so we're all disappointed. That being said, when some guys, players couldn't play or had been selected to start on the bench, other guys have stepped in to do a great job. I feel the same way about our coaching staff.
"We're going to use it as a little bit of a rallying cry. We've built something special here and we want Jurgen to be a part of it."
The confrontation pits a pair of undefeated teams with contrasting styles. On one side is the U.S. (5-0-0), which has outscored its opposition, 19-4. On the other end is Panama (4-0-1), which has allowed the least amount of goals (three). The Panamanians have beaten favored Mexico twice by 2-1.
"They are the best team in the tournament besides us and they deserve to be here," Donovan said.
"This is an opportunity you may never have again. Our confidence right now cannot be any higher. If we want to win, we have to play a very good game."
Besides a earning a trophy and CONCACAF bragging rights, the winner will clinch a playoff spot to play the 2015 Gold Cup winner for a chance to play at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup.
Said Klinsmann, "We want to win this thing badly."