EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) – The United States won the CONCACAF Gold Cup for the third time, beating Panama 3-1 on penalty kicks following a scoreless tie in Sunday’s final.

Santino Quaranta, Landon Donovan and Brad Davis converted penalty kicks for the Americans, while goalkeeper Kasey Keller stopped the opening shot from Luis Tejada and allowed just one penalty, to Felipe Baloy. Panama’s Jorge Luis Dely Valdes hit the crossbar and Alberto Blanco put the his shot over the bar.

Only one of the Americans failed to convert his penalty kick, with Chris Armas sending the ball right to goalkeeper Jaime Penedo.

Davis, making just his second international appearance, got the winning penalty kick by putting the ball just past the outstretched fingers of Penedo, who dived to his left. Davis, 23, made his national team debut in the tournament opener against Cuba.

The United States also won this tournament, the championship of soccer’s North and Central American and Caribbean region, in 1991 and 2002. The Americans, ranked sixth in the world, dominated Panama to win 3-0 in a World Cup qualifier last month at Panama City. But they struggled against the No. 83-ranked team in the Gold Cup final, their last game before resuming qualifying in Aug. 17 against Trinidad and Tobago at East Hartford, Conn.

Luis Dely Valdes nearly put Panama ahead in the 75th minute, beating the U.S. defense to a cross and chesting the ball down, but his shot from 4 yards went off a post.

Quaranta then made a fine run at the other end and put the ball under Penedo but, with an open net, Clint Dempsey couldn’t get a leg on the cross to redirect it.

Keller made a great diving save to his right six minutes into overtime to stop Valdes, who had a point-blank shot after faking out defender Jimmy Conrad, and Blanco had Keller beaten 12 minutes in but put the ball wide of the far post.

The U.S. had three good scoring chances in the first half. John O’Brien had a nice crossing shot in the 24th minute that Penedo tipped but Conrad, at the far post, couldn’t knock it in.

Dempsey was open for a header from about 10 yards in the 38th minute off a cross from Greg Vanney but put his shot at Penedo, who jumped to knock the ball over the crossbar. DaMarcus Beasley then had an open shot from about 14 yards in the 41st off a backheader from Josh Wolff but also sent his shot right at Penedo.

Notes: U.S. coach Bruce Arena served a one-game suspension and was not on the bench. … Panama’s Luis Moreno, who originally was suspended for the game because he was ejected in the semifinal against Colombia, was allowed to play. Panama appealed his second yellow card against the Colombians and CONCACAF’s disciplinary committee agreed that it shouldn’t have been assessed to him. … Because the next FIFA Confederations Cup isn’t until 2009, the 2007 Gold Cup will determine the region’s representative.

AP-ES-07-24-05 1814EDT

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