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The U.S. men's soccer team appeared in five straight championships of the Gold Cup soccer tournament, so fans assumed a sixth was a sure thing. It turns out they were wrong.
Jamaica on Wednesday upset the United States to become the first Caribbean country to reach the final since the inception of the 24-year-old tournament, which crowns the best team from the Caribbean, North America and Central America.
Championship and third-place ticket prices on the secondary market reacted almost instantaneously to the news, according to ticket firm TiqIQ, falling some 15 percent after it became clear the United States would not be playing in the final match of the biennial tournament. (Tweet This)
After Jamaica took a 2-0 lead to halftime, Team USA's odds to advance in the must-win semifinal didn't look good. However, U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley netted a rebound goal to make the score 2-1 in the 48th minute, and renewed optimism sent championship ticket prices peaking near an average price of $220.
But after the U.S. failed to find an equalizer and fell to Jamaica, 2-1, fans and ticket holders were left in disbelief. Prices to the final had fallen by 15 percent to about $188 by 11 p.m. ET, as Mexico, a team that has met the United States in the Gold Cup final three out of the last five tournaments, was battling against Panama.
At that point, the third-place Gold Cup match looked like the better ticket to have, potentially featuring two big-draw teams in the U.S. and Mexico. But after Mexico pulled ahead on two controversial penalty kicks, the less alluring runner-up match between Panama and the U.S. was set.
Nonetheless, prices for that match, set to be played on Saturday in Chester, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, shot up more than 50 percent in one day.
Part of the reason could be that not many predicted the U.S. would lose to Jamaica, a team ranked 76th in world soccer rankings.
As a result, the large U.S. fan base will have to squeeze into PPL Park on Saturday with its roughly 18,000-person capacity, compared with the 70,000-person capacity at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, where Mexico and Jamaica will meet on Sunday.