Playing before a sellout crowd of 93,420 at the RoseBowl, the USA lost to Mexico 4-2 in the Gold Cup Final game. Even though it was technically a home game for the USA, there were about 80,000 Mexican fans in the stadium so it felt a bit weird. The US took a 2-0 lead on goals by Michael Bradley off a header from a corner kick by Freddie Adu before Landon Donovan scored on a left foot blast off a beautiful pass from Clint Dempsey. Adu sent a long ball to Dempsey to help set up that score. That lasted only about 6 minutes before Mexico got on the scoreboard.
The mood was tempered by defender Steve Cherundolo’s exit from the game. The experienced right back and big-game performer sprained his left ankle, forcing Bradley to bring on Jonathan Bornstein with his first change of the match in the 11th minute and switch Eric Lichaj to the right. Bornstein was beat quite a few times by Mexico and he was definitely a weakness. Mexico scored 2 goals to tie the game before halftime. Mexico reacted with urgency after going down two goals and head coach Jose Manuel De La Torre made an early substitution. Carlos Salcido made way for Jorge Torres Nilo in the 28th minute and immediately after the switch, Mexico was back in the game.
Javier Hernandez, (pictured above & Mexico’s best player also known as Chicharito and a member of Manchester United of the English Premier League) lifted a ball over the top of the U.S. defense to Pablo Barrera, whose one-time finish with his right foot beat Howard at the near post in the 29th minute. In the 36th minute, the speedy Giovani dos Santos cut inside on the edge of the area where he smashed a shot low to the far post which deflected off Lichaj and bounced to Andres Guardado, who shot it past Howard to tie the score.
Mexico had full momentum and took the lead in the 50th minute when Guardado won the ball at the top of the box before laying it off for Barrera for a one-time shot with the outside of his right foot that had too much pace for Howard to get a hand on.
The US had some great chances to get even with Carlos Bocanegra just missed a header from a Donovan cross, Adu (The USA’s best player the last 2 games in my opinion) shot a free kick that was saved by Mexican goalier Alfredo Talavera and Clint Dempsey barely missed with a shot off the cross bar.
The final blow was spectacular when Dos Santos chipped one over Lichaj in the top corner of the goal after eluding Tim Howard and 2 other defenders for the goal of the tournament.
Mexico proved to be the better team and who knows how things would have gone had Jose Altidore not got injured. They really missed his size and strength as they were out-manned on headers the whole game. I am still a fan of Edson Buddle after watching him many times with the Galaxy and his ability to be in the right spot and score big goals. For some reason, he is not given a chance with the National Team and I also think the team would have fared better had they played him more in the World Cup last year.
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