June 25, Mexico bounced back from a two-goal deficit to defeat the USA 4-2 to become 2011 Gold Cup Champion and win a berth in the 2013 Confederations Cup.
Make no mistake, Mexico is a very good team. In the final, the USA scored two of the only four goals Mexico allowed in the entire tournament, spanning seven games.
Mexico scores 22 goals overall, cedes only four
Before the final with the U.S., Mexico only allowed two goals in the whole tournament: one to Guatemala in the quarterfinal and one to Costa Rica in group play. Mexico scored a grand total of 22 goals overall: 14 goals in group play, two in quarterfinals, two in the semifinals and four in the final. Pablo Barrera’s and Giovani Dos Santos’ second half goals in the final were spectacular. This is an excellent team.
“You have to give Mexico a lot of credit,” said Landon Donovan. “They are difficult team to play against, and they have a bunch of guys that can make special plays. Tonight I thought Gio was excellent, Barrera was excellent.
Actually of all things we did a good job with Chicharito, preventing his chances, but they just had too much for us and they were good.”
USA surprises with early surge
The USA surprised and did well to score the first two goals and they were excellent goals, not defensive screw-ups from Mexico. Although Mexico held most of the possession, the U.S. Men’s National Team were cagier and less predicatable than usual and chose their moments carefully. Michael Bradley flicked-on the first goal in the eighth minute, assisted by Freddy Adu, who made his second appearance in two years. Donovan delivered the second goal in the 23rd minute, set up by a sequence with Clint Dempsey.
The U.S. had their first blow in the 12th minute, when outside back Steve Cherundolo was injured and replaced by Jonathan Bornstein, who Mexico soon identified as a weak spot.
“Losing Steve [Cherundolo] hurt because he’s a guy you just know is going to bottle that player up on his side of the field,” said USMNT goalkeeper Tim Howard. “It ends being virtually two changes because you switch another guy’s position. It was tough. You roll with the punches, but it hurts.”
Pablo Barrera scored the first of his two goals in the 29th minute, assisted by Javier Hernandez “Chicharito”, who was not allowed to add to his total of seven goals in this tournament. Andres Guardado scored unassisted in the 36th minute. Barrera, assisted by Guardado, scored Mexico’s third goal, and Giovani Dos Santos, who had tortured and outclassed the U.S. all night scored the final goal unassisted in the 76th minute.
There was no question who was the better team early in the second half. With the exception of Howard, Dempsey, Bradley, Donovan and Cherundolo, Benny Feilhaber (injured), Herculez Gomez (not rostered) and a couple others on their best days, the USMNT doesn’t staff that quality player. With their top defender injured, USMNT performed well to stop Mexico at four goals.
“You walk away on a night like this and nobody has a good feeling in their mouth,” said Michael Bradley. “Nights like this you leave everything you have on the field and at times it doesn’t go your way. But it only motivates you more to work harder, to get better, to know what we need to bring on nights like this when things are at the absolute highest level. It’s not a nice feeling, but having said that we’ll be back.”
The U.S. program needs to change
With the millions of youth players in the U.S., it’s a virtual indictment that many of the USMNT have foreign roots and early training. Softly spoken, much of the problem has to do with economics and the inability of American families to pay for training and travel. Another problem is the philosophy of the U.S. game, which is to dominate with speed, size and defensive play. But when those big, fast players meet the international game, they find themselves outplayed by superior technical skill and tactics.
Michael Bradley and his teammates can return more determined, but the top players aren’t getting any younger, their replacements are yet to be seen, and coach Bob Bradley has obviously exhausted his knowledge. U.S. Soccer needs to reach out for foreign help to re-think and rebuild the U.S. program to maximize the many strengths of the nation and compete with the global game.
Click on the slideshow at the left or click here to see a photo gallery of the game.
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— U.S. Men’s National Team Game Report —
Match: USA vs. Mexico
Date: June 25, 2011
Competition: CONCACAF Gold Cup – Final
Venue: Rose Bowl – Pasadena, Calif.
Kickoff: 4 p.m. PT
Weather: Sunny, 75 degrees
USA – Michael Bradley (Freddy Adu) 8th minute
USA – Landon Donovan (Clint Dempsey) 23
MEX – Pablo Barrera (Javier Hernández) 29
MEX – Andrés Guardado 36
MEX – Pablo Barrera (Andrés Guardado) 50
MEX – Giovani dos Santos 76
USA: 1-Tim Howard; 6-Steve Cherundolo (12-Jonathan Bornstein, 11), 21-Clarence Goodson, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.), 14-Eric Lichaj; 4-Michael Bradley, 13-Jermaine Jones; 22-Alejandro Bedoya (9-Juan Agudelo, 63), 20-Freddy Adu (16-Sacha Kljestan, 86), 8-Clint Dempsey; 10-Landon Donovan
Subs not used: 2-Jonathan Spector, 7-Maurice Edu, 15-Tim Ream, 23-Marcus Hahnemann
Head Coach: Bob Bradley
MEX: 12-Alfredo Talavera; 16-Efraín Juárez, 15-Héctor Moreno, 4-Rafa Márquez (capt.) (2- Héctor Reynoso, 43), 3-Carlos Salcido (20-Jorge Torres Nilo, 28); 6-Gerardo Torrado, 8-Israel Castro, 18-Andrés Guardado, 7-Pablo Barrera (13-Jesus Zavala, 75), 10-Giovani dos Santos; 14-Javier Hernández
Subs not used: 9-Aldo de Nigris, 11-Angel Reyna, 17-Paul Aguilar, 23-Jonathan Orozco
Head coach: Jose Manuel de la Torre
Stats Summary: USA / MEX
Shots: 13 / 17
Shots on Goal: 3 / 8
Saves: 4 / 1
Corner Kicks: 3 / 5
Fouls: 19 / 10
Offside: 0 / 7
USA – Landon Donovan (caution) 33rd minute
MEX – Jorge Torres Nilo (caution) 81
USA – Clint Dempsey (caution) 87
USA – Jermaine Jones (caution) 90+1
Referee: Joel Aguilar (SLV)
Assistant Referee 1: Hector Vergara (CAN)
Assistant Referee 2: William Torres (SLV)
Fourth Official: Walter Lopez (GUA)
Budweiser Man of the Match: Carlos Bocanegra