Sunday, June 24, 2007

U.S. Beats Mexico in Gold Cup Final (2-1)

It was the best that either team had played in the half-baked though intermittently exciting tournament, and both teams managed to keep it clean, fast, and--at least in El Tri's case--dexterously attack-minded. Mexico's young left-wing midfielder Andreas Guardado coolly scored on keeper Tim Howard right before the half, giving El Tri the momentum going into the second. But the U.S. equalized in the 62nd when Landon Donovan (who looked vibrantly dangerous when he broke free and tested the Mexican defenders) took a penalty kick in response to Brian Ching being taken down in the box by defender Jonny Magallon. Time and time again Mexico were able to weave short passes and move the ball through the middle and the wings, which appeared to frustrate and tire the club-footed, hacking U.S. defenders, but ultimately Mexico were unable to secure another goal.

There was a tense moment in the 68th for both teams when Guardado and U.S. defender Jonathan Spector (who also plays for the mighty West Ham United) smacked heads while jumping for the ball. Both players appeared wobbly (once they did finally stand up) and Spector had to be sidelined, though Guardado played out the rest of the match, no doubt in a haze. It sure did show, and unfortunately Mexico seemed to lack any real energy for the rest of the match until the final moments when they weaved passes into the box again from off the right wing and valiantly tested Howard in front of goal--Adolfo Bautista's crazy shot in the 89th surely got apm headquarters in an uproar! But the U.S. maintained their lead (Benny Feilhaber scored off of a corner in the 72nd) and added more than a pinch to Mexico's and Hugo Sanchez's wounds.

Now both the U.S. and Mexican teams will venture to Venezuela for the start of Copa America 2007, which starts on Tuesday and will be shown here in the U.S. on GolTV. The U.S. will be fielding a controversially younger and mostly untested (at least in regards to major international tournaments) squad against a formidable looking Argentina team, as well as that little team from Brazil, sans Ronaldinho and Kaka, the reigning champions.

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