New England Soccer Today

Too Much to Take

PASADENA, Calif. – Four unanswered goals gave a relentless Mexico squad an emphatic 4-2 win over the United States to earn the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup and a berth to the 2013 Confederations Cup tournament.

Despite Mexico’s formidable firepower, the U.S. found the scoreboard first when Michael Bradley (7′) and Landon Donovan (23′) gave the Yanks a surprising two-goal cushion midway through the first half. But Mexico responded with a fury thanks to goals from Pablo Barrera (29′, 49′), Andres Guardado (37′) and Giovani dos Santos (76′) that sent the partisan crowd into a frenzy.

Mexico announced its intentions right from the opening whistle when dos Santos, who terrorized the American defense all night, crashed through and fired the first shot of the game only two minutes into the match.

Although the Mexicans had the game firmly in control early, the Americans squeezed the first goal of the game in the 7th minute. From the right corner, Freddy Adu sent a low corner that Bradley, on a late run toward the near post, nodded through to put Mexico on its heels.

Mexico resumed its regular runs into the U.S. end, but came up short each time as their shots missed their targets, including a Javier Hernandez shot that was denied by the near post in the 14th minute.

On the other end of the pitch, the Americans converted their second straight opportunity when Adu squared a ball for Clint Dempsey in space. Dempsey immediately fed it ahead to Donovan in the box, where the speedy midfielder sent it through to silence, albeit briefly, the stunned Mexican crowd.

Staring down a disturbing two-goal deficit, there was no room for error anymore for Mexico. The misses meant nothing. El tri needed to score. Fast.

Six minutes after Donovan’s goal, Mexico responded when Barrera took a pass and put it past Tim Howard to give his club the goal that it had frantically chased all night.

Barrera’s goal brought the Americans back down to earth, as the American defense would have to step up to preserve its precarious one-goal margin.

But the U.S. backline simply wasn’t up to snuff against the precision the Mexican players displayed in the attacking third.

And that was particularly evident when dos Santos cut into the box, but saw his pass intercepted by Eric Lichaj. But the defender failed to clear it, and Guardado beat Howard to the ball and pushed ball through for the equalizer.

To solve – or at least keep pace with Mexico’s menacing attack – the U.S. would have to tighten up in the back and continue to convert its chances whenever they found them.

However, four minutes into the second frame, it was clear that the Americans were simply no match for the Mexicans.

As the Mexicans sprung another attack, Barrera struck again when he pounded a pass from Guardado that snuck inside the far post to finally put Mexico on top in the 49th minute.

A brief sequence of shots from Adu and Dempsey near the hour restored hope on the American bench. But both fell short of leveling the affair.

The margin may have only been a single score, but it was patently obvious that the Mexicans would not allow the Americans back into the match.

And at the 76th minute, the Mexicans put it out of reach when dos Santos was given a ball inside the box, and with Howard diving ahead to smother the chance, the Mexican striker danced out of danger, then chipped it far post where it cleared Lichaj on the line and kissed the twine.

Minutes later, the Mexicans donned their championship swag and grabbed the Gold Cup trophy, and the right to represent CONCACAF at the Confederations Cup tournament in 2013.

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