Five-star Mexico strike Gold
Mexico beat the USA 5-0 on Sunday in the final of the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup in New Jersey, with all of their goals coming in a stunning second-half surge. The result sees El Tri take a lead in the all-time Gold Cup standings with five titles to the USA's four. The victory, which came in front of a largely pro-Mexican crowd of just under 79,000, also saw Mexico snap a near decade-long stretch of 11 games without a win on US soil
The 57th meeting between the two old regional rivals began with an open and attacking feel. Mexico were looking dangerous and taking all of their cues from young Tottenham Hotspur striker Gio Dos Santos, a member of the Mexican junior side that won the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2005. Rushing in from deep positions, the former Barcelona man was the focal point for El Tri throughout the course of the first half.
The USA, up the other end, were finding openings through the effective combination of Robbie Rogers out left and Stuart Holden in an advanced midfield position. Time and again, crosses from Rogers and corner kicks from Holden seemed to trouble Mexico's young goalkeeper, Guillermo 'Memo' Ochoa. Long-distance efforts from holding midfielder Kyle Beckerman and Heath Pearce proved less worrisome for the Mexican rearguard, marshaled well by Jonny Magallon.
The two best chances of the opening period came in the last two minutes. Twice Dos Santos fed Alberto Medina after roaring up through midfield. But on both occasions, the Chivas man fluffed his lines, first corralled by Chad Marshall and then pulling his shot wide of Troy Perkins' net.
Mexican coach Javier Aguirre brought on Arsenal young gun Carlos Vela after the break, and it made all the difference after two early chances by the USA went begging. In the 56th minute he played a part in feeding the ball into the box for Dos Santos, who was unceremoniously dragged down by US defender Jay Heaps. The Jamaican referee wasted no time in pointing to the spot.
Up stepped captain Gerardo Torrado, who did what Miguel Sabah couldn't in the semi-final with Costa Rica, slamming past Perkins to put Mexico into the lead. From there on out, the Aztecas were in firm control and firing on all cylinders. Perkins was forced into three saves in a five-minute stretch after the opening goal, but he could do nothing in the 62nd minute when Dos Santos followed up to poke home a rebound from inside the six-yard box.
Bad to worse
The US, whose first team reached the final of the FIFA Confederations Cup last month, could not stop the bleeding as Mexican pressure continued to mount. Torrado fed the ball into Dos Santos, who found Vela breaking into space behind the defence in the 67th minute. The Arsenal man made no mistake, slipping the ball past the onrushing Perkins. At 3-0 the game was effectively over as a contest and Jose Castro added a fourth in the 79th minute. Vela was again the creator as he threaded a through ball for the Club America player, who slotted simply and calmly into the back of the net.
Late substitute Guille France added a fifth in the 90th minute, slamming home from outside the box to seal a humiliating night for an admittedly young and inexperienced USA squad, who saw Heaps sent off late for challenge. "We ran out of gas. We fell apart mentally," said USA captain Brian Ching after the game. "They finished their chances well, we had our problems and they exploited them. Maybe it was a lack of experience in our young team. It's an embarrassing result."
"I believe this is a great win for Mexico because we showed the pride we have in our hearts today," Dos Santos said. "This is a huge step for us in the process. The win injects us with some motivation, confidence and maturity."
The Americans will have the chance to make amends on 12 August - this time with their full A-squad - in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifying in Mexico City. The United States have never won a game at the fabled Azteca Stadium, and will be keen to set Sunday's result right.