photo by ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
HOUSTON, Texas – As Honduras applied most of the pressure towards the end of regulation of its semifinal match against Mexico on Wednesday night, there was a growing sense that maybe the U.S. men's national team would not face its most bitter rival in the Gold Cup final afterall.
That belief was quickly crushed with an improved Mexican effort in overtime, an effort that saw El Tri score two goals to set up a United States-Mexico final for the third consecutive Gold Cup.
"Honestly, I think it's going to be a difficult final against a tough opponent that we know has quality players," said Giovanni Dos Santos. "We're going to have dig in deep and do our best to win the final."
Mexico may have won the last Gold Cup final, in 2009, with a 5-0 dismantling of the United States. But that result came against a U.S. team comprised of mostly reserves.
The last time the CONCACAF heavyweights squared off in a final with both being at full strength was in 2007, when the United States needed a come from behind effort, and a wonder strike, to defeat Mexico, 2-1.
""What happened in that moment, happened then," said Andres Guardado, who scored the opener in the 2007 final at Soldier Field. "But now it's a new tournament with a new team. We have more confidence now. We've had a great Gold Cup and we need to finish it off with a win in the championship match."
Guardado, a key figure in Mexico's attack, also admitted he could potentially miss the final with an ankle injury suffered in the 2-0 win against Honduras on Saturday.
"I'm a little worried because it's the final and we all want to be there," said Guardado. "It's the most important game to date, and I don't want to miss it. The doctor has given me reasons to be optimistic and told me that I might be able to play without a problem, and I hope that's the case."
Whether Guardado is there or not, Mexico will enter the final under somewhat different circumstances than their American counterparts. The Mexicans began the tournament in dominating fashion, but have looked beatable in their last two matches.
The U.S. team has done the exact opposite. After starting out slowly with less-than-convincing performances, including a first ever loss in the group stage of the tournament, the United States has rebounded. The Americans have continuously gotten better with each passing game and appear to peaking at just the right moment.
"We're playing a lot better and sometimes it's good to get a wake-up call," said Landon Donovan, who scored off a penalty kick in the 2007 final. "We've said all along that this tournament is a marathon and we can't get too caught up in one result, one performance. You've got to keep getting better as the tournament goes on and now we find ourselves in the final with a chance to win it."
Following their respective games on Wednesday night at Reliant Stadium, both teams shared a mutual respect for one another. Veteran players spoke about how the contests are always tight and how their opponent always provides a stiff test. They also spoke about how it's always special when the two teams meet.
But the awareness of how special and big the final is didn't just come from the guys who have been there before.
"They're a tough opponent, and they're in the finals for a reason," said Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez, who has yet to play against the United States.
"Yeah because I've grown up watching USA play Mexico all the time," said Eric Lichaj. "I would like to be playing in that final game against Mexico if I could."
Indeed. We all know that when it comes to in-stadium civility the Mexican fans are clearly lacking… Outside of football they’re extremely nice & hospitable but during the final they want blood and as us fans so should we
Madea goes to the Women’s World Cup
Actually, the ELO rankings have Mexico well in front of the USA. And those rankings are, frankly, far better than FIFA’s.
Los Angeles is Mexico’s second-largest city…
Frankly, I’d be surprised if 10% of the fans there were supporting the USA.
What, Portland is a top 50 city with the least diverse population. Can’t hide facts.
You are VERY WRONG!!!
Mexico is one of the best teams at coming back from a deficit. Off the top of my head-vs US Azteca WC qualifiers, and vs Guatemala a couple of days ago. Tell me what team consistently comes back from 2-0 deficits?
Don’t complain when your @sses have to be escorted out of Azteca by the Police!!!
You mean B-A-R-C-E-L-O-N-A…
How many players get to go to the two teams you mentioned?
He just did do something World Class against Costa Rica, why shouldn’t he do it against the US?
FWIW…My Dad’s from Spain me Mom Brit!
Have fun in Pasadena, leaving tomorrow to spend summer in Cotswold. FWIW!!!
I hate Mexico and I obscenity in the milk of El Tri.
Thank you…could not agree more..and spot on….
Actually no I didn’t…you put your foot down your throat….he is no where near world class and he played on a bad Spanish team who got relegated….yeah I know he was hurt…but he has been their several seasons and were he world class he would have already been snapped up be real Madrid or Barcalona…were he world class he wouldn’t be on that team and teams from England and Germany etc. would be in to sign him…you will note they are not…so you might want to quit before you look even more foolish then already do…bottom line is he is not world class…just a nice player..which is okay FWIW…:)
You can think all you want….bottom line is he not world class and never has been…
Yeah I will see Saturday as I have tickets for the game…don’t hold your breath though on him doing anything world class…:)
Are you an American FWIW?
“Portland has few minorities”…
Great. I’m sure Portland will use that on their tourism guide.
So you stuck your foot in your mouth huh?
The two main reasons Depor got relegated was because both of it’s stars Filipe Luis (who then left to Atletico Madrid) and Guardado were injured for most of both seasons!!!
I happen to think Guardado is playing his best form since 2006/2007!
i repeat Guardado is close to World Class and will go to a much better team next year and deservedly so!
…but you’ll probably find out Saturday
Dude, don’t call me dude….
Mexico’s best match ever was a loss? Sorry, not buying it. I watched the match.
My point is just that there really is not much of a “home advantage” hosting something like the Gold Cup, where everyone is playing at stadiums they’ve rarely if ever played before, no one is really living in their homes, and the host nation has no advantage in fan attendance at the final.
Yes Howard is world class..one of the top 5 keepers in the world and most ‘experts’ would and do agree on that…you may recall he won keerp of the compeition in the 2009 Confederation Cup…
Gio world class really? Go tell Harry Redknap and Spurs that…he has been a huge failure in England…the best club league in the world…he can’t find a match and gets loaned out to a so-so club in Spain…and the year before to a second division team in England and to a Turkish team…yuup thats world class…
Hernandez on the otherhand is an emergign super star and I would say is world class and is only going to get better…
You sure you watch any of these guy splay Frank? I sure am wondering…:)
Donovan is world class to….
You guys are wearing Tri-colored glasses. The two teams are, as their rankings show, neck and neck with both have advantages at different positions on the pitch. I still believe that Mikey and Jonesy will dominate the center, forcing them wide where Lichaj and especially Dolo have been stellar. The good thing is that Mexico isn’t going to bunker and so we should get plenty of chances for both sides.
Guardado…world class…now thats funny…the team he is with in Spain (Deportivo de La Coruña) just got relegated…and he was far from great…he only played 20 games for them and 26 the year before…..I love how the word ‘great’ gets thrown around….
In 1997, Portland had US v. Costa Rica. Packed in 26k that was 95/5 US fans. 18k would be cake, and Portland has few minorities in the city and would likely be pro-US crowd for any CONCACAF nation, even Mexico.
But a Gold Cup Final there is ludicrous.
Absolutely! De Nigris is Mexico’s talisman. Would not be surprised if a European team snatches him after this tournament.
I think Guardado is close to world Class and give Moreno a year and he will be as good as Marquez!
We’re very vulnerable just outside the penalty area. In every game you see 2-6 mistakes and a team like Mexico will punish us. We’ve looked pretty crappy on crosses coming from the opposition’s left side, too. Dolo is playing well, but he’s still guilty of lapses in concentration from time to time. Guardado will certainly play.
The back 6 need to be completely focused for us to stand a chance.
Man, I’d hate to be in their shoes.
Mexico has 4 BIG TIME players up front. All the other teams have had just two at most.
If we can stay focused we might be able to hold them for the full 90. Then our superior fitness may pull us through and we can win on a penalty or free kick situation.
seriously? in a shootout situation Advantage = Tim Howard.
as long as Jones and Bradley keep tracking back as they have I think they’ll be well prepared.
I have actually been really impressed with the amount of coverage the back four have been giving to each other laterally (Boca’s nearly constant overlapping with ‘dolo and Lichaj) and the way Jones and Bradley have been tracking back. Very few brakdowns and very little space conceded at the top to the 18, which has in past years been a huge habit of the US. Provided they keep a high line that should really limit Mexico’s options.
But yeah if any of those mexican forwards get in and one v one against Boca and Goodson it’s gonna be tense.
I’m referring to Aldo de Nigris who has 30 goal for Monterrey in the last 2 years and 10 goal for Mexico in the last year. 4 of those goals came in this tournament. I agree that “World class” may be a bit much but he is a regular goal scorer. We have no striker like him.
Remember most US goals come from midfielders. This is a big problem.
agreed. it’s at sea level, no one is gonna throw flares or urine on anyone, they’ll play on a respectable surface in semi breathable air. pro mexico or not, it’ll beat the alternatives.
at the risk of sounding like a cracker, the US Fans will be in all the good camera pan seats though….
Howard is not World Class. Chicharito is not world class but has world class finishing right now. Gio will be world class soon. Donovan could have been world class.
Let’s hope the USMNT is a little more mature than you.
Mexico is our only competition to host the tournament. They have to get something out of the deal and this is it. The tournament stays in the US promoting the sport and Mexican Federation gets home field advantage and a big fat check. Everybody else…Ni voz.. Ni voto. The big boyz split the spoils.
P.S. I like “U$$F” too. 😉
I know Chicarito can be considered “World Class” but who else do you speak of?
If you’re going to say Gio dos Santos, I’m not buying, unless you’re considering Dempsey a “World Class” midfielder..
I honestly believe the only “World Class” player on the field when the 2 teams line up will be Tim Howard..
Chicarito will soon be one, but I think it takes more than 1 season at the highest level to really be “World Class”
I would have to give mexico the edge in this game. They have two world class strikers. We have 0. We will need good defending and possession to beat MX. I they get 60% of the ball on Sat, we are done!
Franco, thanks for getting the Mexican perspective on this game. Mexico have a slight edge in this matchup, but I expect a very tight game. 2-1 Mexico in overtime.
Its not going to be on the defense to stop the attacks. It will come down to Bradley and Jones. I think that they are capable of stopping Dos Santos and Guardado (if he plays)
Before the Mex – Honduras game I thought that Mex would roll over the USA but now I think it will be closer, but I still give the edge to El Tri, even though it pains me to say it. USMNT will have to play it’s best game of the tourney…
Mexico likes to play attacking football, and has taken a page or two out of the Brazilian book. Gio, Barrera and Guradado like to motor it through the mid-field and get the team on the move, in 5th gear, as often as possible, and they are also adept at changing the field with long balls to the wings. They use groups of three to attack on the run, or systematically down one side or another. They like to overload one side of the field with 5-6 attackers and work a short passing game to penetrate down the alley, or to the corner top of the box, and then filter through passes to forwards trying to beat the offside trap on a give and go.
They are also generally more accurate with long balls, and better at controlling long balls with their soft and sure first touches than we are. As well, they tend to be more accurate with final touches, when making the little pass to the net – but they can be rattled, and do tend to lose their confidence when they go a goal or two down.
I’m sure the US coaches are breaking down the Mexican’s attack and defense formations, and coming up with some alternatives for us to counter them.
This will be a close hard fought match – I don’t think that one goal will win it. It will probably end 2-1, or 3-2 and it could go wither way.
Well why doesn’t the US play 4-5-1 like Honduras? It created havoc for the Mexican midfield. Mexico ended up playing four in the middle versus Honduras five, because for the first time in the tourney Mexico came out with a 4-4-2 formation, so Giovani was playing deeper thus leaving a a hole futher back. Another thing to think is covering Marquez he was the orchestrator from the second half on. Every single Mexican ball went thru him.
The incident where he pulled out his pistol and watered the hallowed turf, certainly made him an icon……an iconic voodoo doll that every Mexican fan wants to stick full of pins and burn.
I was born in the US and I am 100% a USMNT fan, but I grew up every summer in Mexico, and I have lots of cousins and uncles and aunts who are BIG el Tri fans, to the death. You don’t know how much BS I put up with growing up, before we re-named Mexico “dos a cero” for ten years running – and trust me Donovan is not well loved in Mexico.
Sorry just noticed you were refering to the 2006 WC…my bad
Where are people sitting for this one? Not to be creepy or anything, but I’m hoping to God that I’m sitting with fellow USMNT supporters. I’m sitting in section 4-L, if anybody else feels comfortable disclosing the information, I would appreciate getting a bead on what I’m up against haha
It was at the Jalisco in Guadalajara. I did read this a long time ago. I remember the article said it was during practice and bathrooms were closed.
Actually, Mexico had the biggest fan base at the WC out of ALL countries invited (second being the US) and they were the only fan base to drown out the ridiculous humming sound of the Vuvuzelas, if that tells you anything
It’s not a track meet, it’s soccer. And they don’t have anyone as fast as Richards from Jamaica. Plus Mexico will have tired legs after not being able to take care of business in regulation against Honduras and having to play 120 minutes.
Both Dempsey and Salcido have been to each other’s houses and met each other’s families so don’t believe the hype!
I don’t think Goodson has it in him to stop Mexico’s attack!
i really don’t.
Dude Mexico is playing in the USA!!! It doe not feel like Mexico, it does not look like Mexico it is NOT Mexico. What crowd advantage did Mexico reap on all of those Dos a Cero losses?
Mexico played it’s best match ever In Germany 2006, vs Argentina. I don’t think the crowd had anything to do with that!!!
It’s technically a neutral venue
Uhh… you mean Concacaf, right?
“him peeing on the field at Azteca”
Any evidence of this? If so please post links.
Otherwise I’m pretty sure it’s the Mexican fans who piss all over the field at Azteca, by throwing bags of the stuff.