Monday, June 25, 2007

US downs Mexico to win Gold Cup

US downs Mexico to win Gold Cup
The USA retained its crown as the top nation in North & Central America by defeating traditional rivals Mexico 2-1 in the final of the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup in Chicago.

Neither nation had impressed in squeezing past their semi-final opponents; the US beat Canada 2-1 and Mexico edged Guadeloupe 1-0, but the big two of this FIFA region served up a rip-roaring climax to the tournament.

The 50,760 in attendance at Soldier Field in Chicago were largely Mexican expats, who saw El Tricolor snatch a precious lead a minute before the interval through Atlas' starlet Andres Guardado.

20 year-old Guardado, whom Real Madrid made an offer for last summer and who is a reported target of a host of big European clubs, lashed into an open net as the US was caught on a pincer movement.

Recently-installed US coach Bob Bradley kept faith with his troops after the break and was rewarded when Houston Dynamo's Brian Ching was hauled down in the area in the 62nd and LA Galaxy's Landon Donovan dispatched a cool spot kick to level the scores.

A spectacular long-range effort from Hamburg's Benny Feilhaber gave America the lead 11 minutes later. Ching and DaMarcus Beasley both then hit the woodwork for the US, who had to withstand an Alamo-style siege as the Mexicans pressed in the closing stages.

Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard pulled off a number of vital saves to keep the trophy north of the Rio Grande, hand Bradley his first piece of silverware as his team enters the 2007 Copa America, and grant the US passage to the 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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