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In Gold Cup Final, Feilhaber Has The Midas Touch for United States
The first step was inserting Ricardo Clark, a player with only six previous U.S. appearances, into defensive midfield for the fading Pablo Mastroeni to help counter Castillo.
With its defensive effort fortified, the Americans threatened to equalize. Feilhaber's low drive and Clint Dempsey's point-blank follow-up were stopped by Oswaldo Sanchez. Then, some controversy. Brian Ching gathered Jonathan Spector's pass and turned on Jonny Magallon in the box. Magallon made contact and Ching went down -- penalty kick. Donovan scored into the right corner for his 34th international goal, tying Eric Wynalda atop the U.S. career list.
The Mexicans howled in protest at the time of the foul as well as after the match. Coach Hugo Sanchez stalked the officiating crew upon the final whistle and mockingly applauded the trio following the awards ceremony.
Ching responded by saying: "The guy stuck his leg out and tripped me. I think I would've gotten to the ball and got a shot if he didn't. Let them complain all they want."
Feilhaber's goal brought no such debate. Donovan's corner kick was headed out of the box by a Mexican player and into the path of Feilhaber.
"I was just looking to get good contact on the ball and just [get] it toward the goal, and I knew as soon as I hit it, it was going in," he said.
Added Donovan: "As it came [to Feilhaber], I was like, 'Don't shoot it. Ohh, that works.' "
Ching could have sealed it, but hit the right post. DaMarcus Beasley could have sealed it, but after collecting Donovan's pass and staring at an open net, hit the crossbar. Between those opportunities, U.S. goalie Tim Howard made a remarkable reflex save on Adolfo Bautista's eight-yard drive.
"If he hadn't made that save, it would've been on me," Beasley said, "and I would've cried."
The Americans will now turn their attention to Copa America, the South American championship that begins this week in Venezuela. The United States will open Thursday against tournament favorite Argentina, a daunting challenge that will surely cut short its Gold Cup celebration.
Nonetheless, Onyewu said, "It's a great win for us, a great step forward in the direction that we want to go with this new team."