Mexico Hammers U.S., 5-0, in Gold Cup Soccer Final

By Paul Tenorio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 27, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., July 26 -- On the heels of an uplifting and surprising performance in the FIFA Confederations Cup in June, the United States entered the CONCACAF Gold Cup looking to discover depth by fielding a squad of largely inexperienced players.

The U.S. squad worked its way through the regional tournament and into the final against lesser opponents in the first few rounds. But facing their first real test in a hostile atmosphere against Mexico at Giants Stadium, the Americans showed their inexperience.

In front of a pro-Mexican crowd of 79,156 at the Meadowlands, the U.S. team fell apart over a 23-minute sequence in the second half, allowing four goals, and was embarrassed at the hands of its biggest rival, 5-0, in the Gold Cup championship.

The loss was the United States' first to a CONCACAF rival on home soil since 2001 and its first to Mexico at home since March 13, 1999, a 2-1 defeat in San Diego.

The loss was the worst at home for the United States since a 5-0 loss to England on June 16, 1985, in Los Angeles. It also ties for the worst loss ever to Mexico at home, equaling a 7-2 setback on April 28, 1957, in Long Beach, Calif. The U.S. squad lost 6-0 at Mexico twice, in 1949 and 1957.

"The area where we didn't do well enough was our response to the first goal," Coach Bob Bradley said. "I think the first half we played pretty well. . . . But now when you get down your ability to make sure that the game doesn't just become a free-for-all. Where all of a sudden the other team has all sorts of space and opportunities, your numbers aren't good enough in the back when the ball turns over, where you lose a lot of balls, so there's a lot of things there that obviously came into play. I think it's most important that we can look at those things."

After a first half in which the United States had better possession and limited Mexico's opportunities to some late, albeit threatening, counterattacks, the floodgates opened with a questionable penalty kick call in the 56th minute.

Mexican star Giovani Dos Santos received a pass with his back to the goal in the U.S. 18-yard box and defender Jay Heaps draped over him. Heaps gave Dos Santos a slight tug at first, but nothing overwhelming, and Dos Santos seemed to lean and throw his arm and elbow back at Heaps.

The U.S. defender tumbled backward and Dos Santos crumpled on top of him, and Jamaican referee Courtney Campbell immediately whistled and pointed to the spot.

"I wish I would get that call sometimes," U.S. forward Brian Ching said. "Put it that way."

Mexico captain Gerardo Torrado buried the penalty kick down the middle as former D.C. United goalkeeper Troy Perkins dove to his right, and Mexico seized the 1-0 lead.

The spot kick was the beginning of the end for the United States.

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