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Gold Cup in History: Back-to-Back Titles, 2007

The United States entered the tournament seeking to defend its 2005 Gold Cup title in the ninth edition of the confederation championship. With an impressive and unblemished 6-0-0 record, the U.S. kept the trophy through a strong collective effort and Landon Donovan’s prowess from the penalty spot, where he scored four goals including one in the come-from-behind victory in the final against Mexico. Winning the Gold Cup was important for the U.S. not only to remain the regional champion, but also to secure a spot at the 2009 FIFA Confederation’s Cup in South Africa. Representing CONCACAF at the tournament, the U.S. finished second in their group and then stunned the soccer world when they defeated No.1-ranked Spain in the semifinals. Facing mighty Brazil in the championship, the U.S. raced to a 2-0 lead before falling 3-2 in Johannesburg. The FIFA Confederations Cup provided the U.S. with the opportunity to play intense international competition in South Africa just one year before the country would host the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Dates: June 6 – 24, 2007
Locations: Miami; Carson, Calif.; Foxborough, Mass.; East Rutherford, N.J.; Houston; Chicago

The 2007 Gold Cup featured 12 teams from CONCACAF that were divided into three groups of four teams. The top two teams from each group would advance along with the best two third place teams overall to the knockout round. The U.S. was drawn into Group B with Guatemala, El Salvador and Trinidad and Tobago.

Team  GP  W  D  L  GF  GA  GD  Pts 
USA  +7 
El Salvador  -4 
Trinidad and Tobago  -3 

Date: June 7, 2007
Location: The Home Depot Center – Carson, Calif.
Attendance: 21,334
Result: 1-0 W (Dempsey 26’)

Date: June 9, 2007
Location: The Home Depot Center – Carson, Calif.
Attendance: 27,000
Result: 2-0 W (Ching 29’, Johnson 54’)

Date: June 12, 2007
Location: Gillette Stadium – Foxborough, Mass.
Attendance: 26,523

Result: The United States closed out its group play with a decisive 4-0 win against El Salvador. Off a well-directed corner kick from Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley netted the first goal of the game. At the end of the half, Donovan converted the first of four penalty kicks in the tournament to send the U.S. into halftime with a 2-0 lead. In the 73rd minute, Taylor Twellman scored his first goal of the tournament off a breakaway, and Beasley scored his second goal of the game in the 89th minute off a similar opportunity to close out the game 4-0 and see the United States finish first in Group B.

Date: June 16, 2007
Location: Gillette Stadium – Foxborough, Mass.
Attendance: 22, 412

The U.S. went undefeated in their group, continuing their impressive unbeaten streak in Gold Cup play. The U.S. entered the quarterfinals against Panama, who finished third in Group C behind Honduras and Mexico.

Result: The U.S. defeated Panama 2-0 with most of the action occurring in the second half. Tied 0-0 going into the second half, the U.S. picked up their intensity and when Donovan was pulled down in the box in the 60th minute, he was awarded his second penalty kick of the tournament. He sent a low drive to his right and put the U.S. on the scoreboard. Two minutes later, team captain Carlos Bocanegra doubled the score with a decisive header that put the United States ahead for good. Panama responded in the 85th minute to add a little spice to the finale, but the score stood.

“It’s a good win for us,” said U.S. head coach Bob Bradley. “Going into the match, we felt that Panama had an excellent team and had played very well in group play. We were pleased with our play. We had good chances in the first half, and were disappointed not to be up at halftime, but I think the mentality was to keep going and not lose sight of what we were doing well. We knew the chances would continue to come.”

Date: June 21, 2007
Location: Soldier Field – Chicago
Attendance: 50,760

The U.S. faced Canada in the semifinals, with the Canadians reaching the final four after winning 3-0 against Guatemala. The Americans were looking to defeat their border rivals and capture a spot in the final.

Result: The U.S. defeated Canada 2-1, scoring both goals in the first half. Frankie Hejduk tallied the first goal of the game in the 29th minute off an assist by Donovan. Right before halftime, Beasley was clipped by a Canadian defender on an aggressive run towards the goal and earned a penalty that Donovan converted for his third of the tournament, sending the U.S. into the locker room up 2-0 into halftime. The Canadians would cut the deficit in half in the 76th minute and nearly leveled in the final minutes, but the U.S. prevailed and reached the final for the third time in four tournaments. Kasey Keller earned his 100th cap with the U.S. team on the day, tying Tony Meola for most caps for a U.S. goalkeeper.

Date: June 24, 2007
Location: Soldier Field – Chicago
Attendance: 60,000

Mexico defeated Guadeloupe 1-0 to join the U.S. in the final, pitting the top two Gold Cup title winners against each other with another championship on the line.

“We are very excited to be in the final,” said U.S. head coach Bob Bradley, who improved to 9-0-1 since taking over in December. “As a group, we have worked very hard. When you play in these kinds of tournaments, you have periods where the soccer is good. As a team, you have to fight for each other and survive when the soccer isn’t as good. And when you put it all together, it’s what makes you a team. I feel very good that we are getting stronger, the mentality is getting better, and it is very important to be in the final.”

Result: The U.S. won 2-1 in a valiant come-from-behind effort against the Mexicans. Mexico drew first blood in the 44th minute, sending the Americans down at the half. Brian Ching created a penalty opportunity in the 62nd minute when he was clipped by a Mexican defender in the area. Donovan converted his fourth penalty of the tournament to tie the game. With the goal, Donovan earned a share of the USA’s all-time goal scoring lead along with Eric Wynalda, and also tied Luis Robert Alves of Mexico for the most career goals in the Gold Cup (12). In the 73rd minute, Benny Feilhaber unleashed a  one-time, full-volley blast that rocketed past goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez to give the U.S. a lead they would not surrender.

“This is the kind of effort on the inside of our team that we keep talking about,” said Bradley. “(It is) a result that didn’t come easy, where we had to come from behind and comes from the effort of our entire group. We are proud defending the Gold Cup championship and keeping the trophy in the United States.”

The U.S. won its fourth Gold Cup title in 2007, and with back-to-back titles tied Mexico for all-time tournament wins. The 2007 tournament extended Bradley’s unbeaten record with the U.S. team since taking over at the start of the year, going a perfect 6-0-0 in the Gold Cup. The winner of this year’s games will be the CONCACAF representative at the 2013 FIFA Confederation’s Cup in Brazil, and the U.S. hopes to capture that coveted spot.