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U.S. Finishes Second in 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup After Falling to Mexico at Giants Stadium

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (July 26, 2009) — Playing in their second final of a major international tournament in two months, the U.S. Men’s National Team fell to Mexico this afternoon in the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup in front of a sell out crowd of 79,156 at Giants Stadium.

After a memorable run to the final of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, U.S. head coach Bob Bradley called in a group consisting of mainly young and untested players that produced an impressive winning streak of their own during the Gold Cup, successfully advancing to the team’s third consecutive Gold Cup final and seventh appearance overall. During the tournament, the U.S. saw seven players earn their first cap and six players score their first goal in a U.S. jersey.

Playing their 13th game in 54 days, the U.S. had the better of play in the first half against Mexico, but in the 55th minute Jamaican referee Courtney Campbell awarded Mexico a penalty kick that shifted the momentum. After Gerardo Torrado’s conversion, the U.S. pushed forward in hopes of the equalizer and Mexico was able to capitalize with four more goals in for a 5-0 victory.

The loss to Mexico ended the USA’s 11-game unbeaten streak on U.S. soil against their archrival dating back to 1999, and was the team’s first loss to a CONCACAF opponent at home in 58 matches.

The match is the first of two meetings between the rivals in a three-week span, as Bradley will call on the first team when FIFA World Cup qualifying resumes with a match on Aug. 12 at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.
“There’s no doubt that you want competitors and we are competitors,” Bradley said. “The second half for us is not what we're all about. When you have a game that feels like this at the end you don’t forget it. It’s something that we will always on the inside talk about, be honest about, and hopefully we can use it in a way that we’re better from it today.”

Our focus now is on playing Mexico in Azteca during World Cup qualifying. We start over on that day and have a chance to do something the U.S. hasn’t done before.”

Hot and humid conditions and a soft turf combined for a measured pace to start the game, but as the minutes passed the U.S. settled in nicely. The first decent chance came in the14th minute off a Stuart Holden corner kick. Clarence Goodson had his shirt held throughout the run, barely missing a header. The rebound led to a scramble in the area where Brian Ching nearly won the scrum, but the ball deflected out for another U.S. corner.

After the quarter hour, the U.S. began to find space down the flanks, serving numerous cross into the Mexican penalty area. At the other end, the backline stood solid in dealing with the limited forays of Mexico into the attack, while midfield pressure contained Mexico’s efforts to find any rhythm.

In the 28th minute, a quick counterattack gave the U.S. a numerical advantage heading to goal, with Robbie Rogers leading the charge. Cutting inside, he slid a square pass to Holden, who teed up from 22 yards, sending a low screamer wide of the right post.

Pace quickened in the opening minutes of the second half as Carlos Vela came on to join the Mexico attack and, along with dos Santos, gave the weary U.S. defense fits. Both teams aggressively pursued attacks to goal, but it was the U.S. starting the second half with their best chance of the game. In the 48th minute a Holden floater to the back post was controlled by Rogers with a trap. He hit a rising half-volley that sailed just over the cross bar.

The turning point came in the 56th minute when Giovani dos Santos received the ball in the area with his back to goal, and drew a penalty as he flailed backward while elbowing Heaps, who briefly grabbed his jersey. Torrado converted the opportunity to give Mexico a 1-0 lead.

The U.S. immediately tried to get forward to equalize, and Mexico responded with two consecutive chances to double the lead, with Troy Perkins making point-blank saves to keep the U.S. chances alive.

In the 62nd minute, though, Mexico took a 2-0 advantage. Defeating an offside trap, Vela came in alone on the left side. As Goodson closed, Vela tapped the ball to Miquel Sabeh – the top scorer at the 2009 Gold Cup – and Perkins was called to make a third straight save. The rebound fortuitously bounced right into the path of a crashing dos Santos, who drove the ball into the empty net.

Five minutes later, dos Santos choreographed another Mexico goal. Torrado used an elbow to keep Kyle Beckerman off a 50-50 ball near midfield and turned the ball up field where he found dos Santos. As he dribbled through the middle, he found Vela making a 60-yard run with Heaps trailing. A perfect through ball to Vela set up a perfect chip over Perkins for the Arsenal midfielder that Goodson couldn’t catch up to keep out of the goal.

Two more Mexico goals came down the stretch, the first in the 79th minute. Heath Pearce let Jose Antonio Castro go as he crossed the U.S. backline and Vela slipping a perfect pass through. Alone on goal with Perkins charging, Castro found the lower right corner of the net.

In the final minute, Guillermo Franco closed out the scoring after Heaps was sent off for his second yellow card. Johnny Magallon, who, before Sunday, was one of only three Mexico players to score against the U.S. on U.S. soil this decade – played the ball up the left wing vacated by Heaps where Fausto Pinto could dribble forward. He squared the ball to Franco who had plenty of time to pick out the near post from 19 yards out.

With the victory, Mexico moves back ahead of the U.S. in Gold Cups won, with a 5-4 advantage after the U.S. closed the gap with titles at the 2005 and 2007 events. The next CONCACAF Gold Cup will be played in 2011, when a berth at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup will again be on the line.

The defeat was the worst by the U.S. since a 5-0 loss to England in Los Angeles on June 16, 1985. Mexico’s win on U.S. soil was their first against the Americans since a 2-1 win on March 13, 1999. Between defeats, Mexico posted a 0-9-2 record. The match was the 46th meeting in the rivalry, and the largest margin of victory since a 7-2 by Mexico on April 28, 1957, in Long Beach, Calif., and the first time a team scored five goals against the United States since Czechoslovakia won by a 5-1 margin in the 1990 FIFA World Cup.

Before the game, FIFA President Joseph “Sepp” Blatter scored the first-ever goal in the New Meadowlands Stadium as he toured the facility with executives from the U.S. Soccer Federation and the USA Bid Committee.

USA Bid Committee Executive Director David Downs, U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati, U.S. Soccer CEO and General Secretary Dan Flynn and Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber welcomed Blatter, who was accompanied by CONCACAF President Jack Warner and FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke to the new 82,500-seat stadium, which will open in May 2010 and serve as one of the jewel venues proposed in the U.S. bid to bring the FIFA World Cup to the United States in 2018 or 2022.

Mark Lamping, CEO of the New Meadowlands Stadium, served as host to the executives from FIFA, U.S. Soccer and the USA Bid Committee. Though the $1.6 billion stadium is still well under construction, Lamping and his associates arranged for the installation of a fully-sodded penalty area and a goal where both will ultimately be located for soccer matches. It was there that Blatter was asked to score the first goal in the new stadium. The ball will be later displayed in a place of honor in the stadium’s museum.

Commemorative balls were later presented to Blatter, Valcke and Warner, who is also a FIFA vice president as well as the president of CONCACAF, The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, of which the United States is a member.

                                                       - U.S. Men's National Team Match Report -

Match: United States vs. Mexico
Date: July 26, 2009
Competition: CONCACAF Gold Cup – Final
Venue: Giants Stadium – East Rutherford, New Jersey
Kickoff: 3 p.m. ET
Attendance: 79,156
Weather: 80 degrees and cloudy

Scoring Summary:   1   2   F
USA                              0   0   0
MEX                              0   5   5

MEX – Gerardo Torrado (penalty)                       57th minute
MEX – Giovani Dos Santos                                  64
MEX – Carlos Vela (Giovani Dos Santos)           70
MEX – Israel Castro (Carlos Vela)                       79
MEX – Guillermo Franco (Fausto Pinto)               90

USA: 1-Troy Perkins; 16-Jay Heaps, 4-Chad Marshall, 3-Clarence Goodson, 2-Heath Pearce; 10-Stuart Holden, 8-Logan Pause (20-Santino Quaranta, 64), 5-Kyle Beckerman (15-Sam Cronin, 81), 7-Robbie Rogers; 11-Brian Ching (capt.), 22-Davy Arnaud (17-Kenny Cooper, 64)
Subs not used: 13-Colin Clark, 14-Michael Parkhurst, 21-Brad Evans, 23-Jon Busch
Head Coach: Bob Bradley

MEX: 1-Guillermo Ochoa; 15-Juan Antonio Castro, 21-Juan Valenzuela, 2-Jonny Magallón, 5-Fausto Pinto; 6-Gerardo Torrado (capt.), 22-Efrain Juarez, 8-Israel Castro (16-Carlos Esquivel, 89); 17-Giovani Dos Santos, 14-Miguel Sabah (10-Guillermo Franco, 70), 7-Alberto Medina (11-Carlos Vela, 46)
Subs not used: 3-Ismael Rodriguez, 12-Jose Coronoa, 13-Pablo Barreja, 19-Luis Noriega
Head Coach: Javier Aguirre

Stats Summary: USA / MEX
Shots: 14 / 14
Shots on Goal: 1 / 10
Saves: 5 / 1
Corner Kicks: 4 / 2
Fouls: 8 / 10
Offside: 2 / 3

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Jay Heaps (caution)                               24th minute
USA – Logan Pause (caution)                           27
MEX – Alberto Medina (caution)                        45+
MEX – Miguel Sabah (caution)                           64
MEX – Guillermo Franco (caution)                     73
MEX – Israel Castro (caution)                            80
USA – Jay Heaps (caution)                               88
USA – Jay Heaps (sent off)                              88
USA – Kenny Cooper (caution)                         90+

Referee: Courtney Campbell (JAM)
Assistant Referee 1: Ricardo Morgan (JAM)
Assistant Referee 2: William Torres (SLV)
Fourth Official: Joel Aguilar (SLV) Man of the Match:
Brian Ching