June 25, 2011

Gold Cup Final 2nd half action

Mexico has dominated possession so far, 58:42. As the players come out for the second half, both sides will be looking to take the lead and put the other team away. It's 2-2 at the Rose Bowl.

50'. Mexico breaks, and after a threaded pass to Barrera, he has a strike and sends a bending ball past Tim Howard. Mexico lead for the first time in this game.

52'. US corner, Bocanagra connects in front of the keeper. Despite a deflection from Talavera, the ref rules it a goal kick.

54' Continued pressure from the likes of Dos Santos and Barrera forcing the US defense the look alive.

58'. Foul on Freddy Adu as he weaves his way through 2 defenders. Can the US capitalize on this free kick, Donovan and Adu standing over it... Adu takes it, over the wall, but Talavera able to catch it.

60'. Dempsey blasts a shot off the crossbar. The ball came off a tackle on Bradley, falling in front of Dempsey who hits a beautiful one-time curling shot off the frame.

63'. Juan Agudelo is warming up on the sideline. The US breaks down the center only to lose it off of a  pass just behind Jermaine Jones. Mexico counters down the right flank and force the US into a clearance. Agudelo comes in, replacing Bedoya

67'. The game is really going back and forth at this point. The US is struggling to get out of the the middle third, while Mexico is trying to find another goal to go with the pressure they're putting on the US.

70'. The game is clearly becoming more physical, with each side committing chippy fouls. Bocanegra goes down, free kick US. Donovan sends the ball in, Goodson flicks a header further into the box, with Bocanegra sending it just over the bar with his head.

75'. The US continue to give the ball away when forming an attack, being forced to play back to the keeper. Mexico use their last substitution, Barrera out for Zavala

76'. Mexico takes a 4-2 lead through a Gio Dos Santos goal. Howard attempts the collect the ball but Dos Santos teases is away from the keeper, lofting the ball just over Lichaj into the top corner.

80'. Talavera forced to punch out a cross destined for Dempsey. Bradley hits the keeper's punch on the volley and curls it just wide of the left post. The US really needed that strike if they want to come back and win this game.

 81'. Foul on Mexico, yellow card for Torres Nilo's challenge on Adu. Free kick in but the US unable to test the keeper, unable to get past the defense.

84'. Dempsey hits one high and wide. The US are desperate for a goal to jumpstart a comeback, but are having no luck on the attack, being frustrated by Mexico's defense sniffing out the obvious chances.

86'. Sacha Kljestan comes on for Freddy Adu. The US trying to inject some energy in their cause.

87'. The US breaks down the right flank and into the box,only to put the ball just wide of the post. Dempsey picks up a yellow card

90'. The game is nearly over, the US trying long lofted balls towards the danger area, but are having no luck bringing the ball down and posing a threat. Mexico is able to time and time again break down the US' form and take the ball to the corner. 3 minutes of extra time have been announced.

92'. Donovan puts a ball in across goal but Mexico's defense able to smother the ball before it ban threaten the net. Mexico surely now has sealed victory.

The final whistle has blown, and Mexico emerge as Gold Cup champions. Maintaining their unbeaten streak under coach José Manuel de la Torre, the game finishes Mexico 4-2 USA.
Goals for the US: Bradley 8', Donovan 23'
Goals for Mexico: Barrera 29', Guardado 36', Barrera 50', Dos Santos 76'

Gold Cup Final big plays of the first half

Michael Bradley nods the US men's first goal home against Mexico in Pasadena, CA

The game opens with Chicharito nearly latching onto a quick pass between the defenders. Onsides, Hernandez hit it just wide of Tim Howard's net.

8'. Michael Bradley takes on a Freddy Adu cross, knocking the ball to the far post for the game's first goal in the *' minute.

14'. Chicharito hits a shot from a cutting pass from Barrera, only to have it come off the post. Howard recovers, and the defense scrambles the ball out of the danger area.

11'. Steve Cherundolo subbed off with a sprained ankle for Jonathan Bornstein. Lichaj shifts over to right back.

24'. Freddy Adu finds Landon Donovan, Donovan passes to Dempsey, continues his run towards goal, takes a touch after a give and go and drills the left footed shot near post.

26' Despite some pressure by Mexico, Freddy Adu finds his way back into the box, takes on 2 defenders, and puts a curling shot just to the right of goal.

28'. After a quick throw in and substitution, Mexico works a long ball to Barrera past Bornstein and slots it home. Including this game, the US has kept a shutout in 4 of 6 games in this tournament. This is the first goal against for the US since the 2-1 group stage loss to Panama.

33' Donovan yellow card, first booking of the day. Catches the center back Marquez going for a lifted through ball from Bornstein.

36'. Gio Dos Santos puts a shot in aiming for the far post. Lichaj sticks out a leg but only sets it up for Guardado, who hits it before Howard can get to it. The ball rolls into the net to make the game 2-2

38'. Freddy Adu takes a couple studs to the head, on replay the stamp looked intentional, Mexican player lucky not to see yellow or red.

42'. Marquez goes down, has to be stretchered off due to a hamstring injury. While being carried off, takes off captain's arm band, has to be substituted for Hector Reynoso, the 2nd of Mexico's 3.

As the half winds down, it's all Mexico. Maintaining possession, they continue to try the long ball into the attacking third, making the US defenders work to keep the score 2-2. It's been an attacking game, it's been an entertaining game. Despite being in front of a simulated away crowd, team USA has been able to break down the Mexican defense, scoring the same number of goals against Mexico as they've conceded during the entire tournament up to this point. The Mexican attack has proved deadly, coming from behind to even up the score. Let's see what happens in the next half. It's USA - 2, Mexico - 2 after 45 minutes at the Rose Bowl.

Gold Cup Final: USA vs. México

My predictions on the 2011 Gold Cup final between the United States and Mexico.

1. México will come out looking to score early against team USA. Defending early on has been the American's Achilles heal, so the probable combination of Clarence Goodson and Carlos Bocanegra will need to communicate and track back when on the backheal in order to keep Tim Howard's net safe. They can expect a lot of pressure outside of the box; a single penetrating run onto a through ball is all it will take for El Tri to get on the score sheet.

2. México will draw a penalty, while the USA will not in a similar situation.

3. Chicharito and Clint Dempsey will both score. Both players are at their best on the attack, as they have been throughout not only this tournament but the past Premiership season as well. Both players are also passionate competitors, both possessing the strong desire and will to win. Chicharito is still on his way up the projected super-star ladder, while Dempsey is at the peak of his career. Expect them each to have a huge impact in their respective teams' performances.

4. Landon Donovan will start. Left on the bench the last two games after returning from his sister's wedding on the day of the game against Jamaica, Donovan will be looking to start against the arch-rivals. His performance against Panama in the semi-finals, coming from off the bench to deliver a ball into Clint Dempsey's feet for the game winning goal, will certainly help coach Bob Bradley in his decision. Look for him on the wing in midfield.

5. The winning side will need to utilize an unsung hero to prevail. In the case of the US, this could come in the form of Freddy Adu, Jermaine Jones, Steve Cherundolo, even Eric Lichaj. Whether in the form of a cutting pass, a perfect cross, or a decisive goal, these players have stood out in this tournament amongst stars like Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, and Tim Howard. This is the perfect opportunity for each of them to truly cement their reputation in the US line-up with a good performance.