[GOLD CUP SPOTLIGHT] Mexico rallied from two goals down in the first half to beat the USA, 4-2, in the final of the 2011 Gold Cup before 93,420 fans at the Rose Bowl. The title was the sixth for Mexico, which defended its Concacaf title and advanced to the 2013 Confederations Cup. There was an air of inevitability to the Tri's comeback, which underscored the talent gap between the two teams.
Early lead tenuous. Even though it was ahead two goals after 22 minutes, you never got the sense the USA would hold on. Mexico attacked in wave after wave from the opening whistle and could have had two or three goals after the first quarter of an hour. When Pablo Barrera and Andres Guardado pulled Mexico back even only 13 minutes after Landon Donovan made it 2-0, the momentum had completely shifted.
Freddy, where have you been? Who would have predicted two months ago that Freddy Adu would make the U.S. Gold Cup team, let alone be a major contributor. In his first start of the tournament, Adu was the most dangerous U.S. attacker, having a role on both U.S. goals. If he was worried whether he'll find a club next season, he should worry no more. It was the kind of performance that will attract plenty of interest.
Reckless tackling costly. American players are known for their reckless tackling. Less than 200 seconds into the Gold Cup, Jermaine Jones tried to dispossess Giovani dos Santos but only managed to take out Steve Cherundolo, whose departure with an ankle injury left the U.S. backline in disarray.
USA had its chances. Down 3-2 and under pressure from Mexico, the USA had a chance to equalize but Clint Dempsey hit the crossbar. At 4-2, Michael Bradley had wide-open shot that tailed wide of the goal.
Mexico's depth too much. Javier Hernandez (seven goals in the first five games) didn't score for Mexico, but it didn't matter. Mexico has far too much depth. Barrera scored twice, and Guardado and dos Santos also scored.
USA should be worried. The USA's 4-2 loss isn't as bad as its 5-0 defeat -- with a "B" team -- in the 2009 final, but it is clearly falling behind Mexico in terms of talent. The average age of the Tri's front four -- Guardado, dos Santos, Barrera and Hernandez -- is only 23. Four other Mexicans who played in the final are only 23.
June 25 in Pasadena, Calif.
USA 2 Mexico 4. Goals: Bradley 9, Donovan 22; Barrera 28, 49, Guardado 35, dos Santos 77.
USA -- Howard, Cherundolo (Bornstein, 12), Bocanegra, Goodson, Lichaj, Bedoya (Agudelo, 60), Jones, Bradley, Donovan, Dempsey, Adu (Kljestan, 85).
Mexico -- Talavera, Moreno, Marquez (Reynoso, 42), Salcido (Torres, 27), Castro, Torrado, Juarez, Guardado, dos Santos, Barrera (Zavala, 75), Hernandez.
Referee: Joel Aguilar (El Salvador).