Mexico booked a ticket to the 2013 Confederations Cup, courtesy of a 4-2 win over the United States, claiming their second consecutive Gold Cup.
The U.S. took a 2-0 lead early, within the first 20 minutes of play, and it seemed like this would be another one of those games where America gets the better of its rival; it's happened before. Pound for pound, Mexico has the better players, better brand of football; but when games are played on American soil, the U.S. has always rose up to the occasion and beaten Mexico.
This time however, it was Mexico who showed steely reserve and determination, battling back to tie the game at the interval, then stepping it up a notch in the second half. Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez may have been the tournament's MVP, but it was Giovani dos Santos who gave the American backline fits.
When Steve Cherundolo left the game through injury, the momentum swung in Mexico's favor as they consistently got behind America's defense with relative ease. As much as you would like to avoid pinning the loss on one player's absence, all 4 of Mexico's goals were scored from the side that would have normally been covered by Cherundolo. Jonathan Bornstein - his replacement - was found wanting on several occasions. I’ll give credit to Mexico for finding a weak spot and exploiting to their advantage.
Prior to America's woes in defense, the bigger storyline had been the inclusion of Freddy Adu in the starting lineup. There was once upon a time, when Freddy Adu was billed as the next big thing on the American sports scene. It seemed like ages ago, and he had all but become a forgotten man. Still, he had a solid game and contributed to both of America's goals. One can only hope that maybe he'll be in the picture going forward.
Despite trailing 4-2, the game was never really out of America's reach. They still mustered a few chances and who knows what another goal might have done for them. Clint Dempsey had a well taken shot that beat Mexican goalie Alfredo Talavera, only to hit the crossbar. Later on, after both Dempsey and Talavera challenged a cross, the ball fell to Michael Bradley, who fired wide despite an open goal. With only minutes left in the game, America once again got behind Mexico's defense, but lacked the necessary touches to get another goal.
At the end of the day, Mexico walked away deserved winners, while the U.S. goes back to the drawing board. After taking giant strides forward in the with impressive outings in the 2009 Confederations Cup and last year's World Cup, there's still a lot of work to do before they are able to consistently challenge some of the best teams around.