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Toronto FC Update 2009   By Aldwyn McGill

Mexico defeat USA for a second time

Still alive in CONCACAF(FIFA.com) Thursday 13 August 2009

It was another action-packed night in the North, Central American and Caribbean zone, as the home sides prevailed. Mexico fought hard to recover from an early deficit and earn a 2-1 victory over USA at the Estadio Azteca, as Trinidad and Tobago managed to hold on in Port of Spain to disappoint struggling El Salvador 1-0. Honduras capped the night with an energetic performance, notching no less than four goals to surprise top-of-the-table Costa Rica. Join FIFA.com for a closer look at all the evening's action from CONCACAF.

Match of the day
Mexico 2-1 USA
Charlie Davies (9), Israel Castro (19), Miguel Sabah (81)

Mexico came from behind to defeat rivals USA 2-1 in their crucial 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier, propelled by punishing strikes from Israel Castro and super-sub Miguel Sabah. USA took the lead in the ninth minute as Charlie Davies finished a counter-attack to slot home at the far post. However, Mexico soon drew level as Castro's long-range shot crashed in off the crossbar.

 

With nine minutes to play, Efraín Juárez made a great penetrating run which drew two defenders, opening up substitute Sabah who struck a hard volley into the top of the net. With the win El Tri stayed fourth in the region, but edged to within just one point of the top half of the table. Javier Aguirre's side are now back in the mix, but their work is not done, as an away date with leaders Costa Rica awaits on 5 September.

In other action
Cornell Glen's early goal was enough to give Trinidad and Tobago three points against El Salvador and reinvigorate their South Africa 2010 dream. The Soca Warriors notched their first victory in the six-nation qualifying group before an overwhelmingly partisan crowd at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. With the result, they drew level with their opponents on five points at the bottom of the standings, four below Mexico.

 

Honduras put on an electric performance in San Pedro Sula, looking dangerous right from the start as they leapfrogged USA into second place by beating leaders Costa Rica 4-0. Carlos Costly started and finished the lesson, with Carlos Pavon and Melvin Valladares adding to the tally for Honduras, who are now two points behind the Ticos and above the USA on goal difference. Costly caught the Costa Rica defence napping to head home the opener in the first half and from then on there was no way back for the visitors.

 

The top three teams in North, Central America and the Caribbean earn automatic qualifying berths to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, while the fourth-placed team will face a two-leg play-off against the fifth-placed finisher in South America for the final berth.

Player of the day - Carlos Costly (HON)
Carlos Costly of Honduras was the leading scorer of the day, finding the net twice [31, 90] as his side rolled over Costa Rica. His active play nearly yielded several more for his side, as he repeatedly danced with the ball deep in the Ticos territory before sending searching passes across the goalmouth for his team-mates.

What they said
"We found it very difficult to settle on the field in the opening minutes and the United States took advantage," said Mexico defender Carlos Salcido. "Then, we became calmer, building our offensive play and our goals finally came."

"We know we're a great team and I think we have what it takes to win here, but today we were a little bit unlucky," said USA forward Charlie Davies, on whether his side's failure to capitalise on their early lead was a missed opportunity. "They were able to control most of the game with possession, and I think that's what hurt us."

The number
1 - The number of goals that the three visiting teams were able to muster in 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifying action in the North, Central American and Caribbean zone.

Mexico defeated USA 2-1 The CONCACAF 2010 World Cup qualifiers will resume on August 12 with a rematch between Mexico and USA after the Mexicans humiliated the Americans 5-0 in the Gold Cup final on July 26. Presently, USA is in second place while Mexico is in the hot 4th spot heading into the August showdown in Mexico City

 

Mexico defeat USA to win its 5th Gold Cup title

East Rutherford, New Jersey: Mexico surprised USA here at Giants Stadium before a sold out crowd of 79,156 of mostly Mexico supporters.  El Tricolor humiliated USA with five unanswered goals in the second half to win its fifth CONCACAF Gold Cup title 5-0.

 

With the win Mexico end the United States 58 game unbeaten streak against CONCACAF opponents and with it end their 10 year winless streak at 15 games against the Americans outside of Mexico. 

 

The result of the Gold Cup final has made the final round of the CONCACAF 2010 qualifiers all the more interesting with the emergence of their young and talented marquee midfielder De Santos.

 

De Santos opened up the game with his creativity and after drawing a penalty which gave Mexico the lead. He scored the second goal to start the rout as substitute Vela, Jose Antonio and Franco round off the scoring to put the finishes touches to a disputed penalty, which captain Torrado converted.

 The penalty was awarded in the 56 minute when De Santos became entangled with defender Jay Heaps and referee Courtney Campbell pointed to the penalty spot much to the delight of the partisan Mexican crowd.

 

"I do not think it was a penalty," USA coach Bradley insisted at the press conference, but from my vantage point Bradley conveniently forgot that their was a second penalty overlooked by referee Campbell,  where De Santos was clearly brought down in the area after eluding his defender.

 

 

When asked to comment on the penalty De Santos responded "I think there was a second one that the referee didn't call, that was a lot cleaner than the first one," said Dos Santos. "But that is the way soccer is. The refs do their jobs just like we do ours. The end of the game was ours and everything went our way."

 

In sport for the most part you get what you put in and although USA has been playing inspired soccer throughout the tournament, it is no secret that coach Bradley was juggling a 30 man roster which took its tool on the continuity, chemistry and quality of the American team.

 

Mexico’s seems to be building their team around Gold Cup MVP Giovani De Santos who at the age of 20 has a tremendous future after stints with Barcelona, Ipswich Town, and now Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premiership.

 

Coach Aguirre is also coming into his own with timely changes after his 3-game suspension. Aguirre pivotal move was the halftime substitution of Vela for Medina. Vela combined with De Santos and contributed to the scoring with a goal and two assists.

 

The first half of play was fairly even but one could sense that USA was having trouble offensively after breaking up a lot of Mexico ill advise crosses in the air which favored the taller USA defenders.

 

Mexico had success when De Santos utilized his dribbling ability to penetrate the USA defense which created space for his team mates. However, #7 Alberto Medina was muffing most of the plays in which Mexico could have surged ahead.

Medina did not help his cause when he failed to get off a shot just before the half after being wide open on a glorious  scoring opportunity. Needless to say he was replaced by Vela for the second half.

 

In the second half Mexico attack had a definite punch with Vela combining with De Santos to draw the penalty which gave Mexico the lead. Then six minutes later De Santos scored on a rebound to double the Mexico.

 

Then came the back breaker in the 67th minute when De Santos fed Vela for the third goal to give Mexico and its fans a premature party celebration. Vela was the spark plug in the second half and in the 79th minute he set up Jose Castro to give Mexico a 4-0 lead.

 

Guillermo Franco provided Mexico with its the fifth and final score as Mexico walk away with its fifth Gold Cup title. With the historic win over USA the Mexican supporters are hopeful that their team can climb back as the #1 team in CONCACAF.

 

However, before that can happen Mexico will have to take care of USA in their next World Cup qualifier game on August 12th in Mexico.

 

"We were expecting to win this game before it was even played, but not with such a wide difference." Coach Aguirre explained "The 90 minutes that we played against the U.S. ends today and on August 12, we have another game.

 

CONCACAF Gold Cup Final Four

Honduras defeat Canada 1-0 last Saturday to advance into the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup semi finals. The Catrachos secured their quarterfinal win from a penalty converted by Walter Martinez in the first half of play.

With the win Honduras secured its third appearance in the semi finals of the Gold Cup and has marked the occasion with its third victory over Canada in their last three meetings which includes the two 2010 W-C qualifier matches.

However, although Honduras record is impressive against Canada, the games between the teams are close and this one was no different. The Catrachos was awarded a penalty in the 36th minute when Canada defender and team captain Paul Staltieri was cautioned for a questionable infraction on striker Martinez.

Staltieri argued the call for what many thought was a handball infraction, but it as it turned out it was revealed that Staltieri yellow card caution was for tugging Martinez's jersey after disputing the decision by Salvadoran referee.

When Hart was asked about the penalty against his team, he responded, "From the end of the bench, it looked phantom to me". The recipient Martinez, did not help the referee’s caused when he disclosed through a translator “All referees make mistakes and are human”, and “I didn't think it was a penalty, but I was able to score."

My version of the penalty situation is that although the foul that drew the penalty could have been overlooked; a penalty could have been easily given earlier in the game for what I consider a more serious infraction against Staltieri on the same player (Martinez) in the area.

However, on this day Canada did not score or make use of their chances in a game which a winner had to emerge and while Julian De Guzman coordinated the midfield plays, Canada vertical game was too slow developing against a fast Honduras team.

Canada cross balls on set plays especially corner kicks were low and short and there was limited penetration on the flank. Honduras deserves credit for neutralizing  the Canadian midfield and has evolved into a formidable force in the CONCACAF region.

"I'm very proud of the players,"  "I think we showed a lot of character." Canada interim coach Stephen Hart maintained

Canada has made significant progress in the short time that Stephen Hart has returned to the men senior team, and it is my belief that the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) should give Hart a long-term contract as the head coach of the team.

In the second quarterfinal at Lincoln Financial Field, USA was in yet another dramatic finish after defeating Panama 2-1 on a Kenny Cooper penalty scored in the first half of overtime in front of a crowd of 31,087.

The semi final stage of the CONCACAF Gold Cup is set for Thursday at Chicago's Soldier Field where USA and Honduras will tangle for a second time in the tournament, and Mexico take on Costa Rica in the other semi final match.

Revenge and tactical awareness would be a factor for Honduras after coming up on the short end of a 2-0 decision in the group stage. The two coach’s response to my question to them about their assessment of the tempo of the game indicated that this second meeting would be a tactical battle.

Honduras coach Reinaldo Rueda was convinced that his team had the speed to get the job done and reinforced that notion after his team latest win over Canada, while USA coach Bradley was confident that as long as the game is wide open, his team athleticism gives them the better chance to win.

However, the Mexico-Costa Rica semi final is a different type of game base on the similar styles of the teams which makes the game too close to call unless one of the teams has a big letdown which seems remote after their last game.

Both Mexico and Costa Rica are coming off impressive offensively displays after defeating Haiti 4-0 and Guadeloupe 5-1 respectively. However, the game is a big test for Mexico to resurface as a force in the region but would be tested severely without their suspended coach Aguirre.

A Mexico win and Aguirre would return to the team for the final, but a loss to Costa Rica and Aguirre life could be a bunch of nerves, since he would have to get his team ready for an all important World Cup qualifier game on August 12.

With USA and Costa Rica as their two next opponents in the World Cup qualifiers, and the same two teams on his plate in reverse order if successful at the 2009 Gold Cup, Aguirre and his Mexico team would have to be ready or face the thought of playing a South American team to qualify to South Africa.

 

 

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