USA Vs. Mexico, 2011 Gold Cup Final: Mexico Wins 2011 Gold Cup, Beats USA 4-2 In Final

Despite finding themselves behind 2-0 early in the 2011 Gold Cup Final, Mexico came roaring back to defeat the United States 4-2 at the Rose Bowl, with a brace from Pablo Barrera vital to the win.

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For The United States, A New Cycle Starts Now, Especially At Central Defense

For teams in the Americas, new cycles start a year after the World Cup, not immediately afterwards. With the Gold Cup behind them, it's time for the United States to start over and look towards their young stars.

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USA Vs. Mexico, 2011 Gold Cup Final: Cherundolo's Best and Bradley's End - The Bent Musket

When Steve Cherundolo went down Saturday against Mexico, all the energy and effort from the US Men's National Team seemed to go with him. From there manager Bob Bradley went to his bench and placed probably the one guy that few US fans wanted to see on the field, Jonathan Bornstein. A decision like that could easily cost Bradley his job with the USMNT. 

Steve Stoehr at SB Nation's New England Revolution Blog The Bent Musket saw Cherundolo's injury as a deal breaker for the US against Mexico. The substitution of Bornstein instead of moving Eric Lichaj or Carlos Bocanegra around in the defense proved to be too costly.

That substitution was a case of Bob Bradley continuing to play inexplicable favorites. Bornstein has been a Bradley era mainstay ever since he took over the national team, and one thing that Bob has always done is stick to his shortlist of favored players. Another thing he's demonstrated is an inability to adjust tactics when playing with the lead. The fact that the Yanks went from 2-0 up to a 2-4 loss should be all the indication anyone needs that he has gotten no better at that.

Bradley's tactics lend themselves to being an underdog. He tends to come out with a slightly lame gameplan early on that is focused on weathering the storm and trying to discover opponents' weaknesses in the first half, almost as though he's doing all of his scouting in-game. Then, "Coach Rope-a-dope" makes tactical switches and subs in the second half, snatching a draw from the jaws of defeat or managing a gutsy one- or two-goal victory. Against equal or lesser opposition, or if the USA unexpectedly gains an advantage early, this tactic nearly always comes back to bite him.

I've always said that Bornstein was a "Bradley guy" and that he could one day cost Bradley more than just a big game like this one against Mexico. It is always the little things that go the longest way in sports and it's possible that Cherundolo's injury resulted in one of the worst possible moves by Bradley. 

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Gold Cup Final 2011, USA Vs. Mexico: Giovani Dos Santos Has A Breakout Performance

Between his unbelievable performances at the 2005 FIFA Under-17 World Championships and his appearances for Spanish giants FC Barcelona as a 17 year old, Giovani dos Santos was billed as a world class star of the future when he was a teenager. He was regarded as the best Mexican player since Hugo Sanchez, and along with Carlos Vela and the rest of that Under-17 team, he was going to guide Mexico to glory that they hadn't yet achieved.

Since then, dos Santos has struggled to get playing time at Tottenham Hotspur and has failed to become first choice for Mexico, at least until right before the Gold Cup started. When Jose Manuel 'Chepo' de la Torre was appointed manager of Mexico, he inserted veteran playmaker Sinha into the starting XI, starting with Gio on the bench.

Then, an odd sequence of events lead to dos Santos being inserted into the starting lineup. A couple of weeks before the tournament, Sinha's father died, forcing him to travel home to Brazil and forcing Gio into the starting lineup. On June 1, eight days before the Gold Cup started, dos Santos scored a brace in a friendly against New Zealand, all but solidifying his starting place, at least for the opening match of the Gold Cup.

Just hours before the first game of the tournament, Sinha and 'Hobbit' Christian Bermudez, the other central attacking midfielder in the team, were sent home for doping, leaving dos Santos as the only player in his position on the Mexico roster. Hours after his teammates were sent home, Gio scored another brace.

He was absolutely brilliant throughout the tournament, but Saturday night is when dos Santos shined the brightest, scoring the goal of the tournament and showing off his pace and creativity over and over again. He got off to a decent start, even as the United States were in control of the match, then ripped them apart in the final 60 minutes of the game.

Whether or not Harry Redknapp is interested in giving Giovani dos Santos another chance to win a spot at Tottenham Hotspur is not something that we can be sure of yet, but after this performance, there's a good chance that you'll get to see him playing regular club football somewhere next season. And if you want to see more of him now, you're in luck. Tottenham has allowed Mexico to take him to Copa America, where he will play with a different, younger Mexico squad on which he will be one of the senior members.

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Gold Cup Final 2011 Score, USA Vs. Mexico: Full Time, El Tri Defeats USMNT 4-2

Saturday night, in the final of the 2011 Gold Cup, the United States came out and played an ambitious style. They put their best technical players on the pitch, threw caution to the wind for the most part, and tried to beat Mexico at their own game. For 22 minutes, it worked. Then Mexico came out of their fuzzy state of disbelief, started playing football, and scored four goals in a row. Despite a valiant effort on the part of the USMNT, El Tri were just too much tonight, and they are the Gold Cup champions after winning by a final score of 4-2.

Mexico started extremely strong in the opening minutes of the game, but could not find a goal. In the 9th minute, it appeared as if they would live to regret their misses, as the United States got on the board with a goal against the run of play. Steve Cherundolo and Freddy Adu combined down the right flank to create a corner kick, which Adu took for the U.S.. He hit a ball to the near post which Michael Bradley ran onto and headed into the back of the net, and just like that the United States had a shock lead.

Unfortunately for them, Cherundolo sustained an injury either creating that corner or shortly before, and he was forced out of the game with an injury. Jonathan Bornstein came into the match, forcing Eric Lichaj to right back, and that changed the game considerably.

Still, despite that setback, the U.S. was able to find a fantastic second goal through Landon Donovan. The USMNT's all-time leading goal scorer started the game as a lone striker, but when he struggled to find the ball, he was swapped with Dempsey. That move paid off instantly for Bob Bradley, as Freddy Adu, Dempsey and Donovan combined for an impressive goal, created by Donovan's off the ball run from behind Dempsey.

That 2-0 lead didn't hold long, though, as Mexico would find a goal against the run of play in the 28th minute. The injury to Cherundolo proved costly as Bornstein was caught out of position on a counter-attack, allowing Pablo Barrera to get inside him and run onto a through ball, then score past Tim Howard.

Before halftime, Mexico would find an equalizer through Andres Guardado, who was an injury doubt before the start of the match. His 35th minute goal was the second in seven minutes for El Tri, and just like that, the USMNT's lead was erased. The two teams would go into halftime tied 0-0, but Mexico had the obvious momentum.

However, for all of Mexico's momentum, they still had setbacks. Two members of their starting back line, Carlos Salcido and Rafael Marquez, picked up knocks in the first half and had to be substituted out, robbing 'Chepo' Jose Manuel de la Torre of two tactical subs. Salcido was replaced by Jose Torres Nilo, who has plenty of experience, but Marquez was replaced by a debutant, Hector Reynoso of Chivas de Guadalajara.

Those injuries did not affect Mexico much at all in the second half, and Mexico claimed the lead that most knew was coming eventually in the 49th minute. Pablo Barrera showed off his speed again, powering through a disorganized United States backline to give himself space to shoot, then curling a fantastic finish around Howard to put Mexico ahead for good.

Clint Dempsey almost brought the United States back into the game when he hit the crossbar with a brilliant shot in the 59th minute, but that would be the closest the United States came to getting back into the match. In the 76th minute, Giovani dos Santos capped off what was arguably a man of the match performance with what was easily the most brilliant goal of the six scored in the game, as he hit an absolutely audacious chip into the upper 90 at the far post from 15 yards away. That goal was the dagger, and Mexico took the trophy with a 4-2 win.

The United States will walk away from this match disappointed, just like they would after any loss, but despite giving up four unanswered goals, they shouldn't walk away ashamed. They took the game to Mexico early and attempted to beat them with an attacking style instead of playing in a defensive shell, and for that they should be commended. El Tri just had too much quality on the night, and their win was well deserved.

For more on how the two teams got to this point, check out our USA vs. Panama stream and our Mexico vs. Honduras stream. For more updates leading up to USA vs. Mexico, bookmark this StoryStream. For all of our previous Gold Cup coverage, check out the Gold Cup 2011 section. For more on Mexican football, including the Mexican national team, the Mexico vs. USA game, and the Mexican Primera, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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Gold Cup Final 2011 Score, USA Vs. Mexico: Giovani Dos Santos Scores Unbelievable Dagger Goal

The United States had slowly but surely been coming back into the Gold Cup Final against Mexico between Pablo Barrera's second goal and the 76th minute, but they're now in some serious trouble and there appears to be no way back. Giovani dos Santos has been brilliant all night for El Tri, but in classic Gio fashion, has missed all of his shots just inches wide. Until now.

Mexico now leads by a score of 4-2, thanks to an absolutely unbelievable chip goal by dos Santos. With just barely over 10 minutes to play, that goal is almost certainly the dagger, and Mexico should be walking away from this one as Gold Cup champions. 

Tim Howard and the United States defense gifted the opportunity to Gio, as they desperately flailed around out of position in an attempt to clear the ball. Howard went down after the ball but completely missed as Gio dribbled away. Still, he had a lot of traffic to deal with, so instead of playing a conventional shot, he hit a chip towards the far post. He hit the far upper 90 so perfectly that, despite the presence of defenders on the line, they had no chance to clear the ball as it sailed into the back of the net.

For more on how the two teams got to this point, check out our USA vs. Panama stream and our Mexico vs. Honduras stream. For more updates leading up to USA vs. Mexico, bookmark this StoryStream. For all of our previous Gold Cup coverage, check out the Gold Cup 2011 section. For more on Mexican football, including the Mexican national team, the Mexico vs. USA game, and the Mexican Primera, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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Gold Cup Final 2011, USA Vs. Mexico: Juan Agudelo Comes In For Alejandro Bedoya

Down 3-2 to a superior Mexico side in the 2011 Gold Cup final, Bob Bradley needed to take a gamble, and he hasn't disappointed, deploying highly rated New York Red Bulls striker Juan Agudelo to see if he can get the United States back into the match. Alejandro Bedoya is the sacrifice, and in all honesty the 24-year-old didn't really do enough out on the right side to break up Mexico's game or help the US' attacking players.

Although the substitution is a striker for a midfielder, Bradley's shape stays the same: Agudelo will go up top and goalscorer Landon Donovan will drop back into the right wing spot vacated by Bedoya. It's still, overall, an attacking move, but we haven't seen any huge tactical shift from the USA yet. If the score stays the same for the next ten minutes or so, expect to get a fairly major one.

And for the sake of New York Red Bulls fans around the world, let's hope nothing happens to their prize youngster. They've already lost captain Rafael Marquez to an injury today, after all.

For more on how the two teams got to this point, check out our USA vs. Panama stream and our Mexico vs. Honduras stream. For more updates leading up to USA vs. Mexico, bookmark this StoryStream. For all of our previous Gold Cup coverage, check out the Gold Cup 2011 section. For more on Mexican football, including the Mexican national team, the Mexico vs. USA game, and the Mexican Primera, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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Gold Cup Final 2011, USA Vs. Mexico: Clint Dempsey Rattles Crossbar

Since scoring their third goal Mexico have continued to threaten, but it looks like the United States might be getting back into this game. They're not going down without a fight, and they're coming at Mexico with serious pace now. They could very easily be level if not for a pesky crossbar, which has denied Clint Dempsey a brilliant goal.

During a nice sustained attack, a cross from Jonathan Bornstein was knocked down to Michael Bradley, who was able to find Dempsey in traffic. The Fulham man didn't look like he had a whole lot of space, but he found a shooting lane and hit a great dipping shot that completely fooled Alfredo Talavera. Unfortunately for the USMNT, his shot didn't dip fast enough, and it rattled off the crossbar, denying Dempsey a potentially brilliant equalizer.

Bradley and Jermaine Jones have come more into the game in the last 10 minutes, which has been the biggest difference for the US. They were nowhere to be found between the 25th and 50th minutes, but are now asserting their athletic superiority over the Mexican central midfielders.

For more on how the two teams got to this point, check out our USA vs. Panama stream and our Mexico vs. Honduras stream. For more updates leading up to USA vs. Mexico, bookmark this StoryStream. For all of our previous Gold Cup coverage, check out the Gold Cup 2011 section. For more on Mexican football, including the Mexican national team, the Mexico vs. USA game, and the Mexican Primera, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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Gold Cup Final 2011 Score, USA Vs. Mexico: Pablo Barrera Nets Brace, El Tri Leads

Well, that didn't take long. It was obvious after their first goal that Mexico were taking the momentum in the match, and after their second goal they appeared to be firmly in control. Consequently, it should come as absolutely no surprise that with less than five minutes gone in the second half, Mexico has scored another goal. They now lead the United States by a score of 3-2, thanks to a great finish and another goal by Pablo Barrera.

As El Tri surged forward on the counter yet again, they did a fantastic job of flooding the area around Tim Howard's penalty area with more bodies than the United States could mark. With various players making runs from deep, the USMNT defenders had no idea who to pick up and, in their confusion, they left space for Barrera. He cut into the box from the right wing and made himself space from about 15 yards out, then curled an absolutely brilliant finish around Howard. Mexico lead, and they don't look like relinquishing it. However, this is one of those games where anything can happen at any time.

For more on how the two teams got to this point, check out our USA vs. Panama stream and our Mexico vs. Honduras stream. For more updates leading up to USA vs. Mexico, bookmark this StoryStream. For all of our previous Gold Cup coverage, check out the Gold Cup 2011 section. For more on Mexican football, including the Mexican national team, the Mexico vs. USA game, and the Mexican Primera, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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Gold Cup Final 2011 Score, USA Vs. Mexico: USMNT And El Tri Tied 2-2 At Halftime

Over the course of the Gold Cup, both the United States and Mexico have gotten off to slow starts, but played very well defensively. Because of that recent historical precedent, conventional wisdom coming into the Gold Cup Final between the USMNT and El Tri was that goals were going to be hard to come by. Oh, how wrong everyone was. At halftime from the Rose Bowl, the game is tied up at a score of 2-2 after and absolutely thrilling first half of action.

It was a tale of two halves within the first half, as the United States came out guns blazing, but Mexico recovered and was the much better team in the latter part of the 45 minute period. The opening five minutes or so were all Mexico, but the U.S. took a shock lead in the 9th minute when Michael Bradley headed in a Freddy Adu corner kick. The game would get even more surprising in the 22nd minute, when Landon Donovan scored off of a fantastic assist by Clint Dempsey.

The tide turned afterwards, though, as Mexico quickly answered with two goals of their own. Pablo Barrera exploited poor positioning by substitute Jonathan Bornstein with a counter-attacking goal in the 28th minute, just seven minutes before Andres Guardado found an equalizer. The match settled down a bit when the teams got back on level terms, but Mexico were the slightly better side for the final 10 minutes.

This game has already featured a number of injures, as Mexico have made two injury substitutions and the United States have made one. Jose Torres Nilo has come on for Carlos Salcido while Hector Reynoso has come on for captain Rafael Marquez, both like for like changes for Mexico. For the U.S. Jonathan Bornstein entered for Steve Cherundolo, a move that forced Eric Lichaj to right back.

For more on how the two teams got to this point, check out our USA vs. Panama stream and our Mexico vs. Honduras stream. For more updates leading up to USA vs. Mexico, bookmark this StoryStream. For all of our previous Gold Cup coverage, check out the Gold Cup 2011 section. For more on Mexican football, including the Mexican national team, the Mexico vs. USA game, and the Mexican Primera, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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Gold Cup Final 2011 Score, USA Vs. Mexico: Rafael Marquez Injury Forces Captain Out

it's been a crazy first half in the 2011 Gold Cup final, but perhaps the most important thing to happen came after the goal flurry that saw Michael Bradley, Landon Donovan, Pablo Barrera and Andres Guardado all see the scoresheet. In what looked like an innocuous piece of play deep in the Mexican half, captain Rafael Marquez went down in a heap and signaled for a stretcher. Unlike his previous 'injuries' this one turned out to be serious - he's out with a right hamstring injury and Hector Reynoso has had to come on in his place.

Reynoso, of course, wasn't on the original Gold Cup roster for El Tri, being named to the squad after the 'tainted chicken' doping scandal during the group stages saw five Mexico players sent home. Earning his first cap during a major cup final must be a huge thrill to him, but one would imagine that he would rather it have come under less painful circumstances for his captain. So must New York Red Bull fans - without Marquez their defence has looked more than a little porous as of late, and if he's out long term (which the stretcher implies), New York could be in trouble.

For more on how the two teams got to this point, check out our USA vs. Panama stream and our Mexico vs. Honduras stream. For more updates leading up to USA vs. Mexico, bookmark this StoryStream. For all of our previous Gold Cup coverage, check out the Gold Cup 2011 section. For more on Mexican football, including the Mexican national team, the Mexico vs. USA game, and the Mexican Primera, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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Gold Cup Final 2011 Score, USA Vs. Mexico: Andres Guardado Goal Levels Game At 2-2

After getting off to an absolute dream start, the United States are now in some serious trouble. While they are not yet losing the game, momentum has completely swung and is on the side of Mexico, who have scored yet again to level the match at 2-2. This time, it was Andres Guardado who scored, further solidifying his claim as the player of the tournament in the 2011 Gold Cup.

It looked like Tim Howard was going to be able to stuff Guardado's shot when he got into the box, but the crafty winger was able to get his shot just barely by Howard, who made contact with the ball but couldn't push it off target. The ball dribbled towards the far post where 'Chicharito' Javier Hernandez was standing, but in an offside position. Hernandez intelligently realized that he was offside and that the ball was going to just barely find the net and opted not to touch it in the last second, allowing Guardado to score a legal goal and tie the game up at 2-2.

For more on how the two teams got to this point, check out our USA vs. Panama stream and our Mexico vs. Honduras stream. For more updates leading up to USA vs. Mexico, bookmark this StoryStream. For all of our previous Gold Cup coverage, check out the Gold Cup 2011 section. For more on Mexican football, including the Mexican national team, the Mexico vs. USA game, and the Mexican Primera, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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Gold Cup Final 2011 Score, USA Vs. Mexico: Pablo Barrera Goal Cuts USMNT Lead

Just as soon as the United States took a 2-0 lead, that lead has been slashed back to one goal. Mexico are back within a manageable margin with a goal of their own, and the score is now 2-1 in favor of the USMNT. There have already been three goals in under 30 minutes, as this has been an absolute cracker of a match so far. This goal was scored by Pablo Barrera, Mexico's right winger, and the USA have only themselves to blame.

Jonathan Bornstein entered the game early as a substitute thanks to an injury to Steve Cherundolo, and he's had a rude awakening in this one. Bornstein seemed to have corrected his old error-prone ways, but coming in as a defensive substitute is never easy, and Bornstein got downright abused. As Barrera ran onto a through ball, Bornstein was caught completely out of position as Barrera ran by him onto the ball, then slotted the ball into the back of the net.

For more on how the two teams got to this point, check out our USA vs. Panama stream and our Mexico vs. Honduras stream. For more updates leading up to USA vs. Mexico, bookmark this StoryStream. For all of our previous Gold Cup coverage, check out the Gold Cup 2011 section. For more on Mexican football, including the Mexican national team, the Mexico vs. USA game, and the Mexican Primera, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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Gold Cup Final 2011 Score, USA Vs. Mexico: Landon Donovan Goal Puts USMNT 2-0 Up

Mexico have held a majority of the possession and even hit the post once, but it hasn't mattered. Bob Bradley came out with a completely different strategy than anyone could have expected, and right now, it's working perfectly and he looks like a genius. After 24 minutes, the United States is improbably leading 2-0 thanks to a goal by Landon Donovan, assisted by Clint Dempsey. Surprise, surprise, Freddy Adu was once involved in the goal, making three straight USMNT goals that featured some prominent involvement from the resurgent attacking midfielder.

Moments before the USA scored their goal, Bradley made an adjustment, bringing Donovan back into the midfield and moving Dempsey up top, which was exactly how most thought they would start the game. Donovan had been struggling to get the ball, and obviously Bradley wanted to change that. Almost instantly after making the adjustment, Dempsey dropped back to pick up the ball from Adu and Donovan made a great off the ball run into space. Dempsey played him a perfect ball and he rounded Alfredo Talavera, getting himself space to shoot before putting the ball into the back of the net.

For more on how the two teams got to this point, check out our USA vs. Panama stream and our Mexico vs. Honduras stream. For more updates leading up to USA vs. Mexico, bookmark this StoryStream. For all of our previous Gold Cup coverage, check out the Gold Cup 2011 section. For more on Mexican football, including the Mexican national team, the Mexico vs. USA game, and the Mexican Primera, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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Gold Cup Final 2011 Score, USA Vs. Mexico: Chicharito Hits Post

The United States might have taken an early lead against Mexico in the Gold Cup final, but they're still getting pretty thoroughly outplayed by their opponents in Pasadena, with El Tri threatening on every attack and the United States looking shoddy on defence. It is, of course, Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez who looks more likely to put the ball in the back of Tim Howard's net, and the Manchester United striker came within inches of doing just that when he laid in a lovely click from a long ball following a Mexico throw on their right.

Howard was well beaten and the ball bounced agonisingly off the base of his post and bobbled away. Hernandez chased afterwards, hoping to generate another chance, but although he did manage to pick it up his enthusiasm was rather tempered by the offside flag being raise. A goal wouldn't have counted anyway. It's yet another dangerous attack from Mexico, though, who've already had several legitimate goalscoring chances spurned. Stil 1-0 USA Pasadena.

For more on how the two teams got to this point, check out our USA vs. Panama stream and our Mexico vs. Honduras stream. For more updates leading up to USA vs. Mexico, bookmark this StoryStream. For all of our previous Gold Cup coverage, check out the Gold Cup 2011 section. For more on Mexican football, including the Mexican national team, the Mexico vs. USA game, and the Mexican Primera, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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Gold Cup Final 2011, USA Vs. Mexico: Jonathan Bornstein Substituted In For Injured Steve Cherundolo

Steve Cherundolo helped set up the first goal from his right back position, earning the corner kick that lead to Michael Bradley's goal, but the United States right back has already had to come out of the match. He looked to have picked up a knock when he earned that corner and as a result, called to Bob Bradley for a substitution. Early indications are that he has a left ankle injury. Without a like for like replacement on the bench, Bradley opted to make some moves and bring in Jonathan Bornstein.

Bornstein has been error prone in the past and has drawn criticism from USMNT fans, but he actually had a relatively error-free World Cup, making himself back into a reasonable option for the team. He's a left-footed left back, so he hasn't come in as a direct replacement for Cherundolo. Eric Lichaj, who started the game at left back, is right-footed and has played more right back than left back in his career, so the switch to Cherundolo's position was natural for him.

For more on how the two teams got to this point, check out our USA vs. Panama stream and our Mexico vs. Honduras stream. For more updates leading up to USA vs. Mexico, bookmark this StoryStream. For all of our previous Gold Cup coverage, check out the Gold Cup 2011 section. For more on Mexican football, including the Mexican national team, the Mexico vs. USA game, and the Mexican Primera, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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Gold Cup Final 2011 Score, USA Vs. Mexico: Michael Bradley Goal, Freddy Adu Assist Gives USMNT Lead

Despite a fast start from Mexico, the United States leads the 2011 Gold Cup Final after nine minutes, thanks to a goal from the coach's son, Michael Bradley. Bob's bold move to play Freddy Adu has already paid off big time, as Adu helped set up the goal in multiple ways. Even Bradley couldn't have counted on getting a lead this early, while 'Chepo' Jose Manuel de la Torre has been left stunned, as El Tri will have to come from behind.

The goal came on a corner kick, created by Adu and Steve Cherundolo. Despite Mexico's swarming defense, Adu and Cherundolo combined well and kept the ball in a dangerous area for a good 30 seconds before Cherundolo eventually put the ball off Carlos Salcido to earn a corner kick. Adu stepped up to take the corner and hit an in-swinging ball to the near post, which Bradley ran onto. He hit a flicked header on target which Alfredo Talavera got a hand to, but couldn't keep out. The Mexican keeper probably should have been better, but the USMNT won't mind as they've taken a massive 1-0 lead.

For more on how the two teams got to this point, check out our USA vs. Panama stream and our Mexico vs. Honduras stream. For more updates leading up to USA vs. Mexico, bookmark this StoryStream. For all of our previous Gold Cup coverage, check out the Gold Cup 2011 section. For more on Mexican football, including the Mexican national team, the Mexico vs. USA game, and the Mexican Primera, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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Gold Cup Final 2011, USA Vs. Mexico: Landon Donovan Up Top, Clint Dempsey Wide Left

When the lineup was released for the United States, most assumed that Clint Dempsey would be playing as the lone striker up top while Landon Donovan played on one wing opposite Alejandro Bedoya. Instead, Donovan is the No. 9, while Dempsey is playing wide left. Bob Bradley seems to be prioritizing speed over size and technical hold-up play at the striker position, which is an interesting and slightly odd strategy against Mexico.

Early on, Mexico are doing an excellent job of keeping the ball. With Freddy Adu and no pure striker in the lineup, it implies that the United States want to attempt to keep possession. However, they've struggled to do that in the opening five minutes of the game, as Mexico are controlling the ball and the tempo. Questionable left-sided players Andres Guardado and Carlos Salcido are showing no signs of injury and fatigue, and they're giving the USMNT some trouble early on.

For more on how the two teams got to this point, check out our USA vs. Panama stream and our Mexico vs. Honduras stream. For more updates leading up to USA vs. Mexico, bookmark this StoryStream. For all of our previous Gold Cup coverage, check out the Gold Cup 2011 section. For more on Mexican football, including the Mexican national team, the Mexico vs. USA game, and the Mexican Primera, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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Gold Cup Final 2011, USA Vs. Mexico: El Tri Lineup Analysis

Well, it was all a bunch of smoke and mirrors from 'Chepo' Jose Manuel de la Torre after all. Last night, when asked about the playing status of Andres Guardado and Carlos Salcido, his left sided players who were injured against Honduras, he said that they were game time decisions. No new news came out on either of them during the day and, lo and behold, they're both in the starting lineup. Of course, Chepo probably knew this all along and just didn't want to give Bob Bradley any ideas. Check here for the Mexico lineup to face the USA in the Gold Cup final.

Andres Guardado is very much in the running for player of the tournament and his play has been spectacular for Mexico, so it's a huge relief for El Tri fans that he's in the lineup. However, if he's not at 100 percent, it's arguable that they would have been better off starting Angel Reyna. His form for Club America in the 2011 Clausura was stunning, and him at 100 percent is better than Guardado at 75 percent.

The matchup between Guardado and Steve Cherundolo could be huge, as the U.S. is very dangerous when Cherundolo gets up the flank and puts in crosses. Guardado will need to keep him pinned back to help keep the United States playing narrow.

Pablo Barrera starts wide right as expected, and his matchup against USMNT left back Eric Lichaj will be key. The Aston Villa man is a great young athlete who will probably start for the United States and in the English Premier League for years into the future, but at present time, Barrera has the advantage. The Mexico right winger has outplayed every left back he has faced this year in a Mexico shirt, and Lichaj should be no exception. Landon Donovan will need to help on Barrera and break up plays down that flank. With the U.S. questionable defensively down the left and Guardado's injury, Mexico could be a very right-leaning team.

For more on how the two teams got to this point, check out our USA vs. Panama stream and our Mexico vs. Honduras stream. For more updates leading up to USA vs. Mexico, bookmark this StoryStream. For all of our previous Gold Cup coverage, check out the Gold Cup 2011 section. For more on Mexican football, including the Mexican national team, the Mexico vs. USA game, and the Mexican Primera, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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USA Vs. Mexico, 2011 Gold Cup Final: El Tri Lineup

Mexico looked to be suffering from a spate of injuries at just the wrong time. With the Gold Cup final against the United States coming up, José Manuel de la Torre looked like he'd be without the services of left back Carlos Salcido and left winger Andres Guardado, which would have badly exposed El Tri to the threat of Landon Donovan at right wing for the USA. Fortunately (for Mexico) both turn out to be fit enough to start. Whether they'll be able to finish is another story entirely.

El Tri are lining up in a 4-2-3-1 with Israel Castro and Garardo Torrado holding in front of Rafael Marquez and Hector Moreno. Manchester United star Javier Hernandez is the lone man up front, but he'll be ably supported by the likes of Pablo Barrea, Giovani dos Santos and Guardado. Realistically, this team will score goals against the USA. How many might depend on just how much work Salcido and Guardado are capable of doing on the left.

Mexico (4-2-3-1): Alfredo Talavera; Carlos Salcido, Rafael Marquez, Hector Moreno, Efrain Juarez; Israel Castro, Gerardo Torrado; Andres Guardado, Giovani dos Santos, Pablo Barrera; Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez.

For more on how the two teams got to this point, check out our USA vs. Panama stream and our Mexico vs. Honduras stream. For more updates leading up to USA vs. Mexico, bookmark this StoryStream. For all of our previous Gold Cup coverage, check out the Gold Cup 2011 section. For more on Mexican football, including the Mexican national team, the Mexico vs. USA game, and the Mexican Primera, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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Gold Cup Final 2011, USA Vs. Mexico: USMNT Lineup Analysis

Well, all we can say is "wow." Bob Bradley has been accused of being a static, boring manager in his time with the United States. His teams play a rigid style of football, he plays favorites, and his tactics are not very imaginative. That's his reputation, and he's thrown that reputation right out the window with the lineup that he's selected today. If you haven't seen it yet, here's the USA lineup for the Gold Cup final against Mexico.

Bradley has kept with the 4-2-3-1 formation he's been deploying since the loss to Panama in the second game of the group stages, but the personnel selection is pretty unbelievable. Freddy Adu will start the match, presumably as an advanced playmaker, playing just behind Clint Dempsey, who will play as a lone striker. Landon Donovan and Alejandro Bedoya will start on the wings, though it's not entirely clear who will start on which side. Donovan on the left would be a reasonable educated guess.

Dempsey has spent most of his time out wide with the United States, with some occasional late game moves inside to either an attacking midfield or second striker role. He's playing a completely new role tonight as the No. 9, but expect him to drop deep and swap positions with Adu and Donovan a fair bit. 

I can't get over this. Bob Bradley is playing his most technical side with Freddy Adu in the starting lineup and Clint Dempsey as a (likely) false nine. Incredible. Instead of putting in the biggest, strongest, fastest guys he has and trying to beat Mexico in that fashion, he's opted to fight fire with fire. If it works, he looks like a genius.

For more on how the two teams got to this point, check out our USA vs. Panama stream and our Mexico vs. Honduras stream. For more updates leading up to USA vs. Mexico, bookmark this StoryStream. For all of our previous Gold Cup coverage, check out the Gold Cup 2011 section. For more on Mexican football, including the Mexican national team, the Mexico vs. USA game, and the Mexican Primera, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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USA Vs. Mexico, 2011 Gold Cup Final: USMNT Lineup

Update: Bob Bradley has done a sneaky switch, putting Donovan up top and playing Clint Dempsey wide left.

Freddy Adu has earned himself a place in the starting lineup of the 2011 Gold Cup final where Bob Bradley's United States take on Chicharito-led Mexico. Landon Donovan, who'd been a substitute for the previous two knockout matches, is also restored to the starting eleven. Bradley has opted to field a 4-2-3-1 with Clint Dempsey as the lone striker. There are few surprises in the defence, with captain Carlos Bocanegra and Clarence Goodson as the centre half pairing, and Steve Cherundelo and Eric Lichaj the fullbacks.

Midfield is the most interesting, especially the attacking band of Donovan, Adu, and Alejandro Bedoya. If Adu's personal rennaisance continues, the USA could actually pose a major threat right down the centre of the pitch. If not, we may see the entire shape of the team forced to change later.

United States (4-2-3-1): Tim Howard; Eric Lichaj, Carlos Bocanegra, Clarence Goodson, Steve Cherundolo; Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley; Landon Donovan, Freddy Adu, Alejandro Bedoya; Clint Dempsey.

Substitutes: Jonathan Spector, Maurice Edu, Juan Agudelo, Jonathan Bornstein, Tim Ream, Sacha Kljestan, Marcus Hahnemann.

For more on how the two teams got to this point, check out our USA vs. Panama stream and our Mexico vs. Honduras stream. For more updates leading up to USA vs. Mexico, bookmark this StoryStream. For all of our previous Gold Cup coverage, check out the Gold Cup 2011 section. For more on Mexican football, including the Mexican national team, the Mexico vs. USA game, and the Mexican Primera, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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Gold Cup Final 2011 Live: How To Watch USA Vs. Mexico Online

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking "I really want to watch the 2011 Gold Cup (Copa Oro) Final live (en vivo), but I forgot to pay my cable bill and I threw my TV out the window in frustration when my cable got turned off." Well, you're in luck! You can watch USA Vs. Mexico streaming online, and it's actually legal! Holy cats, legal streaming soccer, it really is your lucky day.

If you live in North America and you want to watch the game with English commentary, you can catch it on CONCACAF TV on CONCACAF.com. If you prefer to watch your footy with Spanish commentary, there will be a Spanish language stream on Univision, courtesy of your friends at the ginormous media conglomerate Televisa. Just head over to UnivisionDeportes.com. We're happy to help you out and show you where to watch this game online, but next time, make it easy on us and yourselves. Pay your cable bill, and stop throwing TVs out the window.

For more on how the two teams got to this point, check out our USA vs. Panama stream and our Mexico vs. Honduras stream. For more updates leading up to USA vs. Mexico, bookmark this StoryStream. For all of our previous Gold Cup coverage, check out the Gold Cup 2011 section. For more on Mexican football, including the Mexican national team, the Mexico vs. USA game, and the Mexican Primera, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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Gold Cup Final 2011, USA Vs. Mexico: TV Schedule, Kickoff Time, And More

USA Vs. Mexico in the Gold Cup Final is going to be a very interesting game, but it's going to be a much more interesting game if you actually get to watch it on television. The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. is going to be packed to the brim, and early reports indicate that it's going to be filled with about 70 percent Mexico fans. In Southern California, this is hardly surprising, but every one of the fine folks of Sam's Army and American Outlaws will all be doing enough cheering for two people, so it should come close to evening out. Here's all of the game time information, including where you can watch it live, on television.

USA Vs. Mexico

Time: 9:00 pm ET, 6:00 pm local

Venue: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.

Television: Fox Soccer Channel (English - United States and across the Caribbean), Univision (United States - Spanish), Rogers Sportsnet (Canada), Setanta Sports (Australia).

For more on how the two teams got to this point, check out our USA vs. Panama stream and our Mexico vs. Honduras stream. For more updates leading up to USA vs. Mexico, bookmark this StoryStream. For all of our previous Gold Cup coverage, check out the Gold Cup 2011 section. For more on Mexican football, including the Mexican national team, the Mexico vs. USA game, and the Mexican Primera, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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USA Vs. Mexico, 2011 Gold Cup Final: Freddy Adu Can Make A Major Impact - Sounder At Heart

When Freddy Adu entered the United States' Gold Cup semifinal match against Panama, he absolutely changed the game. Most USMNT fans were shocked to see Adu named to the roster and downright horrified to see him enter the match against Panama, but he proved all of his doubters wrong. Not only was he instrumental in setting up the winning goal, he got better and better as the game goes on. Out of nowhere, Freddy Adu is now being thought of as a potential game changing sub in the final against Mexico.

However, Dave Clark at SB Nation's Seattle Sounders blog Sounder At Heart has a different idea. According to Dave, Adu shouldn't just be an impact substitute for the USMNT on Saturday evening. Nope, Dave says Adu should start the game.

The US has plenty of conventional players. Players who are decent, they don't hurt you. But they aren't special. Adu is still special, and still has those raw skills that got him the pomp. He's rested, and ready to burst back onto the scene. He shut down his twitter a month ago to focus on this tournament, and with the impending new loan to a new club some where he has every incentive to use this stage for personal and national glory.

Starting the youngster would provide not just spark, but surprise to the Starting XI. His would be another body, a relatively unscouted body, that can do things with his feet that stun one defender and forces others to close down. After the performance against Panama reward the young man and roll the dice.

Adu might not have big game experience, but then again, do Sacha Kljestan and Alejandro Bedoya? As long as he's not displacing Landon Donovan or Clint Dempsey, it's not that far out in left field. Adu is a unique player on the U.S. roster, and a start for him would simply be rewarding a great performance. It's highly unlikely that Adu starts, but if he does, Bob Bradley should be praised for his guts, not criticized. 

For more on how the two teams got to this point, check out our USA vs. Panama stream and our Mexico vs. Honduras stream. For more updates leading up to USA vs. Mexico, bookmark this StoryStream. For all of our previous Gold Cup coverage, check out the Gold Cup 2011 section. For more on Mexican football, including the Mexican national team, the Mexico vs. USA game, and the Mexican Primera, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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USA Vs. Mexico, 2011 Gold Cup Final: Does A Truly Great Rivalry Require Even Sides?

The rivalry between the United States and Mexico is the best in CONCACAF, but that's not necessarily saying a lot. While North America is almost certainly in the process of catching up to South America and Europe in football, it's not one of the power continents in the international game. The US and Mexico are the only two teams among the 30 best in the world, and as a result, are the best rivalry by default.

However, peruse through social media today and you'll find some American soccer fans comparing it to the best rivalries in American sports. UNC-Duke, Michigan-Ohio State, Packers-Bears, Celtics-Lakers, Yankees-Red Sox, you name it. There are some interesting problems with this comparison, though, as this game doesn't equate for a few reasons.

1. Those rivalries all have lengthy history

Every single one of those rivalries listed above has been a rivalry for a very long time. Some might argue that Duke-UNC wasn't a proper rivalry until Coach K came around and Lakers-Celtics wasn't a proper rivalry until the Bird-Magic duels, but in both cases, that happened in the 1980s. The United States men's national soccer team was not yet relevant until the early 1990s.

That might be nit-picky, though. This could be a great recent rivalry, like the Patriots-Colts rivalry. Those two teams are both very accomplished and their fanbases seem to genuinely dislike each other. However, it still has something very important that the USA-Mexico rivalry does not have.

2. Those rivalries all have fairly even fanbases

As a USMNT fan, this kind of hurts to say, but here goes: Mexico has a better fanbase than the United States does. They sell out large NFL stadiums for crappy friendly matches in places that do not have a large Mexican-American population. While there is a small contingent of USMNT fans that are among the greatest sports fans anywhere on the planet, most of the fanbase is fairly apathetic and will not go to expensive games, games against bad teams, or games they have to travel a long way for. Ford Field was about 1/3 full for USA-Canada, and that was a competitive fixture featuring the United States' best squad. I know it was Detroit, but we all know the crowd would have been doubled, if not more, if Mexico had a group stage game there. It's true, and you know it.

There are probably considerably less USMNT fans than there are El Tri fans. If that is not true, then there are certainly more ultra-passionate El Tri fans that would follow their team to the ends of the earth than there are USMNT fans built in the same mold.

This is a great rivalry, but until the fanbases even out and the teams have another couple decades of history behind them, does it really compare to an American football game between Michigan and Ohio State? No, not on your life.

For more on how the two teams got to this point, check out our USA vs. Panama stream and our Mexico vs. Honduras stream. For more updates leading up to USA vs. Mexico, bookmark this StoryStream. For all of our previous Gold Cup coverage, check out the Gold Cup 2011 section. For more on Mexican football, including the Mexican national team, the Mexico vs. USA game, and the Mexican Primera, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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USA Vs. Mexico, 2011 Gold Cup Final: The Old Club Vs. Country Debate - Brotherly Game

MLS has received a lot of criticism in recent days over its decision not to reschedule any matches for Gold Cup. Two matches were scheduled on Wednesday that conflicted directly with the semifinals and four games are scheduled on Saturday that will conflict with the finals.

No group of fans ended up getting it worse than those of the Philadelphia Union, whose Wednesday and Saturday matches both conflicted with the Gold Cup schedule. The Brotherly Game, not surprisingly, is a bit perturbed by being forced to quite literally choose between club and country:

No soccer fan should find him or herself forced to choose between watching club or country on any given night, especially when the USMNT is playing Mexico. The situation is made even worse when MLS had the ability months before hand to prevent the conflict from happening. Frustrating is an understatement.

It's true that MLS's schedule came out before the Gold Cup's. But MLS reschedules games all the time. How hard would it have been to move some games to earlier in the day?

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USA Vs. Mexico, 2011 Gold Cup Final: Just Latest Chapter In Rivalry - RSL Soapbox

Many, many words have already been written about the United States-Mexico rivalry that will be renewed on Saturday in the Gold Cup final. RSL Soapbox, though, does us the favor of running down some of the reasons this is the best rivalry in North America:

Now the two sides battle it out as each side is trying to establish themselves as the top team in the region, but a look at the numbers since 2000 shows the US holds a huge edge in the 16 matches played 10-4-2. If you actually look a the three matches the sides have played at neutral sites since 1990, the USA holds a 2-1-0 record. Fans of Mexico are quick to point out that Mexico won the last Gold Cup which was played in the USA and they are correct, but US fans will quickly point out that the USA had brought a team of reserves and backup to the tournament that year as they focused their top players on the 2010 World Cup.

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USA Vs. Mexico, 2011 Gold Cup Final: Exploiting Set Pieces Key For USMNT Against El Tri

Even in their top performances against Mexico, the United States generally doesn't do a great job of keeping possession. For a variety of reasons, even when Mexico is not at their best, they can usually keep the ball a little better than their opponents. The United States have a lot of big, strong, fast players who play well on the break, while Mexico have similarly fast, but smaller and more technically adept players. This may sound like stereotyping, but it is absolutely the case with these two sides in this particular match. So, it's a classic strength versus technical class battle from open play, but open play isn't the whole story.

The United States, as always, has a variety of players who can score on set pieces. With 'Maza' Fransisco Rodriguez and Aldo de Nigris in the game, Mexico can defend them well, but Maza was sent home for doping and de Nigris is likely to start the game on the bench. While the United States' biggest, strongest striker Jozy Altidore will be unavailable for the game, the two central defenders are very adept at scoring on set pieces, as are Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley.

If Mexico keeps the ball well and their defensive positioning is on point, it might be difficult for the United States to score from open play. However, they will have an advantage on set pieces, and they will look to exploit it. It wouldn't be the least bit surprising to see big Clarence Goodson net a goal today on a corner kick.

For more on how the two teams got to this point, check out our USA vs. Panama stream and our Mexico vs. Honduras stream. For more updates leading up to USA vs. Mexico, bookmark this StoryStream. For all of our previous Gold Cup coverage, check out the Gold Cup 2011 section. For more on Mexican football, including the Mexican national team, the Mexico vs. USA game, and the Mexican Primera, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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USA Vs. Mexico, 2011 Gold Cup Final: El Tri Will Look To Exploit Defensive Weakness On Wings - FMF State Of Mind

We're building up quickly to the Gold Cup final now, and the United States have plenty to worry about with Mexico's glittering array of attacking talent. Although Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez is the big name, the States have more to worry to worry about than the baby-faced centre forward. El Tri's wingers are a particular threat, and Bob Bradley's side aren't exactly known for their stalwart defending on the flanks.

Kevin McCauley, at SB Nation's Mexican futbol blog FMF State of Mind, writes that without a defensive minded winger in the mould of Manchester United's Park Ji-Sung Mexico's wingers may well run riot, in particular Pablo Barrera, who faces off against young Aston Villa fullback Eric Lichaj. If Bob Bradley can't make an adjustment to counter that, the team could be in some trouble.

[U]nless he's going to make some adjustment to counter El Tri, they should be able to have a field day down the right. Lichaj hasn't been poor in any of his games by any stretch of the imagination, but he hasn't been great either. He's an average defender at this point in his career, and Barrera has abused just about everyone he's played against in a Mexico shirt this year. He's going to be able to get around Lichaj, more than once.

Neutralising the threat of Mexico's width would go a long way towards giving the US a chance to pull out a surprise win in Pasadena, especially with the physical edge the centre halves will have over Chicharito in the middle. Can the USMNT manage? We'll have to wait and see.

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USA Vs. Mexico, 2011 Gold Cup (Copa Oro) Final: Andres Guardado, Carlos Salcido Both Game Time Decisions

After picking up knocks and being substituted out of the match against Honduras, Mexico's left sided tandem of Andres Guardado and Carlos Salcido were called questionable for the Gold Cup final. Now, on the morning of the game against the United States, their status isn't any different. We still don't know if the pair will be playing against the USA, probably because 'Chepo' Jose Manuel de la Torre doesn't know either. According to him, both players are game time decisions.

If Salcido isn't able to go, his replacement is obvious and shouldn't change Mexico much at all. UANL Tigres left back Jose Torres Nilo is a class player and the drop-off will be minimal. He doesn't have the size or big game experience of Salcido, but he's got the pace and he's actually a better crosser of the ball with his left foot.

Replacing Guardado is a completely different situation entirely, as Mexico don't have a like for like replacement lined up. The closest thing to a like for like change is Angel Reyna, but if Chepo wants to get his best players on the pitch rather than sacrificing quality for shape, he could opt to move Giovani dos Santos to the left, bringing in Aldo de Nigris and switching to a 4-4-2. Elias Hernandez is another potential starter, but he generally prefers to play on the right.

For more on how the two teams got to this point, check out our USA vs. Panama stream and our Mexico vs. Honduras stream. For more updates leading up to USA vs. Mexico, bookmark this StoryStream. For all of our previous Gold Cup coverage, check out the Gold Cup 2011 section. For more on Mexican football, including the Mexican national team, the Mexico vs. USA game, and the Mexican Primera, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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USA Vs. Mexico, 2011 Gold Cup Final: Yanks' Best 11 Includes Landon Donovan - Hot Time In Old Town

Landon Donovan has been a bit of a lightning rod during this Gold Cup. The United States' most prolific scorer did not start out strong, missed a practice to attend his sister's wedding and spent two matches coming off the bench. Some feel like his time as the leader of the USMNT may have passed.

But Hot Time In Old Town still believes in the man who led the USA to the knockout stage of the World Cup and to two previous Gold Cup titles:

He has played and scored in huge World Cup games. He knows what the pressure will be like, how to handle it, and how to be the leader the US team needs. Now isn't that something you definitely want on the field tomorrow? He's the veteran presence that everyone turns to when the biggest stakes are on the line, because the players know that he will find a way to take the physical and mental approach and tie them together better than anybody else can. If Bob Bradley starts Donovan on the bench tomorrow vs. Mexico, I think that should be grounds for getting fired. Our best lineup against Mexico includes Landon in the starting eleven.

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USA Vs. Mexico, 2011 Gold Cup Final: Chivas USA Fans Have Split Loyalties - The Goat Parade

Of all the MLS fans, none would seem to be more ripe for split loyalties than those of Chivas USA. By definition, their team is tied to one in Mexico, but are directly supporting one in the United States. The Goat Parade, SB Nation's Chivas USA blog, tries to shed some light on this duality:

Why Chivas USA fans are supporting both countries: Ok, so a lot of fans bristle at the prospect of supporting more than one country, but sometimes, that is life. For some, having both Mexican and American identities means it is too hard to choose just one country. For others, living in the melting pot of Los Angeles means that competing allegiances are irresistible. No Chivas players are on the American or Mexican Gold Cup squads, either, so fans do not have an obligation to support one country over another on behalf of their club. And of course, there are some frontrunners in this crowd. "Wow, is this really the Sven Goran Eriksson era for Mexico? The USA looks pretty good right now." "Ooh, is the U.S. forward line allergic to scoring? Hey, look, Chicharito is scoring lots of goals." Frontrunners are usually gross but we all know a friend or two who does this, don't we?

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USA Vs. Mexico, 2011 Gold Cup Final: Much Has Changed Since 2009 - LAG Confidential

That the United States and Mexico will be meeting in the Gold Cup finals hardly qualifies as news at this point. This is the third straight tournament in which they've met in the finals and the fifth time they've met during the modern era.

The last time they met, Mexico delivered a 5-0 beatdown. But as LAG Confidential points out, that was with a team that featured such luminaries as Troy Perkins, Logan Pause and Brian Ching. When the USA brings their "A" team, it's a different story, as Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan have won the two previous tournaments they played.

LAG Confidential does acknowledge there are some changes on the Mexican side that could have a significant influence as well:

Of course the big addition for Mexico is Chicharito. Since joining the Mexican National Team in 2009, Javier Hernandez has made 28 appearances and scored 21 goals. That's just one fewer than Clint Dempsey has in his seven year national team career. He's got an amazing nose for goal, and even though the secret's out on him, he can still find a way to be left completely unmarked. On his goal against Honduras, there wasn't a defender withing ten feet of him.

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USA Vs. Mexico, 2011 Gold Cup Final: Freddy Adu Reminds Us He's Still Relevant - Burgundy Wave

As we all know, Freddy Adu was once soon-to-be-king of U.S. soccer. ESPN proclaimed it, so it had to be true. At the tender age of 14, he was the top pick in the MLS draft. Of course, it didn't go as planned and he's bounced around from MLS to several stops in Europe before his latest stint with a second division Turkish team. Unsurprisingly, he had fallen well off the United States National Team radar. 

That all changed when Bob Bradley made him a surprise selection to the Gold Cup team and then made an even bigger shocker by putting him in late in a game the U.S. needed to win. Adu made the move look genius, though, as he helped set up the winning score. Among those happiest was the Burgundy Wave, who reminds us that Adu still has a lot of soccer ahead of him:

One thing to remember is that Adu is somehow only 22 years old right now at this point of his supposedly flop of a career. It seems like forever since the first time that his face was plastered on everything MLS had to offer us because... well, in sports years it really has been forever. Back in 2004 DC United was still winning MLS Cups, the Houston Astros were a World Series caliber team, Charlton Athletic and Crystal Palace were both EPL clubs... need I continue? For an average athlete getting hype like Adu got, it probably would have started right out of high school and going into college. In that case, said athlete would probably be in his late 20's right now and at the later stages of his career beyond hope or repair, but as always Freddy is a special case.

For more on how the two teams got to this point, check out our USA vs. Panama stream and our Mexico vs. Honduras stream. For more updates leading up to USA vs. Mexico, bookmark this StoryStream. For all of our previous Gold Cup coverage, check out the Gold Cup 2011 section. For more on Mexican football, including the Mexican national team, the Mexico vs. USA game, and the Mexican Primera, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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USA Vs. Mexico, 2011 Gold Cup Final: Clint Dempsey Didn't Really Mean That, Right?

Clint Dempsey grew up in a small town in Texas playing soccer, often against grown-ass men, many of whom were Hispanic. Point being, he knows the kind of people who showed up to the Gold Cup semifinal, mainly to see Mexico-Honduras as the second half of the double-header, but who also applauded the United States after their win over Panama.

Dempsey, no doubt, has many memories of these same people booing the United States. He probably remember some of these people giving him a particularly hard time while he was playing against them as a youngster. So, I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt that he did not really mean what he said in this quote that appeared in the Houston Chronicle after the match: 

"And two, I’d like to think that a lot of people that were in the stands tonight that were maybe wearing a green jersey are making a living here and they have maybe a little more appreciation for this country."

In any case, I really hope that he does not really believe that the soccer team you support says anything about your appreciation for a country. With the United States playing Mexico in Saturday's Gold Cup final, though, I have a feeling we are going to hear plenty of other people make a similar accusation, and I'd like to go on record now as saying, Don't.

Don't fall into this trap. Don't let jingoism be mistaken for patriotism. Don't allow yourself to blur the line between sport and life to this degree. Don't turn this into an opportunity to break out tired, hurtful and lazy stereotypes.

I know, the desire to do so is going to be strong. With the final being held at the Rose Bowl, chances are at least 50 percent of the crowd will be rooting for El Tri. Suffice to say, most of those people probably live and work in the United States. Heck, a lot of those people probably have been here for many generations. But just because they root for the country of their ancestry instead of their country of citizenship does not mean they don't appreciate the United States.

In our lives, we all know people that root for a soccer team other than the United States. Maybe they root for England. Maybe they root for Spain. Maybe they root for Italy. Maybe their root for Slovakia. Yet somehow, we never accuse these people of lacking appreciation for this country.

Sure, we give them a hard time about not supporting the U.S. soccer team, but it rarely seems to go beyond fandom. Just because someone roots for Mexico does not make them a traitor. It does not make them an ingrate. It does not make them un-American. Let's at least try to remember that.

For more on how the two teams got to this point, check out our USA vs. Panama stream and our Mexico vs. Honduras stream. For more updates leading up to USA vs. Mexico, bookmark this StoryStream. For all of our previous Gold Cup coverage, check out the Gold Cup 2011 section. For more on Mexican football, including the Mexican national team, the Mexico vs. USA game, and the Mexican Primera, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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Truth In Numbers, Starting Carlos Bocanegra At Center Back Gives US Best Chance

Sometimes numbers in soccer tell the truth. For the US Men's National Team, there are plenty of them out there but for me one of the biggest is the placing of veteran leader Carlos Bocanegra.

Most know the man can play anywhere on the back line. Either on the left, the right, or in the middle. Over the last few years, however, when Bob Bradley starts him in certain spots, the US has a higher percentage of wins and a lower amount of goals against than in other spots. 

Since 2007, the Upland, California native has started 49 games for the US. In those games where he started at left back the US is 5-3-4 (.583) and has conceded 16 goals (1.33 goals per game). In his other 37 games as a starting center back, the US is 24-10-3 (.689) and has conceded 36 goals (0.97 goals per game).

Let's see 16 goals over a stretch of 12 games and 36 goals over 37 games tells me a good deal about where I'd rather see Bocanegra start against Mexico. Of course a lot of those can be situational and not all come down to how Bocanegra plays. As we've seen in this Gold Cup, when he's in the middle with Clarence Goodson, the US has been more focused in the back allowing fewer goals and fewer chances for the opposition. Against a team like Mexico, you need that kind of stability in the back to win a competition like the Gold Cup.

I look back to the first Panama game for a lot of this reasoning to keep Bocanegra in the middle as opposed to the left back position. While the Tim Ream-Goodson duo is in a way the future of the defense of the US, the time for it just isn't now. You need a strong veteran leader like Bocanegra in games like this one with Mexico. You don't want a green defender like Ream that hasn't been put in enough big games in his career both internationally and professionally. Now this is no knock to Ream as he is an extremely talented defender for the US and for Major League Soccer, its mostly a desire to see the best group of players out on the field to give the US the best chance of winning the Gold Cup.

It's a numbers game sometimes in soccer and against someone like Mexico, you want your best numbers out there in the right positions. Having Bocanegra in the middle is the right call for Bradley to make tomorrow night. It won't guarantee a win but it will give the US the best shot at claiming another Gold Cup trophy.

For more on how the two teams got to this point, check out our USA vs. Panama stream and our Mexico vs. Honduras stream. For more updates leading up to USA vs. Mexico, bookmark this StoryStream. For all of our previous Gold Cup coverage, check out the Gold Cup 2011 section. For more on Mexican football, including the Mexican national team, the Mexico vs. USA game, and the Mexican Primera, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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USA Vs. Mexico, 2011 Gold Cup Final: El Tri Needs To Learn From Honduras Match - FMF State Of Mind

With Honduras missing almost all of their big stars, Mexico were favorites to win their Gold Cup semifinal matchup without much issue. When the likes of Maynor Figueroa, David Suazo, Emilio Izaguirre and Wilson Palacios are healthy, Honduras can challenge anyone in the world. With all four of those players out, they were left with questionable talent. Because of the large talent gap between Mexico's best and Honduras's reserves, Los Catrachos decided that the best strategy was to make the game a dirty one. 

Mexico eventually pulled out the victory in extra time, but they were made to work extremely hard to get that result. There's no doubt that 'Chepo' Jose Manuel de la Torre would like to avoid a repeat and win the final in regular time. How does El Tri avoid the mistakes that plagued them against Honduras when they take on the United States? Eben Lehman of SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind has some ideas, mostly centered around the positioning of Giovani dos Santos.

Adding to the trouble was the position of Giovani Dos Santos far up the field. Dos Santos spent much of the game alongside (and sometimes even in front) of Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez. This gave Mexico a second striker, but left them with a numerical disadvantage in the midfield. The strength of Dos Santos is as a creator, a playmaker. His best position is slightly behind Chicharito, at the center of the band of three attacking midfielders -- with Guardado to his left and Barrera to his right. Having Dos Santos up front alongside Chicharito neutralizes much of his skill set.    

The separation of dos Santos from the central midfielders, Israel Castro and Gerardo Torrado, was a big problem for Mexico in the semifinal, and they will need to correct that against the United States. The USMNT did a great job in their first Gold Cup game of isolating Dwayne De Rosario and keeping him from linking up with Canada's central midfielders, so we could be in for a fantastic midfield battle on Saturday.

For more on how the two teams got to this point, check out our USA vs. Panama stream and our Mexico vs. Honduras stream. For more updates leading up to USA vs. Mexico, bookmark this StoryStream. For all of our previous Gold Cup coverage, check out the Gold Cup 2011 section. For more on Mexican football, including the Mexican national team, the Mexico vs. USA game, and the Mexican Primera, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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USA Vs. Mexico, 2011 Gold Cup Final: Chivas USA Fans On Both Sides Of The Divide - The Goat Parade

The Chivas USA fanbase is one of the most interesting in MLS, as the team's name and location inherently lends itself to divide in national team support among the team's supporters. The team takes its name from the most popular team in Mexico and is obviously marketed towards Mexican-American soccer fans, but there are plenty of American supporters of all nationalities who support the team.

There are lots of Chivas USA supporters who are fans of either the United States or Mexico, but believe it or not, there are also lots of people that support both teams. Does it sound like sports blasphemy? Well, imagine picking between the country of your heritage and the country in which your family lives and works, and as a result, loves as much as your home country. Alicia from SB Nation's Chivas USA blog The Goat Parade explains:

Ok, so a lot of fans bristle at the prospect of supporting more than one country, but sometimes, that is life. For some, having both Mexican and American identities means it is too hard to choose just one country. For others, living in the melting pot of Los Angeles means that competing allegiances are irresistible. No Chivas players are on the American or Mexican Gold Cup squads, either, so fans do not have an obligation to support one country over another on behalf of their club.

Lots of team fanbases have an interesting dynamic when it comes to a divide in national team support among the fans, but Chivas USA probably takes the cake in this regard. There are probably a great deal of fans who own both a Mexico and a United States jersey.

For more on how the two teams got to this point, check out our USA vs. Panama stream and our Mexico vs. Honduras stream. For more updates leading up to USA vs. Mexico, bookmark this StoryStream. For all of our previous Gold Cup coverage, check out the Gold Cup 2011 section. For more on Mexican football, including the Mexican national team, the Mexico vs. USA game, and the Mexican Primera, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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USA Isn't Better Than Mexico, But They Can Be On One Day

Mexico is the best team in CONCACAF, but the United States can be better on Saturday and claim the Gold Cup title, leaving the "best team" moniker rather hollow.

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Reliving 30 Minutes Of Freddy Adu, USA Gold Cup Glory

A retro live blog of Freddy Adu's performance in the Gold Cup semifinals

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USA Vs. Mexico, 2011 Gold Cup Final: USMNT And El Tri Meet Yet Again

The rivalry between Mexico and the United States is, without a doubt, the best in CONCACAF. If not for the passion of the fans, it's the best simply because of the quality of the teams. They have been the two finalists in each of the last two Gold Cups and they finished as the top two teams in the 2010 World Cup qualifying hexagonal. In their last four competitive matches, each team has two wins and two losses. But despite the recent history between El Tri and the USA, the Gold Cup Final shouldn't be compared to any recent matches between the two teams.

Both teams are completely incomparable to the 2009 Gold Cup final, where neither the USMNT or Mexico brought their best XI, and too much time has passed since 2007 to assume that match has any kind of bearing. Even the World Cup qualifying matches aren't applicable, just for a couple of simple facts. For one, 'Chepo' Jose Manuel de la Torre is nothing like Sven-Goran Eriksson or Javier Aguirre. However, more importantly than that, Mexico didn't have 'Chicharito' Javier Hernandez.

In a game as dependent on team concept and team chemistry as soccer is, it's tough to believe that the addition of one player can cause a complete turn-around for a team. However, Chicharito has done just that, filling the void that was left when Jared Borgetti started to get old in 2005. Somehow, Borgetti limped through that final in 2007. From the 2006 World Cup until the 2010 World Cup, Mexico didn't have a consistent, reliable striker. Zombie Borgetti started in 2007 and Miguel Sabah started the 2009 Gold Cup Final, while Guillermo Franco and Carlos Ochoa started the two World Cup qualifiers. Sadly, the United States did not have the fortune of facing Mexico in a big game that Omar Bravo started during this period.

Mexico had another experience with a gap between class strikers, in the mid-90s. There was a good four year period between when Hugo Sanchez got too old to be effective and when Borgetti emerged. The exact same thing happened to Mexico again between 2006 and 2010, but it was worth the wait. Chicharito has emerged as a star, while Giovani dos Santos has finally found out that there is more to life than getting drunk and scarfing down pizza. He's replaced Cuauhtemoc Blanco in a similar manner, as Mexico were stuck with Nery Castillo for a period of time they would probably like to forget. Sad, I actually kind of liked Gio's raccoon belly.

While Mexico have improved, the United States have arguably improved as well. No disrespect to Brian Ching, who started all four of the above-listed games, but he's not exactly a dynamic striker. He was solid in the air and solid at holding up the ball, but even at his young age, I'll take Juan Agudelo over Ching any day. Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey are more experienced, Jermaine Jones is a huge upgrade over Ricardo Clark and Alejandro Bedoya is better than Zombie DaMarcus Beasley

Also, it appears that the days of Bob Bradley blindly playing a 4-4-2 (or a variant) with no regard to his opponent's shape are gone. Such a system would probably allow Mexico to keep the ball for an incredible amount of time, which would lead to the United States getting frustrated and eventually drifting out of position. Instead, Bradley is likely to use three men in the center with one of Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan or Sacha Kljestan playing in front of two holding midfielders.

His team selection is a minor mystery, complicated by a number of factors. Donovan has come off the bench in the last two matches for the United States, but leaving the USMNT's all-time leading goal scorer out of the starting lineup against Mexico sounds like a really good way for Bradley to lose the dressing room. His inclusion is a given, as is Dempsey's, meaning that either Kljestan or Bedoya must be dropped. Agudelo could get dropped in a bizarre move where Bradley plays Dempsey as a false nine, but it's doubtful he's that adventurous. 

Mexico's lineup selection would be clear-cut if everyone was healthy, but Andres Guardado's sprained ankle complicates things. Honduras succeeded at beating the living hell out of the left winger in the semi-finals, and as a result, he's doubtful for the game. Angel Reyna offers the closest thing to a like-for-like swap for El Tri, while a move to a 4-4-2 with dos Santos on the wing and Aldo de Nigris up top doesn't seem totally out of the question. 

Guardado's injury is a massive loss for Mexico, as he was a candidate for player of the tournament before going down. Now, that seems like an honor that will almost certainly go to Hernandez or Dempsey, who will both start the final. You would be hard pressed to find someone who makes a coherent case for anyone but Hernandez and Dempsey being the most important players to their respective teams, and they will be the attacking players to watch in Saturday's game.

The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. will be sold out for the game, likely with 75 percent of the crowd being Mexico supporters. Once again, the United States will be playing a road game on their home soil, much like they do in every USA-Mexico game that is not played in Columbus, Ohio. It's an atmosphere many of the players have dealt with before, and it won't be any different than the 2007 game at Soldier Field in Chicago. Benny Feilhaber is injured and therefore, unable to pull a rabbit out of his hat for the USMNT, but perhaps a new legend will be made this year.

For more on how the two teams got to this point, check out our USA vs. Panama stream and our Mexico vs. Honduras stream. For more updates leading up to USA vs. Mexico, bookmark this StoryStream. For all of our previous Gold Cup coverage, check out the Gold Cup 2011 section. For more on Mexican football, including the Mexican national team, the Mexico vs. USA game, and the Mexican Primera, check out SB Nation's Mexican football blog FMF State Of Mind.

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USA Vs. Mexico: On Effort, Hype And The Perils Of Following In England's Footsteps

The rise of the United States as a major power in soccer has come with an odd side effect: USA fans are becoming indistinguishable from English ones. And that's not a good thing.

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