EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP)—Vindication. Satisfaction. Domination.
After finally earning a win against the Americans on U.S. soil, Mexico’s players used all of those words Sunday to describe the 5-0 romp that gave them their fifth Gold Cup championship.
Oh, and one other noun: pride.
“I believe this is a great win for Mexico because we showed the pride we have in our hearts today,” Giovani Dos Santos said. “This is a huge step for us in the process.”
That process had included no progress this decade when the United States hosted its southern rival. The Mexicans were 0-9-2 since a March 1999 victory at San Diego.
They snapped that victory drought before an overwhelmingly pro-Mexico crowd of 79,156 at Giants Stadium with an offensive onslaught in the second half. Captain Gerardo Torrado scored on a penalty kick in the 56th minute, then the inexperienced U.S. squad came unglued.
“When a goal is scored, there’s always a change in the game and we didn’t respond well,” coach Bob Bradley said of the worst American home loss since a 5-0 stinker against England on June 16, 1985.
As the green-clad fans rocked Giants Stadium, game MVP Dos Santos and Carlos Vela scored 5 minutes apart despite several brilliant saves by Troy Perkins. Indeed, it seemed the goalkeeper was the only American on the field during the 11-minute blitz in which Mexico’s attackers could have sprinted all the way back to Azteca Stadium without being touched.
The fiesta was on.
“That’s soccer,” Dos Santos said of the penalty kick after he was fouled in the area by Jay Heaps. “Afterward, you must still do your job. That’s how it is, how it must be.”
While the Mexicans kept at it, the Americans wilted.
Jose Antonio Castro and Guillermo Franco put the finishing touches on Mexico’s dynamic win. Castro scored off a great through-pass from Vela, a substitute who energized Mexico when he entered the game after halftime.
The United States, fielding a raw squad after the top team finished second in the Confederations Cup last month, could not maintain American dominance of its continental rival. Not even close.
We were chasing the game a lot in the second half, and it tired us out,” said forward Brian Ching, a regular with the ‘A’ team who missed the Confederations Cup with an injury. “Look at anybody in the United States and this loss has to anger you.”
Mexico fell 2-0 in February in a World Cup qualifier in frigid Columbus, Ohio, the most recent meeting of the archrivals. The nations meet again in Mexico City on Aug. 12, but then the full American roster will be on hand, along with several of the players who carried El Tri to this Gold Cup crown.
But that is another tale. For now, after a 10-year wait, there was sweet victory in commanding style.
“The win injects us with some motivation, confidence and maturity,” Dos Santos said.
At the final whistle, the green-clad Mexican players stormed onto the field in jubilation, mobbing Dos Santos and coach Javier Aguirre. Then they saluted the crowd that made the Meadowlands sound more like Mexico City, making a tour of the pitch with the trophy in hand.
“This ends here in this locker room,” Aguirre said. “we’re celebrating now, but that’s it. Tomorrow is another day and we begin working for Aug. 12, and that’s a different story.”
For the Americans, it was a return to reality. After Bradley coached them to a runner-up finish in the Confederations Cup in South Africa, he gave most of the players a pass for the Gold Cup. Still, the untested fill-ins showed versatility and fortitude—at least until Mexico ran over them in a spectacular 45-minute scoring burst.
“We have to learn from this,” midfielder Stuart Holden said, “and use it in the future.”
Notes: Mexico has won the Gold Cup in 1993, ’96, ’98, 2003 and this year. The United States also has four titles: 1991, 2002, 2005 and 2007 … Heaps drew a second yellow card and was ejected in the 88th minute … Mexico’s Guillermo Ochoa needed to make just one save … The United States had a 58-game home unbeaten string against CONCACAF opponents snapped. The last loss was Sept. 1, 2001, to Honduras.