Goal in the Southwest

Mexico captured its seventh CONCACAF Gold Cup title on Sunday, defeating Jamaica 3-1 in the final. The outcome set up a playoff between Mexico and the United States, the 2013 Gold Cup champion, on Oct. 9 for the right to represent CONCACAF at the 2017 Confederations Cup, a tune-up for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. .

This victory also silenced some critics following Mexico’s opening round Group C match at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mexico faced Guatemala in the second match of a doubleheader. With the game being held in Arizona, it was essentially a home game for Mexico, with a pro-Mexican crowd of 62,910 filling the Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. .

As fans gathered prior to the start time for the second match, it was obvious who they were in support of. There was high energy, Mexican banners adorned the stadium, and fans were displaying the country’s colors on their faces and apparel. .

The excitement and enthusiasm that rocked the house at the start of the match gradually subsided because despite having several opportunities to score, the heavily favored Mexican team staggered to a disappointing 0-0 draw. .

In the opening match, Trinidad & Tobago looked to take advantage of a depleted Cuban side as several Cuban players were no shows to the facility on Sunday. The Cuban was hoping to rebound after a lackluster start to its Gold Cup challenge. Assistant boss Walter Benitez hoped the arrival of head coach Raul Gonzalez Triana and a host of missing players would help Cuba move on from a miserable opening match. .

Coach Triana and six players were left stranded in Antigua due to “logistical problems”, with reports circulating that the group had experienced visa problems. By contrast, Trinidad and Tobago began their campaign in positive fashion, defeating Guatemala 3-1 thanks to goals from Sheldon Bateau, Cordell Cato and Joevin Jones. .

T&T would seize the opportunity to pounce on the depleted Cuban squad and handed them a 2-0 defeat. .

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Jamaica Mexico Advance to Cup Final

mattocksscore-217x300Jamaica scored two quick goals in the span of 5 minutes and held off the heavily favored USA squad 2-1 to advance to the Gold Cup Finals for the first time in the history of the competition.

It was evident the green, gold and black were faster to balls on the pitch. The USA didn’t help themselves playing tentatively. Their reluctance to match the energy of the Jamaicans cost them an early goal as Darren Mattocks out jumped the much taller John Brooks for a header off a throw in by Kemar Lawrence to take a 1-0 lead in the thirtieth minute.

A second misstep (no pun intended) by the U.S. National Team led to Jamaica’s second goal of the game. In an unlikely series of events, Goalkeeper Brad Guzan snagged a kick on goal and sprinted through traffic to try and get the ball downfield. In his effort to make a play Guzan was cited for stepping over the line of the box. As you can see in the photo, Guzan’s foot is squarely over the line.

guzan-180x180Michael Bradley scored the only goal for the U.S. off a rebound that struck the chest of Jamaica’s goalkeeper Ryan Thompson. Thompson, who was starting in place of Dwayne Miller, had successfully dodged several bullets in the game.

It wasn’t bullets that were flying in the second semi-final; it was cards- lots and lots of cards. Panama’s all-time leading scorer Luis Tejada received a red card from American referee Mark Geiger for a hand to the face of Francisco Rodriguez in the 24th minute. Tejada did not leave quietly voicing his displeasure to the crowd and directly into the ear of Geiger.
The antics of Tejada drew boos from the stands as well as a bevy of beverages, food, and other assorted items. When Tejada attempted to leave the field it drew more hand lobbed projectiles. In the spirit of gamesmanship Mexico’s goalkeeper, Guillermo Ochoa, walked the 33-year old forward to the tunnel exit.

tripping-180x180Eleven minutes into the second half, hulking defender Roman Torres scored a header past Ochoa to give Panama a 1-0 lead. A lead that was holding up as the clock ticked towards the 90 minute mark. Two more questionable yellow cards were issued to Panamanian players. For those keeping count, it was 1-Red, 3-Yellow for Panama and 2-Yellow for Mexico.

None of the cards issued to Panama compared to the penalty issued to Torres in the 88th minute. In an attempt to outrun Mexico’s Carlos Esquivel to the ball in the box, Torres fell, with the aid of a knee to the back of the legs from Esquivel, and landed with his hand on the ball. Geiger cited the Torres for a handball instead of Esquivel for the tripping and awarded a free kick to Mexico. Midfielder Andres Guardado rocketed the ball by Penedo to tie the game 1-1.

Geiger’s call upped the ante of frustration from the red card assessed to Tejada to an entirely new level of disgust.

Another penalty on Panama awarded Mexico a free kick in extra time. And once again Guardado made it count to seal the game for Mexico.

Mexico will face Jamaica on Sunday, July 26 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA.

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