MEXICO CITY (AP) -- When the final whistle blew that completed
Mexico's 2-1 win over the United States, the huge crowd of about
110,000 in Azteca Stadium seemed both happy and relieved.
By winning Sunday's World Cup qualifier, the Tricolores avenged
a painful loss three years ago, restored their status as the top
team in the region and kept up a 68-year tradition of never losing
to the Americans at home.
``To get a result in Azteca is always pretty difficult,'' U.S.
midfielder Eddie Lewis said. ``Maybe we're just not quite ready
Lewis scored the lone U.S. goal in the 59th minute off a feed from
Landon Donovan, the first goal in Mexico for the Americans since
1984. Mexico imposed its will for most of the game, getting goals
from Jared Borgetti and Antonio Naelson during a four-minute span
midway through the first half.
For now, Mexico City's 7,200-foot altitude remains too high an
obstacle for the U.S. team to climb. The Americans are 0-22-1 in
Mexico, getting their lone point from a 0-0 tie in a 1997 qualifier.
``We were always taking the initiative,'' said Mexico coach Ricardo
Lavolpe, who received a congratulatory call from President Vicente
Fox. ``For 90 minutes, there was only one team on the field.''
There was some booing and whistling during ``The Star-Spangled
Banner'' but the Americans expected worse. After the game, about
100 people gathered for a peaceful celebration near Mexico City's
Angel of Independence monument. A few first tried to burn, then
trampled a small American flag while chanting ``Osama! Osama!''
Mexico had felt the pressure since its 2-0 loss to the United
States in the second round of the 2002 World Cup, a game that dented
national pride. But that match was played in South Korea, not Mexico,
where the Tricolores are 54-1-4.
A large banner in Estadio Azteca's upper deck proclaimed: ``El
Gigante No Ha Muerto,'' or ``The Giant Is Not Dead Yet.'' And the
Tricolores proved that right: Mexico ended both the Americans' 16-game
unbeaten streak and their 31-game run without a loss against regional
``We weren't lucky enough to make it a blowout,'' Lavolpe said.
After a lackluster opening 20 minutes, Mexico began to play the
ball wide and dominate, leaving the U.S. team gasping for air.
``Our players shut down the last 15 minutes of the first half,
and that cost us the game,'' U.S. coach Bruce Arena said. ``They
were completely done at the 30-minute mark, obviously recovered
a bit at halftime and were able to play a little bit better in the
Arena started just one forward, Eddie Johnson, and used Oguchi
Onyewu in central defense because Eddie Pope is injured. The Americans,
who prepared for the altitude by practicing in Colorado Springs,
Colo., were overly cautious, seemingly afraid to waste energy.
``It's hard because you're just too tired,'' Donovan said. ``You
know if you're going to run 40, 50 yards when you have the ball,
you going to (have to) get back.''
Mexico went ahead in the 30th minute after Francisco Fonseca brought
the ball into the penalty area and tipped it to Salvador Carmona,
who looped it to Jaime Lozano at the far post. As goalkeeper Kasey
Keller raced to cover, Lozano headed the ball back across to Borgetti,
who got by Onyewu and headed it in from 3 yards out.
``When they got the first one in, I think we just died a little,''
With the U.S. defense still looking disorganized in the 33rd minute,
Cuahutemoc Blanco sent a long pass from midfield to Borgetti, who
headed the ball in front of the goal. With Keller coming out, Naelson
banged the ball in off the far post from 11 yards.
``That was a really poor goal, one that I'm sure that we'll see
two or three times in the next couple of days to try to fix that,''
Keller said. Mexico could have scored more but wasted opportunities.
``Coming in at half the way we were playing, my main concern was
let's make sure we don't get blown out,'' Donovan said.
Keller made a leaping save on Pavel Pardo in the second half, then
dived to knock away a free kick by Ramon Morales from just outside
the penalty area. Lewis had the first good U.S. chance in the 53rd
minute but was stopped by goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez on a point-blank
shot. After Lewis scored on a left-footed shot, the Americans never
came close to getting the tying goal.
``We sort of committed our big sin in Mexico City by just dropping
off and letting them have the game,'' Lewis said. ``We started too
tentatively, too conservatively, I think we gave Mexico too much
Mexico (2-0) leads the final round of qualifying in the North and
Central American and Caribbean region with six points, two ahead
of Guatemala (1-0-1) and three in front of the United States and
Costa Rica (both 1-1). The top three nations qualify for the 2006
tournament in Germany, and the fourth-place team goes to a playoff.
While Mexican fans outside Azteca were waving their tricolor flags,
the U.S. team was off to the airport for the flight to Birmingham,
Ala., and Wednesday's qualifier against Guatemala. That's the first
home game for the Americans in the 10-game final round.
``Now,'' Keller said, ``the real pressure is on.''
Notes U.S. MF DaMarcus Beasley received a yellow card in the 37th
minute for a foul on Rafael Marquez. It was Beasley's second yellow
of qualifying, resulting in a suspension for Wednesday's game. ...
Lavolpe was ejected in the 41st minute for arguing, after the fourth
official, Carlos Batres of Guatemala, called referee Rodolfo Sibrian
of El Salvador over to the sideline. (Yahoo! News. Mar 27, 2005)
the purpose of copyright and reserved rights, the code of this idea
page is ram082252. Permission is needed if material content is made
commercial and for-profit. The Pakalian Group (2004).