PASADENA, California :The United States is looking to take an edge over Mexico when the neighboring rivals meet in their third consecutive Gold Cup final Saturday.Mexico downed the Americans 5-0 in 2009 after the United States won 2-1 in 2007.
The United States and Mexico have won nine of the 10 Gold Cup titles since the tournament began in 1991, with Mexico winning five times. The Gold Cup winner qualifies for the 2013 Confederations Cup, an international preview tournament ahead of the World Cup in Brazil the following year.
The United States did not concede a goal, after a 2-0 loss to Panama in its first group match, en route the Gold Cup final. "We're playing a lot better and, sometimes, it's good to get a wake-up call," U.S. midfielder Landon Donovan said. "We've said all along that this tournament is a marathon. Now, we find ourselves in the final with a chance to win it."
The Americans will play without forward Jozy Altidore, who scored twice in the Gold Cup. Altidore will miss 4 to 6 weeks after straining his left hamstring in the victory over Jamaica. Saturday night's game is the latest installment in a rivalry that has featured World Cup qualifiers in frigid Ohio and in Mexico City's altitude, and the United States' 2-0 victory over Mexico in the round of 16 of the 2002 World Cup.
Enhancing the drama will be a sellout crowd of more than 90,000 at Pasadena, California, with the vast majority supporting Mexico. "We have fewer fans than any other team," the United States' Clint Dempsey said. "We need more. But we're a strong team. I hope one day we'll get more U.S. fans in the stadiums. For now, we're concentrating on winning."Mexico's Giovani Dos Santos said that such support can be intimidating.
"In a Gold Cup, Mexico always has to have a winning mentality," Dos Santos said. "We have the players. We're coming to win it. We want to remain champions or it will be a disaster for everybody." Mexico is counting on 23-year-old Manchester United forward Javier Hernandez, who leads the Gold Cup with seven goals. He scored 20 goals in all competitions during his first season with Manchester United.
Mexico reached the finals despite losing six players from its original squad. Five, including two starters, tested positive for clenbuterol, a banned substance. The sixth, defender Ricardo Osorio, fell ill and left the team.AP