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Mexico Tops Costa Rica in OT at Gold Cup

The Associated Press


June 17, 2007

Jared Borgetti headed in a goal from five yards out in the eighth minute of overtime to give Mexico a 1-0 victory over Costa Rica in a CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal Sunday.

Mexico advances to the semifinals on Thursday in Chicago against the winner of the Guadeloupe-Honduras game later Sunday. Canada plays defending champion United States in the other semifinal of the Gold Cup, the championship of North and Central America and the Caribbean.

Borgetti, who leads Mexico with 43 career goals in international play, took a crossing pass in front of the goal from Adolfo Bautista to score the winner.

Costa Rica's Allan Aleman was ejected in the 43rd minute when he got his second yellow card for vehemently arguing a non-call. That forced Costa Rica to play with 10 men the rest of the way in regulation.

Moments after Borgetti scored, Costa Rica lost Alvaro Saborio to a red card because of a hard foul. In the final minute of overtime, Mario Camacho received a red card for a hard foul and Costa Rica finished the game with eight players.

Mexico had a flurry of shots on goal early in the second

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Mexico reaches tournament semifinal with 1-0 win

Victory at Reliant tough for favorite; Costa Rica sees red


Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle


The Mexican national team is headed to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, but it will get there with heavy legs and diminished credibility.

With its best men on the field and a three-man advantage to finish the match, favorite Mexico relied on a header by Jared Borgetti to defeat Costa Rica 1-0 in overtime Sunday before 70,092 at Reliant Stadium in a game in which the refereeing of Terry Vaughn took center stage.

"It was a difficult win against a rival like any other, trying to advance to the next stage," Mexico coach Hugo Sánchez said. "It was a rough match, and the level of physical exertion by both teams was tremendous."

The win, which came before a sellout crowd that gave Reliant a World Cup feel, sent the Tricolores to Thursday's semifinal doubleheader at Soldier Field in Chicago. There they will meet tournament dark horse and first-time participant Guadeloupe, which upset Honduras 2-1 at Reliant.

The other semifinal will pit the defending champion United States against Canada, with the winners meeting in Sunday's final at Chicago to determine the best team in the North and Central American and Caribbean region.

Borgetti's goal came in the 97th minute after the striker broke free of his mark, sprinted toward the goal to meet a precise cross by Adolfo Bautista and headed it in past a helpless José Francisco Porras, the Costa Rican keeper.

"It took us awhile to get the score," Borgetti said. "We had to wait for the right moment."

"It would have been better to have won playing 11 against 11. When they went a man down their defensive stance limited us."

Mexico stepped into Reliant Stadium on Sunday facing an underdog for the second time in a week. Much like Wednesday's 1-0 Group C win over Panama, El Tri instead proceeded to reaffirm the notion they're far from living up to the favorite label with which they entered the competition. Playing a rival that better suits its game, Mexico looked more fluid and crisper on passes than in group-stage action.

"We suffered to get this win, but nothing is easy these days," said Mexico defender Carlos Salcido. "The team improved. It played the ball better; it had a better attitude."

For the Costa Ricans, who played a man down after a first-half red card and lost two more players in overtime to red cards, the result had everything to do with what they claimed was pro-Mexico officiating by U.S. referee Vaughn.

"Both sides fouled," Costa Rica coach Hernán Medford said. "When you enter a match with a referee leaning one way and not calling a fair game, then the other team can do the same, but you get the worst of it. It's clear that the first two red cards never were in fact ejections. I saw the replays."

In question were the ejections of Allan Alemán in the 41st minute for yellow-card accumulation — the second card came after Alemán, who was first booked in the 37th minute, protested a call — and of Alvaro Saborio in the 103rd minute for alleged contact with Mexican defender Francisco Rodriguez.

"If the CONCACAF has favorites, then we're in bad shape," Medford said. "I'm not saying the tournament is fixed at all but that it puts doubts in my head. It does."

The accusations fueled speculation by the likes of Panama coach Alexandre Guimaraes that the likes of Mexico and the United States, the tournament's biggest draws, receive favorable treatment and refereeing. Guimaraes had two players ejected against Mexico and was left short-handed in a 2-1 quarterfinal loss to the United States on Saturday.

"Oh, yeah? I imagine they're not considering all the kicks they sent our way," Mexico midfielder Gerardo Torrado said.

Costa Rica was whistled for 30 fouls to Mexico's 16.

After holding a slight first-half advantage in ball possession but getting no scoring chances to show for it, Mexico had its best moments early in the second half, with Costa Rica a man down and bunkered in its half betting on the counterattack.

Jaime Lozano came close to putting El Tri ahead in the 51st minute, but his free kick to the upper right-hand corner of Porras' goal was met by the gloves of the airborne keeper.

Four minutes later, Porras denied a low but potent 12-yarder to the opposite side by Alberto Medina. Porras again flew to save a left-footed drive by Carlos Salcido from the left flank in the 69th minute.

Mexico's last chance at avoiding overtime saw substitute Cuauhtémoc Blanco turn in a 19-yard blast to Porras' gloves in injury time.

Costa Rica's only real chances of the match came on a Saborio blast from outside the box, which flew just high of Oswaldo Sánchez's goal in the 86th minute, and Gabriel Badilla's header in the 89th minute, which met Sánchez's glove before going out off the cross bar.

Badilla also saw a header off a corner kick sail just high in the 113th minute in what was Costa Rica's lone chance in the two 15-minute overtime periods. The Ticos would go on to lose Mario Camacho to a red card for a hard foul on Blanco just before match's end.

The match is behind Mexico, with all eyes focused on Guadeloupe as El Tri attempts to garner a fifth Gold Cup trophy.

"We're improving, and we're going to try to do things right, but there's a lot of work to be done," Salcido said. "That's the truth. We must get better."


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Guadeloupe continues surprising run

French province ousts Honduras, awaits Mexico in tournament semifinal


Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle


To FIFA, soccer's governing body, they're a team without a country.

They can't play in the World Cup.

And if somehow they defy the odds and win the CONCACAF Gold Cup, Guadeloupe won't be allowed to play in the Confederation's Cup.

Guadeloupe, a French province making its first appearance in a major international tournament, continued its surprising run with a 2-1 victory over Honduras in a Gold Cup quarterfinal Sunday at Reliant Stadium.

Guadeloupe will play four-time champion Mexico in a semifinal Thursday at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Defending champion United States will play Canada in the other semifinal. The Americans are playing in the semifinals for the eighth time in the nine Gold Cups.

The U.S., Mexico and Canada have combined for all eight Gold Cup championships since the tournament began in 1991.

Guadeloupe is just happy to be in the field after finishing fourth in the Caribbean tournament last January.

"The main goal originally was to move onto the second round," midfielder Stephane Auvray said. "Now we are in the semifinals and we want to win. But if we lose, we lose. We know that everybody thinks we are the small team. So we just have to play. The pressure is with them."

Guadeloupe took a 2-0 lead over Honduras during a four-minute stretch midway through the first half. Jocelyn Angloma, a 41-year-old midfielder and former member of the French national team, began the scoring by sending a header from Richard Edward Socrier just past the outstretched arms of goal keeper Adalid Puerto in the 17th minute. Three minutes later, Socrier added another goal off an assist from Loic Loval.

Honduras scored its only goal in the 70th minute when forward Carlos Pavon took a cross pass and hit a header from six yards out to cut the lead to 2-1.

Honduras had plenty of other scoring chances in the second half. Pavon had a breakaway but was tripped in front of the goal in the 52nd minute and his header went wide right in the 55th minute.

Mario Ivan Guerrero had a wide-open net, but his shot sailed over the crossbar. One of Honduras' best scoring chances came in the 62nd minute when Guadeloupe's David Sommeil tried to clear the ball but it deflected off Honduras' Emil Martinez and just missed going into the net.

"This loss is my responsibility because I put all my trust in a winning team," Honduras coach Reinaldo Rueda said. "We lost as a collective group."

Although they lack international competition, Guadeloupe, which is located southeast of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean, has long had a proud legacy of supplying great players to France. Seven of the 23 members of the French team that played in the World Cup final in Germany last summer came from the islands. Angloma played in 37 international games for the French national team before retiring in 2002. He came out of retirement in 2006 to play for his native country.

Guadeloupe's team got together five days before the competition began and coach Roger Salnot does not use a set lineup.

Now Guadeloupe finds itself in exclusive company among the final four teams vying for the championship.

Salnot said it doesn't bother the team that, if they win the tournament, can not advance to play in the Confederation's Cup.

"It's part of the clause when we entered CONCACAF that we play as a state of France," he said. "If by chance we were to win the Gold Cup we couldn't possibly play because it was part of the contract. If one day we were to play as an independent state, of course the goal is to compete in bigger competitions."

For now Guadeloupe has Mexico's attention.

"Guadeloupe is something new to us," Mexico coach Hugo Sanchez said. "It would be a surprise for us and a style we have not played a lot. But they have a lot of respect. By moving on, they deserve it. We will approach it like a final, a championship game."


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From a fan Blog...

June 14, 2007

Mexico's Gold Cup Miracle on Kirby Drive


The Gold Cup at Reliant Stadium proved that in soccer, more than any other sport, a serious underdog, perhaps unable to match the skill or conditioning of its opponent, can overcome great odds to get results against a superior foe, even when completely outclassed on the field of battle.

Yes, on Wednesday night in Houston, Mexico was the little engine that could.

El Tri looked terrible from my section 606 vantagepoint that might be the loftiest point in the city of Houston. Three Panamanian shots were saved by the woodwork, and a couple more saved off the goal line, and countless more saved by Mexican goalie Oswaldo Sanchez. It seemed that Mexico had about one good shot on goal, and that's the one that took down Panama.

Mexican fans celebrate in festive evening of soccer

Mexico in their three first-round games of the Gold Cup haven't looked good at all--in fact, they've gotten worse with each successive game. They were fortunate to start off against Cuba, an opportunity to get a difficult win against a fairly easy team. Then they lost deservedly to Honduras, and then beat Panama last night to take second place in Group C. In fact, the balance of play was so lopsided in the second half that it felt like the red-carding of Panama's Rolando Escobar and Roman Torres might finally make for a fair game for Mexico.

Fortunately for Panama, their loss didn't eliminate them from the tournament. Unfortunately for Panama, they now get a quarterfinal date against the dominant team in this year's tournament, the United States.

I didn't get to look a replay of the game, and as I've hinted, our seats required special equipment for breathing. What did you all think? I friend told me he thought Mexico dominated the first half, but I just didn't see it that way.

El ambiente

Whatever I might think about the Mexican national team, with their poor play last night and their immature and snivelly lack of understanding of the concept of sportsmanship, I love Mexican fans.

New friend at Mexico game, who insists USA will win Gold Cup

I've seen several soccer games in Mexico and been to two Mexico-USA World Cup qualifying matches at Aztec Stadium in the D.F., and never had anything but great experiences with the fans of El Tri. Every World Cup host country since 1994 has seen a flood of Mexican fans--Mexicans might be more willing to travel across the globe to see their selection than just about any other. It's too bad the Mexican team doesn't share the same classiness and sense of joy over the sport that its fans possess.

Last night again was great fun, as usual. Of the 68417 at Reliant Stadium, probably 55000 were Mexican, 10000 were Honduran, and the rest were, well, other. Words don't do justice in describing the explosion at Reliant Stadium after Mexico's goal, but it was cool. It does't have the same emotional power to me as a Dynamo goal, but hearing it with a crowd 4 times as large is moving.

Arriving at the stadium was a bit of a pain (we arrived at halftime of the Cuba-Honduras match), as was leaving after the game. For those of you worried about parking at a downtown Dynamo stadium, I have found parking ingress/egress from downtown for Rockets and Astros games to be much, much quicker than getting out of Reliant for Texans and soccer games. And, as usual, walking out of Reliant Stadium becomes a cattle line, dangerous should somebody try something silly in the middle of everything (and for some reason, stadium staff refused to let fans exit down the stairwells that are available during Texans games.)

The final gripe was the field: it looked like green dust. Lone Star Sports and Entertainment has put a few of these events together now, so it's inexplicable how they could roll out such a disappointing surface. The name "Reliant Stadium" is broadcast to TV viewers all over this part of the world--a fact that perhaps doesn't figure into the Houston Texans' thinking. I'd love our friend Bernardo Fallas to see how this fell through the cracks.

Still, Reliant is a great stadium for watching big soccer games, perhaps one of the best in the world.

Missing Sunday's Gold Cup quarfinals

Go ahead, point and make fun of me, but I have to miss the quarterfinal here in Houston Sunday because we're heading off to Pittsburgh to watch the Saturday and Sunday rounds of the US Open golf tournament. We put our names in the ticket lottery almost a year ago, before Gold Cup was even on the radar, so I really had no choice when we were selected for tickets and my credit card was charged.

Mexico-Costa Rica, then Honduras-Guadeloupe. I'm relying on you to let me know how things go.

Posted by Lark Howorth at June 14, 2007 11:26 PM


World football is so different from any other sport in that the best team doesn't necessarily win all the time. That is one of the reasons it creates such passion on people: your team can be playing the best game of their lives only to loose to a crappy team by an undeserving goal. The reaction of fans to a loss is so appearant in their faces, such an emotion of desbelief can arrive within seconds at any time during the game.

You are right about the pitch at Reliant: RED CARD to those in charge of providing a third rate field for such an important international tournament (the pitch at Robertson's would have made us Houston proud, well, maybe not)

Posted by: Hilton at June 15, 2007 08:24 PM

Lark, special equipment for breathing? You think FIFA will ban the 600 level from international play, like the 8000'+ alt's in S. America?

I'm probably the one referred to about Mexico dominating the first half. I think they definitely had much more possession and were always winning balls at midfield and spent tons of time in Panama's half. But, they weren't as dangerous or as dominant as Panama was in the 2nd half.

Problem with Reliant stadium is the very poor design of crowd flow ..which is amazing considering it is a new stadium. Never had this problem in 1987 built Dolphins stadium, which has more escalators and better design.

Traffic to and from Reliant is horrible and I have not understood, why there is no Park N Ride.

I hope the US can beat Panama...b/c Panama looked pretty darn dangerous. One can't be sure if Mexico was bad or Panama was great.

No surprise that in soccer, pretty often the results don't match the play. Either luck or officiating dictates the results. That's why you need more games played in the group stage ..so that consistency will prevail. European style leagues indicate consistency and you can trust that the League champion, deserved it...most of the time.

Posted by: mike at June 15, 2007 10:39 PM

Lark, the last poster's comment about luck and officiating determining a winner in the knock out round was prophetic. Terry Vaughn yellow carded Aleman for a from behind trip at midfield and then second yellow and ejected him for dissent when there was a "No Call' for the exact same foul committed by Mexico. This resulted in El Tri having a man advantage most of the game and finishing with a three man advantage in OT. Still Los Ticos had a point blank header bounce off the crossbar in the 88th minute that would have won the game. Couldn't tell you if Vaughn or the LSSE folks responsible for the deplorable pitch condition were more embarrassing. I felt sorry for Costa Rica by game's end. When do we get a REAL Soccer stadium with REAL turf anyway?

Posted by: Chris at June 17, 2007 07:36 PM

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