CONCACAF Golden Cup 2007 – An Unlikely Hero Called Benny Feilhaber
Defending champions the USA retained their CONCACAF Gold Cup title this year by beating 2003 champions Mexico 2-1 in the final. The biggest surprise was perhaps Guadeloupe, who, as a non-affiliated association, made it as far as the semi-finals.
Many championship games in any sport, including football, do not live up to the hype but the CONCACAF Gold Cup final on 24 June 2007 between USA and Mexico was anything but disappointing. The Americans’ 2-1 victory in what j has become one of the world’s most I intriguing national team rivalries had a little of everything – from high drama and key saves to an unlikely hero.
For both teams, it was a repeat of the usual formula – the home team prevailing on American soil. The USA, for their part, have never won in Mexico. The big prize awaiting them was a trip to South Africa for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.
The USA’s ultimate goal is to return to the African country in 2010 as one of the 32 World Cup finalists. But this victory alone was reward enough. To rub it in even more, the USA came back from behind against Mexico for the first time in their 73-year rivalry covering 53 matches. Moreover, the Mexicans have not won in the USA since 13 March 1999, when they recorded a 2-1 victory in San Diego.
“It was nice to win the Gold Cup, but it’s always a little sweeter when we beat Mexico,” said defender and USA captain Carlos Bocanegra. “We came from behind. It’s nice we drained their spirits.”
“Awesome. Awesome!” said Landon Donovan, whose 62lui-minute penalty kick levelled the score and tied him with Eric Wynalda for the all-time USA goal-scoring record with 34 goals. “It’s weird. You get into the game and you almost forget it’s a final because it’s Mexico again. But we realised at half-time that this is the last 45 minutes. It’s not that you’re in a qualifying competition and you have more games to play. This is it. It’s now or never.”