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US, Mexico renew rivalry in Gold Cup

Associated Press / June 25, 2011

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PASADENA, Calif. — Landon Donovan and the United States are looking for another big win over rival Mexico in the title match of the CONCACAF Gold Cup tonight.

The game is the third consecutive time that the teams will face each other for the title. Mexico won, 5-0, in 2009 at Giants Stadium after the US won, 2-1, in 2007 in Chicago.

The US and Mexico have won nine of the 10 Gold Cup championships since the tournament began in 1991, with Mexico taking five titles.

The Gold Cup winner qualifies for the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, a preview of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The US victory in 2007 sent it to the Confederations Cup, where it beat Spain two years ago before losing to Brazil.

This time, the US used three successive shutouts to reach the Gold Cup final after a 2-0 loss to Panama, the team’s first in group play. Goalkeeper Tim Howard has not allowed a goal in 322 minutes.

“We’re playing a lot better and, sometimes, it’s good to get a wake-up call,’’ 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 will miss 4-6 weeks after straining his left hamstring in the victory against Jamaica.

Tonight’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 Americans’ 2-0 victory in the round of 16 of the 2002 World Cup.

Enhancing the drama will be a sellout crowd of more than 90,000 at the Rose Bowl, with the vast majority supporting Mexico.

“We have fewer fans than any other team,’’ Clint Dempsey said. “We need more. But we’re a strong team. I hope one day we’ll get more US 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 reached the final despite losing six players from its original roster. Five, including two starters, tested positive for clenbuterol, a banned substance. The sixth, defender Ricardo Osorio, fell ill and left the team.

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