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August 12, 2009
Late goal dooms U.S. against Mexico

Charlie Davies’ early goal raised U.S. hopes, but Mexico rallied to win Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier.
Charlie Davies’ early goal raised U.S. hopes, but Mexico rallied to win Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
MEXICO CITY—The monkey is still there. The United States still has not won at Azteca Stadium. A late second half goal by Gold Cup hero Miguel Sabah made sure of that, as Mexico overcame an early deficit to win Wednesday’s World Cup qualifying match 2-1.

The U.S. is now 0-19-1 in qualifying at Azteca, and 0-23-1 overall.

For a while, it looked as though the United States would at least walk away with a tie, but
Sabah, who had just entered the game, scored from close range in the 82nd minute. Efrain Juarez beat Donovan deep on the right side of the penalty area to get off a shot which Jay DeMeritt blocked. The rebound fell to the unguarded Sabah, who blasted it past U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard from 10 yards.

Hopes were high for the Americans after they broke through the Mexican defense and the Azteca mystique early on. Donovan sent a beautifully played ball from the midfield circle to Charlie Davies wide on the left. Davies cut toward the penalty area, outracing three Mexican defenders before bending a ball around diving Mexican goalkeeper Memo Ochoa to the right post.

The lead did not hold very long, as Mexico took advantage of a defensive lapse in the 19th minute. Cuauhtemoc Blanco poked a ball to Israel Castro, who blasted a 35 yard shot past Carlos Bocanegra, who had flinched away from the play. The shot sailed over U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard, hit the crossbar and bounced into the net, reawakening the Azteca crowd.

Beyond the goal, which came on their only shot on frame, the U.S. managed little in the way of offense in the first half. Mexico, on the other hand, peppered Howard, testing him from afar. In the 3rd minute, Andres Guardado blasted a 30-yard shot right at Howard and in the 16th minute, following a free kick, Blanco sent a one-hopper from 30 yards which Howard grabbed easily.

Gio Dos Santos got free inside the box in the 24th minute, but sent his shot just wide of the right post.

Mexico also had an opportunity off a free kick at the left edge of the penalty area, but Howard punched away Blanco’s shot.

Coach Bob Bradley kept his starting eleven on the field for the beginning of the second half, but made a pair of changes in the 58th minute, with Stuart Holden coming in for Ricardo Clark and Benny Feilhaber replacing Brian Ching.

Even with the defensive moves, the U.S. continued to push forward, but their passes out of the midfield did not find their marks.

In the 71st minute, Holden sent a beautiful ball between two Mexican defenders, but Davies just missed a sure goal on a diving header. A minute later, Davies got wide open to score, but was called offside.

The U.S. suffered a big blow when Davies went down with cramps in the 75th minute. He had to be removed form the game, replaced by Jozy Altidore.

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