PASADENA, California (Reuters) - Tim Howard made the long walk from the United States locker room to the departing team bus Saturday, fuming over his team’s CONCACAF Gold Cup final loss to Mexico and their second rate status on home turf.
Once Mexico had recovered from falling two goals behind early on to claim a 4-2 victory, wild celebrations broke out at the Rose Bowl Stadium that reaffirmed the Americans’ feeling that they were visitors in their own home.
”I think it was a... disgrace that the entire post match ceremony was in Spanish,“ a seething Howard told reporters. ”You bet your ass, if we were in Mexico City the ceremony would not be all in English.
“CONCACAF should be ashamed of themselves.”
The U.S. were swallowed up by the sea of green and red worn by many of the Mexican fans that made up the passionate crowd of 93,420.
But the Americans did not lose the match because of crowd support, they lost it because Mexico proved to be the better, more dynamic side for the second Gold Cup final in a row.
The U.S. will take away a few positives from the tournament, including the continued progression in Bob Bradley’s new possession oriented focus.
But in the end, the Americans confirmed what they already knew before being exposed by Mexico - there is a lot of work to be done to close the gap.
”We have to take it up another level,“ said U.S. attacker Landon Donovan. ”In these games we want to even things out a little more and not have them (Mexico) have the possession the whole time.
“They showed that they’re the team to beat right now. We have to go catch them.”
The disappointment of letting slip an early two-goal advantage was a big disappointment to the U.S. side, who again failed to close out a final from a winning position.
In the 2009 Confederations Cup Final, the U.S. led five-times world champions Brazil 2-0 only to lose 3-2 loss after faltering late on.
This time the Americans were caught before halftime with Pablo Barrera, Giovani Dos Santos and the rest of the Mexican attackers taking over the match in the second half.
“We’re most disappointed that we went up 2-0 and ended up losing. It’s a tough night for us,” said U.S. defender Steve Cherundolo, who suffered an ankle injury in the 11th minute and was substituted.
Cherundolo was replaced by Jonathan Bornstein, a development that hurt the U.S. backline as the substitute struggled to deal with the pace of the Mexican attack.
“They have a lot of skilled attackers but I thought we did well for the most part,” Bornstein said. “We could have done better as a team defense.”
Howard was far less analytical after his team was once again overshadowed by the Mexicans.
“It’s beyond me how they rallied back, because we hit them (early),” he said. “It all hurts when you get your butt kicked. And that’s what happened today.”
Editing by Patrick Johnston