PASADENA, Calif. - In just a few short minutes, Mexico turned the tables on the United States, then ran away with its second straight Gold Cup win.
This one means more than the title they took in 2009 against a second-team USA. Now El Tri gets to play in the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil a year before the World Cup.
Pablo Barrera scored twice for Mexico, which rallied to beat the United States 4-2 on Saturday night while most of the fans at the Rose Bowl roared approval.
"They're as dynamic as any Mexican team I've played against," said Landon Donovan, who has played for the United States since 2000. "They've got a few guys who can change the game in a heartbeat."
That's almost exactly what happened over the course of seven minutes in the first half.
Barrera scored his first goal on a 17-yard shot inside the right post in the 29th minute, snapping US goalkeeper Tim Howard's Gold Cup shutout streak at 351 minutes.
"That's a tough one," United States coach Bob Bradley of the goal. "That really changed the momentum before the half."
Then in the 36th minute, Dos Santos's pass from the right side of the penalty area deflected off defender Eric Lichaj and toward Howard. Guardado pounced on the ball and poked it in from five yards, tying it at 2.
"They've got a very good mix of attacking talent," Bradley said. "They come at you. They play quickly from the flanks. There's a lot to deal with."
Andres Guardado and Giovani Dos Santos also scored for Mexico, which has won two consecutive Gold Cup titles and six overall.
Mexico's Javier Hernandez, who led this year's Gold Cup with seven goals, was the tournament's most valuable player. Chicharito, as Hernandez's jersey reads, scored 20 goals for Manchester United during England's recently completed Premier League season.
"Things were difficult but the coach told us to fight every single play," Hernandez said of head coach Jose Manuel de la Torre. "Our attitude is in our hands."
Michael Bradley and Landon Donovan scored to help the United States build a 2-0 lead. Donovan became the Gold Cup's leading scorer with 13 goals.
Barrera put Mexico ahead to stay in the 50th minute, slipping a 10-yard shot underneath the right hand of diving goalkeeper Howard and inside the left post.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
"Obviously, the support that Mexico has on a night like tonight makes it a home game for them," Bradley said. "It's something that we expected. As a team, we understand that it's part of what we've got to deal with."
The crowd greeted the introduction of each American player by shouting "Burro!" — "Donkey!"
Guardado played on a slightly sprained left ankle. He was injured during Mexico's 2-0 semifinal victory over Honduras on Wednesday.
Two of Mexico's defenders, Carlos Salcido and Rafael Marquez, also left in the first half because of injury.
Dos Santos ended the scoring in the 76th minute by chipping a 17-yard shot over Lichaj's head at the left post after keeping the ball away from a charging Howard.
The announced attendance of 93,420 was the largest for a Gold Cup game in the United States, but the crowd was decidedly in Mexico's corner.
The Americans responded with an early burst. Bradley put the U.S. ahead in the eighth minute with a 10-yard header off Freddy Adu's corner kick.
Donovan's 11-yard shot inside the left post made it 2-0 in the 23rd minute. Clint Dempsey's pass between two defenders freed Donovan for a breakaway.
Defender Steve Cherundolo, who had played every minute of the Gold Cup for the United States, sprained his left ankle and left in the 11th minute. His disappearance seemed to take some of the focus out of the United States defense.
"We just lost concentration on a couple of plays," Donovan said, "and they made us pay."
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