The USA gained a lot from the game. It gave the newer young players an opportunity to show what they can do under pressure after being a goal down at half time. In addition they were able to find ways to handle the sort of bunker defense that more and more teams are showing when playing the USA. Most teams, below the top five in the world, dare not challenge the US players with an attacking game since they are well aware of the powerful scoring threat that can be unleashed. So we have seen more of the boring, defensive bunkering played by teams who feel that their counter attack is the only possible chance they have of staying in or winning a game against the USA. The talented Mexico National team players have begun to believe in themselves, and after their defeat of Canada gave the United States great competition. Their performance in this CONCACAF championship has given real meaning and quality to the tournament.
Post game quotes
U.S. head coach April Heinrichs
I didn't think we were flat, but we made a couple of mistakes in the back early, partly because we hadn't been under a lot of pressure in this tournament, and partly because of Joy's calf injury. You've got to credit Mexico because they beat Canada, and they came out and played well against us. They had three good chances against us and stuffed two of them. There is something to be learned as far as evaluating the particular mistakes.
All in all I was very pleased because one of the things we talked about at halftime was having composure in front of the goal and playing the flanks. We created our chances and finished them. During the World Cup, we were never behind a goal until the semifinals. It's important as a team that if we get behind, that we know we can come back. I think we took a big step in that direction knowing that we won't be rattled if we fall behind. We can adjust tactically, but we have to just keeping believing in ourselves and that's what we saw tonight.
The best thing that could have happened to the U.S. team is that we got challenged in this final. I'm thankful to Mexico in that regard, because they challenge us and now our team comes off the field and feels good about winning the CONCACAF qualifying tournament. We feel good about what we learned about ourselves coming back from two goals and I think we also understand having watched Canada the other night that you can't take things for granted.
If you are down, you have to play smart. We really pecked away and pecked away and I had a sense that it was only a matter of time. It's a tribute to the players that were out on the field. We started a young team tonight and in general we had too many players that didn't play wellbut in the second half, all the players that were struggling in the first half, got a little bit better and that's always a good sign of a team.
The substitutions that came in made a huge impact. Cat Reddick came in and was outstanding at the back. She sets play well, is a good heading presence and was steadying influence. Mia and Abby gave us some life in a three-front and really put pressure on Mexico. The minute we shifted to a three-front, it changed the game. We stretched Mexico from east to west and from north to south.
Tonight's game may have drawn some more people from Costa Rica into the women's game. They saw Costa Rica play well against Canada, they saw Mexico beat Canada and then a barn-burner tonight. I think both teams tonight won more fans for the women's game.
U.S. Team captain Julie Foudy
It was awesome mentality. We dug ourselves a bit of a hole, but Maribel is such a world-class finisher and she finished two great goals. When we switched systems, we played much better. We were a little more condensed, we were holding the ball and getting in. When Mia and Abby came in they gave us a great spark up top. It's a great when you go down two goals to have the confidence and mentality to comeback. It was a big win.
We said at halftime that is was just one goal. In the second part of the first half, we had them on their heels so we said and just to keep going at them, to get our backs going forward and play the flanks. It was crowded in the middle so we just needed to keep creating chances.
U.S. midfielder Kristine Lilly
We went down, but the whole time when I was looking into my teammates eyes I could see we were in the game. When things are rough, or when we get in big games, those are things that this team thrives on. Everyone who came off the bench gave us a lift and we just held strong. I saw Foudy take the second shot and just get a foot on it. I just saw it rolling and I saw it hit the post, and I was like, "please go in!" It was fitting that she would get the winning goal. She's played great all tournament and it was only right for our captain to get the winning goal.
Defender Heather Mitts
Obviously being down, your whole mentality changes. We came out in the second half and went after them. That shows a lot of character about this team. Everyone stepped up big time.
U.S. forward Mia Hamm
Mexico has always been a talented team and they earned a spot the Olympics. They came out with the same enthusiasm and excitement that you saw against Canada. They came after us and put us under a lot of pressure in the back and Maribel scored two amazing goals. Credit goes to them, they played extremely hard, but I am proud of how our team didn't give up. At the same time, they have to be going into their Olympic preparations with a lot of confidence and rightly so.