Gold Cup Nightly: Semifinals

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Under Hugo Sanchez, Guille Franco was frozen out of the national team. His crime? Being born in Argentina. But under Sven Goran Eriksson and Javier Aguirre the classy Villarreal attacker has found his way back into the El Tri setup.

But tonight in Chicago, Franco made all the difference as Mexico advanced to the Gold Cup finals. Scoring a goal and hitting the critical first penalty in the shootout, Franco can rightfully claim credit for Mexico’s win.

Costa Rica got many chances in the second half off the counter, but struggled to convert several golden chances. Guille Franco and Carlos Vela two super skilled European based players were inserted late for Mexico and they made all the difference. Franco’s 89th minute goal appeared to be the winner for El Tri. Keilor Navas had played an unbelievable game in between the pipes for the Ticos to that point but was hung out to dry on Franco’s goal by poor marking.

In the last minute of stoppage time, Mexico’s defenders strangely pushed up into midfield allowing a desperate long ball to find Froylan Ledezma who calmly despite the situation beat Memo Ochoa and thus we have extra time.

Costa Rica started the game  very well.  Andy Herron set up Alvaro Soborio well but it was cleared just in time for a corner. Then minutes later the Ticos hit the post and the rebound goes just wide with Guille Ochoa hopelessly out of position.

Right before halftime Gio Dos Santos missed an open net with a shot that went just wide of the far post. But in the second half, Mexico began to maintain possession while Costa Rica got some good counter attacking opportunities.

Mexico has to be considered the favorite in the final. If this Mexican team featuring the likes of Vela, Dos Santos, and Franco in the attack cannot beat a US team featuring the likes of Jay Heaps in defense and Troy Perkins in Goal, El Tri may never again beat the USA outside of Azteca.

Honduras 0-2 USA

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