After posting victories over Cuba, Costa Rica and Brazil, the United States soccer team found disappointment against Mexico.
Still, they were mostly pleased with their overall performance in the CONCACAF Gold Cup."If you look back at where we were on Jan. 5 to where we are today, I think this team has made enormous strides to gain the focus we need come June 15 when we play Germany," coach Steve Sampson said, referring to the United States' opening opponent in the World Cup.
The Americans took particular pride in the upset of Brazil in the Gold Cup semifinal, their first victory against the four-time world champions.
"We had a great win against Brazil, and we came out in the second half (against Mexico) and gave it all we had," said goalkeeper Kasey Keller, voted the tournament's MVP.
In Sunday's championship game, before a pro-Mexico crowd of 91,225 at the Coliseum, the United States played its southern neighbors on mostly even terms.
Luis Hernandez's header in the 43rd minute proved the difference as Mexico ended the Americans' six-game win streak and nine-game unbeaten string.
Hernandez knocked in a cross by Salvador Carmona. That Mexican attack began when Ramon Ramirez stole the ball from Alexi Lalas, who was trying to clear it.
"I lost the ball at midfield, and then I didn't pick up the man coming blindside - two individual mistakes, mistakes that can cost you," Lalas said.