México's most important match of the year

México, by winning the 2009 Gold Cup, was rewarded with experience and very gratifying conclusions.

It was not so much that it did so on American soil against a U.S. team that hadn't lost at home in more than 10 years, but that some doubts about the team vanished and silenced some critics whose murmurs had risen recently to become shouts of sarcasm, deception and resignation.

The Gold Cup also served to prepare the Mexican team for its Aug. 12 home match against the United States in a World Cup qualifier, and introduced the new generation of players like Giovani Dos Santos and Carlos Vela. The new guard, which has been much talked about recently, was discovered in the U.S. game.

Mexican coach Javier Aguirre must now get his team ready to beat the U.S. a second time, this time against the Americans' first-string.

The U.S. knows that the pressure is all on México. And, even though a loss is not what the U.S. wants, the Americans realize that a tie is almost as good as a victory and that a win against México would practically leave their neighbor out of the World Cup.