In a game where Mexico could not afford to lose and had to win by any means necessary, the team showed more composure than Canada at the necessary moments in the game to win 2-0.
Coming into tonight’s Group A Gold Cup match in Seattle, both Mexico and Canada were obligated to play better and give a better display from the ones they showed in their losses on Sunday. While the execution was not the best, Mexico came out attacking and looking to strike early.
Through the majority of the first half, Mexico found itself able to dominate ball possession and take a few shots. Just in almost every single one of their games in the calender year so far, El Tri was lacking that necessary pass/shot/intent in its attack attack, which could have opened the scoreline for the team.
That came at the 41st minute of play on a corner kick, as Raul Jimenez scored his first as a senior national team player by heading in a flick from midfielder Jorge Enriquez. The fabricated play was not the first time Mexico had tried something similar on a cornerm but it was the first one that resulted in a score.
The second half was more a reflection of the first half, with Mexico controlling ball possession but not really playing well, and Canada looking like a team with no idea what to do when it happened to gain possession.
Mexico put the game away 11 minutes into the half as Marco Fabian was deemed to have been fouled and brought down inside the penalty area. On replay, is was obvious the referee Joel Aguilar incorrectly called a penalty in egregious manner as there was no contact and if anything, Fabian should have been cautioned for simulation.
Fabian showed composure at the moment of taking the penalty kick as he calmly kicked in the 2-0 advantage for Mexico and ensure they earned their first victory of the tournament.
While Mexico did end up winning, their play still leaves a lot to be desired. The team still plays like it has no clear idea of what to do once in the final third or how to vary its build-up play. In addition, some of the player choices on the part of coach Jose Manuel De La Torre leaves a lot to be desired.
The rigidity and lack of flexibility on the part of De La Torre is the main reason why Mexico have looked subpar so far in their first two Gold Cup games. Playing and starting with players like Carlos Peña and Isaac Brizuela would give this team the necessary attacking mindset it needs to improve, and it would tighten up the defense as well.
Luckily for De La Torre, Mexico picked up a win and he has some “space” with which to operate without being hounded too badly by the Mexican press. That said, they will have to show a lot more in their final group game on Sunday.