Even though Mexico had defeated Canada on Thursday evening 2-0, the team was still far from having had any sort of coherent and respectable display in attack. On Sunday afternoon, Mexico defeated Martinique 3-1 in their final Group A match in Gold Cup play in Denver.
The biggest issue in what has been a disappointing 2013 for the Mexican national team has been the fact that the team has looked and played with little to no attacking presence and has lacked any tactical imagination. In the first half of today’s game, ‘El Tri’ gave a much better and spirited display of attack as their tactical variations and mindset were much improved.
From the opening whistle, México attacked with purpose and clarity and had several chances within the first ten minutes of the game. The best one came when forward Raul Jimenez headed a cross from Club America teammate Miguel Layun off the crossbar. The first goal would come at the twenty-first minute when Mexico’s best player of the tournament so far, Marco Fabian would slot home a loose ball after Rafael Marquez Lugo had his attempt on goal saved.
Mexico’s second goal would come as Luis Montes would hit a well taken and placed shot from 28-30 yards out. The play of Montes was part of why Mexico’s attacking play in the first half was much improved as his link up play with Marco Fabian and the forwards served to create several clear chances.
Martinique would pull one back by converting a penalty after a momentary loss of concentration from Miguel Layun but the islanders would not threaten anymore after that. The play in the second half from both team’s was flat as Martinique showed signs of fatigue while Mexico was content to maintain the 2-1 scoreline.
Just as the game entered stoppage time, Mexico once again showed its improved attacking play as substitutes Javier Orozco and Miguel Ponce connected on Mexico’s third goal with Ponce slotting home Orozco’s shot. Mexico will advance to the quarterfinals as the second place finisher in Group A and look set to face Haiti, who are currently second in Group B.
While the team is far from firing on all cylinders and still looks far below what it can be as a squad, Mexico at the very least finally showed it had some coherence in attack. The main reason for this was the inclusion of Carlos Peña in the midfield. His presence from the start at the very least gave the midfield an extra attack minded midfielder and as a result the link up play between the defenders, midfielders, and forwards was improved, especially in the first half.