Mexico has not always looked good or played well during the 2013 edition of the Gold Cup coming into Saturday’s quarterfinal match against Trinidad and Tobago. In the game played in the Georgia Dome, Mexico was made to grind and labor but ended up winning 1-0 on a goal scored by Raul Jimenez.
Mexico came out with the same outfield lineup as their previous game, their final group stage game against Martinique playing a 4-3-3 formation. The only change was in goal as Jonathan Orozco would regain his place in goal over Moisies Muñoz. México came out looking to gain the initiative and control the flow of the game within the first 10 minutes of the game as the team had a few chances.
Like previous opponents, Trinidad and Tobago were allowed to settle into the game and sit back. They sought to frustrate Mexico and hit them on the counter. The main offensive plan on the part of Trinidad and Tobago was to play long balls towards forward Kenwyne Jones, a player who plays for Premier League club Stoke City. The idea, once the ball gets to Jones, is to have him either win the 50/50 ball and control possession of it or flick the ball towards the wings to let one of his two wing midfielders run onto the ball.
This strategy almost saw Trinidad and Tobago take a lead against the run of play as the islanders had two clear shots on goal within a period of a minute, midway through the first half.
In the second half, Mexico continued to press forward and looked to open their scoring account. But as usual, they were lacking in the final third by either misfiring on that last pass or just missing on a shot. In addition, John Williams, goalkeeper for Trinidad, had a few critical saves to keep the score line at 0-0.
Just as it appeared that the pressure on Mexico and its coach Jose Manuel De La Torre would be suffocating as the game seemed like it was headed to extra time, Mexico scored. Miguel Layun, a player who is earning himself a spot on the ‘A’ squad, delivered a precise low cross that Club America teammate Raul Jimenez flicked into goal seven minutes from time.
Mexico will now take on Panama in their semi-final game on Wednesday. Both teams faced off two weeks ago in a group play with the Panamanians winning 2-1. While Mexico had more volume in it’s attack, the team still is playing below par. If not for the fact they played a sub-par team in a tournament that has a low quality of play this year, Mexico would have probably been eliminated.
That said, Mexico continues on and will have a chance to keep improving (even though that improvement is minimal) and put themselves a win away from defending their title in what has been a sub-par Gold Cup in terms of play.