Mexico takes on Ecuador in its final exhibition match before the start of the Concacaf Gold Cup.
El Tri is coming off a confident 3-1 win in Atlanta, easing past Venezuela with Roberto Alvarado, Rodolfo Pizarro and Andres Guardado scoring for Mexico. Venezuela was prepping for their regional tournament, the Copa America.
Mexico has looked impressive in the three games under the direction of coach Gerardo Martino who took over in January. El Tri has demonstrated good possession and ball control and looks dangerous on the counter. They will try to further embrace Martino’s playing style in tonight’s friendly at ATT Stadium in Arlington, Texas, with their Gold Cup roster already set.
During Martino’s press conference at ATT Stadium, the coach cleared up concerns about the status of two top players, Edson Alvarez and Carlos Salcedo. Both have been cleared by doctors and are available for Gold Cup duty. Their respective knee injuries should be fully healed by the time the tournament begins in training camp, though Martino hinted that Alvarez could be held out of the Cup opener as a precaution. Salcedo could possibly see action tonight.
One point Martino expressed during his presser was his belief that he has a strong squad going into the Gold Cup and that his talented roster knows their respective roles. He emphasized that he is focused on winning the tournament, despite the absence of veterans who excused themselves from this tournament. Their absence is still a hot topic for reporters.
Aside from trying to grab a win and observing the individual performances of players, the main goal is to avoid injuries. ATT Stadium has a history with El Tri. It is the site where two players suffered traumatic injuries that caused them to miss World Cups. The first victim was midfielder Luis Montes who suffered a broken leg against Ecuador prior to the start of the 2014 World Cup. More recently, in a friendly against Croatia, defender Nestor Araujo got his foot stuck in the turf on a tackle and badly injured his knee, ending his World Cup dreams only weeks ahead of the 2018 World Cup. In that same game, defender Carlos Salcedo picked up a scary shoulder injury that almost cost him but he played in Russia. Let’s hope such situations do not occur this time around.
The perfect scenario would be that – win or lose – nobody picks up an injury that will force coach Martino to drop them from the Gold Cup. I expect Mexico to be the same potent team they have proven to be in all three games under coach Martino. Ecuador will come out blazing, especially since they have a number of players from Liga MX on their roster, perhaps giving them a slight advantage.