Mexico’s – and Martino’s – Gold Cup adventure opens Saturday night with a game against Cuba.
The Gold Cup is Gerardo Martino’s first real test as coach of Mexico after wins from four friendly matches to open his account. El Tri scored 13 goals in those four wins, but that means nothing now. The only thing that matters is winning the tournament that kicks off Saturday night.
Mexico will hope to lift their 8th Gold Cup trophy and they open the regional tournament in their usual position as favorite, facing Cuba first. But the task might not be as easy as it appears.
Being the favorite is almost always a lose-lose situation. If you win, the critics say it’s no big deal because you were supposed to win. And if Mexico loses … well, then it’s a disaster and El Tri is not the elite team they think they are.
Either way, the best approach for Mexico is to ignore the noise outside their locker room and focus only on Saturday night’s task – beating Cuba. Then replicate that approach with every opponent after that.
Mexico and Cuba are in the Group A along with Canada and Martinique, with Canada likely to be the most difficult opponent – relatively speaking.
More from Viva Liga MX
- Guillermo Ochoa is out 4-6 weeks
- The Clásico Regiomontano is Heating Up
- Pumas: In Search of Regaining a Top Spot
- Why the United States Is Set to Overtake Mexico on the World Stage
- Erick Gutierrez is out once again
Cuba enters Saturday’s match with very little preparation. The team has had only two friendlies of late – a loss to Haiti in March and a win over Bermuda more recently. This is not an ideal way to prepare for a game against Mexico, the Concacaf powerhouse.
El Tri has dominated Cuba, winning 15 of their previous 16 match-ups. No doubt, Mexico will be expected to win easily in their Gold Cup opener, and the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, will be packed with enthusiastic Team Mexico fans.
I am going to be as polite as I can be though convinced that Mexico will win by a huge margin. There will be pressure on the goalkeeper – whether it be Guillermo Ochoa, Jonathan Orozco, or Raul Gudiño – to keep a clean sheet. Allowing even a single goal will not be acceptable against a completely outmatched team.