First hurdle cleared; “Tata” Martino era opens by adding a nice piece of hardware to El Tri’s trophy case.
El Tri won its 8th Gold Cup title with a 1-0 victory Sunday night in Chicago, avenging the Finals loss to Team USA on the same Soldier Field pitch 12 years ago.
After a physical first half, El Tri began to exert itself, lengthening possessions and probing forward more effectively.
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
In minute 73, winger Rodolfo Pizarro – who had flipped wings with Uriel Antuna – zig-zagged his way in from the right flank and zipped a pass to Raúl Jimenez who trapped cleanly, faked a move to his right, then rolled a back pass into the path of Jonathan dos Santos who was racing in behind him.
Dos Santos one-timed a left-footed scoop shot that kissed off the underside of the crossbar and rippled the net. The L.A. Galaxy player was mobbed by his teammates … but the job was not done yet.
El Tri nervously saw off the remaining 17 minutes. Defender Héctor Moreno nearly cost his team dearly when he scuffed a clearance in minute 77 that his mates scrambled to cover up.
In minute 87, Team USA nearly scored after maintaining possession deep off its own corner kick. Goalie Memo Ochoa parried a low cross from Michael Bradley and right back Jesús Gallardo cleared it away from the goal mouth, but not out of danger. Cristian Roldan pounced but Moreno threw his body in front of the shot, blocking it with his head.
Ref Mario Escobar blew his whistle at 90+3 and the exultation began. Mexico claimed its record 8th Gold Cup trophy, improving its record in Gold Cup finals against the U.S. to 5-1.
Early nerves for El Tri
The Stars and Stripes had a couple chances early as Mexico’s defense appeared to be a step slow. First US wonderboy Christian Pulisic rounded two defenders but was denied by Ochoa. Then Jozy Altidore outmuscled Moreno and dribbled in alone on Ochoa, only to see his left-footer trickle wide.
In minute 51, skipper Andrés Guardado played the hero, denying Team USA a goal from a corner kick by heading a shot off the goal line.
El Tri enjoyed the better of possession throughout, but was unable to generate any real scoring opportunities in the first 45 minutes. For the first 15 minutes of the second half, Mexico flowed forward with time and space but squandered chance after chance.
Team USA fell to 6-5 in Gold Cup finals and all 5 losses have come against El Tri.
Ochoa was named the tournament’s top goalkeeper and Jiménez was awarded with the MVP trophy (5 goals, 2 assists).
Coach “Tata” Martino is now 9-1-0 since taking over the reins for Team Mexico in January.