El Tri will face off against Team USA in an international friendly in a rematch of this summer’s Gold Cup final.
It has been nearly two months since these two old rivals last met, with El Tri claiming the Concacaf Gold Cup with a convincing 1-0 win. The goal was scored by midfielder Jonathan Dos Santos off a nice back-heel pass from Raul Jimenez.
This time around, it is a friendly, though a Mexico-USA match is rarely “friendly.” The two neighbors and Concacaf rivals have a long history that has developed into a classic with both teams taking turns making their claim to be the regional “Giant.” Still, this game will not have the same “bragging rights” since El Tri took home the Gold Cup trophy on July 7, despite not having its top-line players.
For the first time, Mexico coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino will have a full squad of international players available, so it will be interesting to see how aligns the team tonight. He has 31 players to choose from and heavy competition at each position. El Tri will also play Argentina in San Antonio during the current FIFA break. That match takes place on Sept. 10.
Among the big names on the roster is clever playmaking winger Jose “Tecatito” Corona, especially after the debacle that occurred when Martino issued his invitations to a training camp in the spring. Corona accepted the invite, then left team officials out to dry at the airport. He never showed up. He then claimed his ankle needed treatment although his team – Porto – had not reported him injured. “Tata” was angered by this “lack of respect” and many thought Corona would be persona non grata, especially after he played with Porto once league play resumed.
Martino will have options with Corona since Porto has moved him to a right fullback position, giving him freedom to move forward on attack, too.
Hector Herrera is also back with El Tri and looks to be in full swing, ready to take command of the midfield. HH has not played with El Tri since the 2018 World Cup, declining to take part in the Gold Cup because he wanted to focus on his transfer from Porto. He negotiated a move to Atletico de Madrid, a big leap for his career.
With HH in the center midfield area, it will be compelling to see how Martino lines up as he has Edson Alvarez, Andres Guardado, Jonathan Dos Santos, Charly Rodriguez and Erick Gutierrez at his disposal. These guys are all efficient at maintaining possession and starting the offense.
Leading the attack is Raul Jimenez, Mexico’s most in-form player right now. Whether he is with El Tri or Wolves, he is proving himself to be an elite forward. Alongside Jimenez, Martino can use Javier Hernandez and Hirving Lozano, both of whom were absent from the Gold Cup. Hernandez opted to stay home as he was expecting the birth of his first child, and he arrived to training camp fresh off a move to Spain’s Sevilla. “Chicharito” is determined to show both club and country that he is not in decline and wants to remain a relevant player at the age of 31.
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As for “Chucky” Lozano, there has been much talk about who is the better player – Lozano or Team USA star Christian Pulisic. “Chucky” missed the Gold Cup due to injury but now he is in complete focus with his new team, Napoli. He scored for the Serie A side in his debut match. When asked who was better, Pulisic refused to be drawn into the debate, but it is clear that these two will lead their teams for the coming decade, if they remain healthy.
It will be exciting to see how “Chucky,” Jimenez and “Chicharito” work with other attacking players like Rodolfo Pizarro, Uriel Antuna and Alexis Vega. They should cause headaches for opposing defenses and they’ll be fun to watch as El Tri moves toward qualification for the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
A win would be a big boost once again for Martino squad which I am leaning on due to the momentum the players are in recently in and because Mexico has to be me more talented players with a better dynamic on the field.