Today’s Gold Cup match, Mexico vs Martinique, was a tale of two halves: during the first half, Mexico were playing effective soccer and their performance was very reminiscent to their great performances of last year. They were finally opening into dangerous places, passing with conviction, and the wings were used excellently (Layun, specifically, performed excellent on his wing). The first half, indeed, was looking like a revived Mexico who have been underperforming for the majority of this tournament.
However, as the second half began, Mexico once again lost their eye on the ball…a little. Sure, they added another goal to make it a comfortable 3-1 victory, but for major periods of the second half, Chepo’s men looked mediocre once again. There’s no need to scrutinize their faults or their shortcomings in this match because they’re the same ones that have been addressed for the majority of the year.
Instead, we should ask the question: when will Mexico put on a convincing victory?
Recently with Mexico, the problem is that they can all play sub-par but still grind out a win due to an inspiring individuals’ performance. If this is the case, then who are those individuals in Mexico’s squad that can lead El Tricolor to Gold Cup glory?
The on-loan America man made his start today in the Mexico vs Martinique match and definitely asserted his argument to Chepo on why he should be a regular starter on the right back position. In truth, he was one of the most, if not the most, liveliest player for Mexico today. He was acting as an advanced winger for the most part, instead of playing defense on his side. He provided two sublime crosses, one resulting in a goal, but the other only to be squandered by Jimenez. It’s his willingness to go up and provide precise, fast crosses that makes Layún a candidate for one of the players who can make a positive impact on Mexico’s chances towards reaching the final. Despite his questionable defense today against Martinique, along with his foul leading to a penalty, Layún still can provide a remedy to Mexico’s defense and crossing. If Layún can perform like he did today during the rest of the Gold Cup, he can even make the big argument of playing for Mexico’s A squad. Lets hope he can.
This one seems like a no brainer, mostly because it is a no brainer. Marco Fabian, coming into the Gold Cup, has always been the player to watch. He’s leading Mexico with his goals in this tournament and thats why they need him — his goals. Simple as that. With Mexico not doing well in the goals department, Fabian can be the player to notch those vital goals. Not only can he score, but he also has great link up plays with his compatriots that often lead to goal scoring opportunities. And while Giovanni dos Santos is Mexico’s true number ten, Fabian will have to, in the meantime, fill in Gio’s role as playmaker and goal scorer for the remainder of this tournament.
Domestically, Jimenez with America, who is (was) paired with Chucho Benitez, plays as a great, potent striker. However, under Chepo, he still has not performed to his standards. It’s understandable due to Chepo’s structure of having him as a lone striker. Jimenez is accustomed to having a partner up top, as in America, to link up in the final third of the field. This can maybe explain his lack of goal scoring opportunities? Maybe Chepo could play with two strikers up top to help form a partnership? Marquez Lugo and Jimenez can make a great partnership, if given the chance. Still, with one goal scored in this Gold Cup, Jimenez can add more to his goal tally and, more importantly, help his team reach the final.
With Mexico now in the quarterfinals, it’s time to look forward. Sure, their recent performances have not gotten significantly better, but when under pressure, teams tend to play much more intense. With that being said, Chepo and his squad will definitely go into the quarterfinals with much needed confidence. Who knows, maybe this confidence can change Mexico’s results and, ultimately, their performances against harder opposition all for the better. Let’s sure hope so.