SEATTLE – The Mexican Gold Cup squad is spearheaded by one Club America and one Chivas Guadalajara striker. The clubs may forge Mexico's most bitter rivalry, but the players show affection for each other.
Raul Jimenez, fresh off a Liga MX triumph with America, scored his first goal for El Tri in a 2-0 win over Canada. His diving header finished off a flick from Chivas midfielder Jorge Enriquez to kick off the scoring. Chivas veteran Rafael Marquez Lugo took an almost paternal pride in the goal.
“He's very young, he's 22 years,” Marquez Lugo said. “He has a great future. I hope that he can go to Europe. I try to talk a lot with him. I have a lot of experience; he's younger. He has a lot of qualities. I hope he can continue scoring for us.”
Marquez Lugo then threaded a ball through the Canuck central defenders for Marco Fabian that produced a soft penalty and put Mexico on its way to three points.
The result gave El Tri some breathing room after a loss to Panama in the opening matchday.
“We're relieved because of the way that we played more than the result. You saw another face of Mexico,” the 31-year-old said. “The Mexico that played against Panama and the Mexico that played tonight, I think we've seen another Mexico – more intense, better on the ball, more creative. I think we saw the Mexico that everyone wants to see in this tournament.”
Jose Manuel 'Chepo' de la Torre agreed that his side improved dramatically, particularly its compactness, but would like to see more from precision his forward crops.
“Yes, we improved on many things but were still missing a few others,” Chepo said through a translator. “We can be more [incisive] in the attack and not only control the possession. We need to create more concrete opportunities and actually finish those opportunities as well.”
Up next for Mexico is the final group stage match, against Martinique. Both teams have three points, so a win would put either into the quarterfinals. Teams can technically advance with three points as one of the two best third-placed teams, but it's far from a certainty.
“I think Martinique – with all due respect for Panama and Canada – is going to be worse than these ones,” Marquez Lugo said. “Because they're basing also this final round of playing on this game. They have to win to access the final round. So I think it's going to be very tough, but if we play the way that we did tonight we have a lot of chances.”
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