Mexico beat the United States 1-0 last night in the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, a biennial soccer tournament featuring men’s teams from North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
After a scoreless first half at Chicago’s Soldier Field, a goal from 29-year-old midfielder Jonathan dos Santos in the 73rd minute was all El Tri — as the Mexican team is known — needed to wrest back the title of regional champions from the United States.
The victory capped an unbeaten tournament for Mexico, who beat Haiti 1-0 in the semi-finals and overcame Costa Rica in a penalty shootout in the quarters after the two teams were locked at 1-1 at the conclusion of extra time.
Mexico’s success came despite the absence of some of the team’s strongest players from last year’s World Cup, such as Hirving Lozano, the 23-year-old PSV Eindhoven winger who is currently recovering from a knee injury.
Instead, a team featuring many members of the next generation of El Tri stars got the job done.
Uriel Antuna, a 21-year-old midfielder originally from Gómez Palacio, Durango, was particularly impressive, scoring four goals throughout the course of the 16-nation tournament.
“Young players are starting to show up, and they’re adjusting well. When there’s a title, you gain confidence,” said team manager Gerardo Martino in a post-match press conference.
“We’ll be better with those who haven’t been able to come to the team because of different reasons,” he added, singling out Lozano, who he described as “one of the three best players in the Dutch league.”
Martino, an Argentine native who was announced as Mexico’s head coach in January, said there is “no reason” why the side can’t improve but added that he was “really happy with how the team has started to function in the first six months” since he took on his new role.
Andrés Guardado, the team’s 32-year-old captain who last night doubled as its savior by heading away a well-targeted shot in the 51st minute just before it crossed the goal line, also expressed optimism about the future of the Mexican national team.
“Some guys didn’t come [because of] injuries and such, but that opened the door for other talents, for the future of this national team, who showed in this tournament that they’re on a really good path,” he said.
“As a Mexican and a veteran player, it makes you calm because you know you’re leaving the team in good hands and they definitely can achieve what . . . [the team] couldn’t in so many years.”
Source: Goal (en)