Five Things to Know About MexicoPresented by BioSteel
For the seventh time in tournament history, the U.S. Men’s National Team will face Mexico in the Concacaf Gold Cup Final on Sunday at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas (9 p.m. ET on FS1, Univision, TUDN).
Coming just 38 days after the USMNT’s 3-2 extra time victory against El Trí in the Concacaf Nations League Final on June 6 in Denver, Gregg Berhalter’s young side will now go for its second trophy of the summer and seventh in program history against a Mexico team seeking its ninth and a little revenge for last month’s unforgettable showdown.
Here are Five Things to Know about El Trí:
Historically, Mexico has been one of the strongest teams in the region, qualifying for the past seven FIFA World Cups. El Trí also participated in the FIFA Confederations Cup on seven occasions (1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2005, 2013 and 2017) and won the 1999 edition of the tournament, which it also hosted.
It has also won the Concacaf Gold Cup a record eight times (the U.S. has six confederation titles), with the last victory coming in 2019, following a 1-0 win against the USMNT in the final.
The Federación Mexicana de Fútbol unveiled Gerardo “Tata” Martino as its newest head coach on Jan. 7, 2019, replacing interim manager Ricardo “Tuca” Ferreti. Since taking over Mexico, Martino has led El Trí to a 27-3-5 record, which includes guiding the team to the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup title, last month’s Nations League Final and Sunday’s Gold Cup decider.
Martino, 58, has been largely successful throughout his coaching career which includes stops at the helm of the Paraguay and Argentina national teams on the international stage as well as Newell’s Old Boys in his native Argentina and Barcelona at the club level. Martino has guided his teams to second place finishes in many of the sport’s most prestigious competitions, including the Copa Libertadores and La Liga at club level and the Copa America and World Cup on the international stage.
Martino’s latest stint before joining Mexico ended in success as he guided Atlanta United FC to the 2018 MLS Cup title in the team’s second season of existence. The Argentine managed current U.S. squad players George Bello, Brad Guzan and Miles Robinson for two seasons in Atlanta.
GOLD CUP PATH
After losing to the USMNT last month, Mexico started an eight-game unbeaten streak (6-0-2), while outscoring its opposition, 16-1. El Trí are unbeaten in five Gold Cup matches (4-0-1) during that span, conceding only once as goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera has recorded four clean sheets.
They opened Group A play with a scoreless draw with Trinidad & Tobago on July 10, then blanked Guatemala, 3-0 as Rogelio Funes Mori bagged a brace and Oberlin Pineda added a single tally on July 14. The team closed out the group with a 1-0 win against El Salvador as Luis Rodríguez scored the lone goal in the 26th minute on July 18.
Mexico then cruised past Honduras in the quarterfinals, 3-0, scoring all its goals during a 12-minute span in the first half. Funes Mori, Jonathan dos Santos and Pineda did the damage on July 24.
In an epic encounter with Canada, Mexico secured a hard earned 2-1 semifinal victory on July 29. Pineda's penalty kick two minutes into first-half stoppage time lifted El Tri into a 1-0 lead before Canada's Tajon Buchanan equalized in the 57th minute. Eight minutes into second-half injury time, veteran midfielder Hector Herrera settled matters with his ninth international goal in 87th appearances, off a Rodolfo Pizarro cross.
USMNT HISTORY VS. MEXICO
The archrivals first met in the semifinals of the inaugural 1991 Gold Cup, with John Doyle and Peter Vermes scoring to lift the USMNT to a 2-0 win. Just the third victory against Mexico in team history, the result propelled the USMNT on towards claiming the first-ever Gold Cup, defeating Honduras in penalty kicks two days later.
The six other meetings all occurred in finals, where Mexico holds a distinct 5-1-0 advantage. El Trí defeated the USA 4-0 in 1993 at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, before a narrow 1-0 victory in 1998 at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The USA claimed one of its sweetest victories against Mexico at Chicago’s Soldier Field in 2007, the Red, White and Blue overcoming a 1-0 deficit before Landon Donovan’s penalty kick and Benny Feilhaber’s iconic volley from distance led to a 2-1 win and the team’s first major success under then-head coach Bob Bradley.
Mexico ran off wins in the next three games, overpowering an inexperienced U.S. team 5-0 in 2009 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford N.J., before overcoming a two-goal deficit to earn a 4-2 win in the 2011 final at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. – that second match is a true point of pride for any El Trí supporter.
Sunday’s game is a rematch of last month’s Nations League Final in Denver, but also the 2019 Gold Cup Final. Meeting again in Chicago, the USMNT came close on a number of occasions early on only to see Mexico claim a 1-0 victory thanks to Jonathan dos Santos’ deflected effort in the 73rd minute.
As for the teams' overall history:
The USMNT played its first game against Mexico in 1934, winning 4-2 in Rome, Italy, in a one-off qualifying match for the 1934 FIFA World Cup. The U.S. didn’t win another game against Mexico until 1980, when two goals from Steve Moyers resulted in a 2-1 victory on Nov. 23 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
While Mexico had historically dominated the series, competition between the teams has grown into a proper rivalry since 2000 during which time the U.S. has held the edge, amassing a record of 15-9-6 against its neighbors to the south. The most important meeting in the modern era came at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan in the Round of 16. Goals from Brian McBride and Landon Donovan knocked Mexico out of the World Cup following a 2-0 shutout at Jeonju Stadium in Jeonju, South Korea.
Mexico leads the all-time series, 36-20-15.
While only four U.S. players carried over from last month’s Nations League roster, Mexico named 14 from the team that was in Denver last month.
Fourteen players also perform in LIGA MX. Defenders Hector Moreno and Jesus Gallardo and forward Rogelio Funes Mori play for Monterrey. Goalkeeper Rodolfo Cola and defender Osvaldo Rodriguez perform for Leon.
The Mexicans have a combination of veterans and youngsters on the squad, with team captain and defender Hector Moreno (116 caps) the oldest field player at 33, and midfielder Efrain Alvarez (four international matches) the youngest at 19.
Goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera, who forged his reputation as a superlative shot-stopper with Toluca for a decade before moving to UNAM, has backstopped El Trí with four clean sheets during the tournament. The 38-year-old saw his shutout streak end at 327 minutes after Canada’s Tajon Buchanan put one past him during the semifinal.
Midfielder Jonathan dos Santos (pictured above) started Thursday's win over Canada shortly after learning the passing of his father, Zizinho, a former Mexican professional midfielder in the 1980s. Dos Santos played the opening 61 minutes.
Dos Santos, the younger brother of one-time Mexico standout Giovanni dos Santos, and Efrain Alvarez are teammates with USMNT midfielder Sebastian Lletget on the LA Galaxy. The same goes for forward Alan Pulido and USMNT midfielder Gianluca Busiowithn Sporting Kansas City.
Oberlin Pineda, a midfielder, who entered the competition with only two international goals, and Funes Mori, who had only one, lead El Tri with three Gold Cup goals apiece.