Five Things to Know About Mexico

Watch USA-Mexico in the Concacaf Nations League Semifinal on Thursday, June 15 at 10 pm ET on Paramount+, Univision
By: Michael Lewis

The U.S. Men’s National Team takes on Mexico in the Concacaf Nations League semifinals at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nev. on Thursday, June 15 at 10 p.m. ET (Paramount+, Univision).

The reigning champion USMNT will look to extend their unbeaten streak against El Tri to a record-tying six games, having last lost to their rivals in 2019.

Here are five things to know about Wednesday’s opponent.


Historically, Mexico has been one of the strongest teams in the region, qualifying for the past eight FIFA World Cups and 17 overall. El Trí participated in the first World Cup in Uruguay in 1930, in which there was no qualifying. El Tri’s best World Cup showings came when they hosted the tournament, advancing to the quarterfinals in both 1970 and 1986.

Mexico has also captured the Concacaf Gold Cup a record eight times (1993, 1996, 1998 2003, 2009, 2011, 2015, 2019).

They also have made seven appearances in the FIFA Confederations Cup, beginning in 1995, and winning the championship in 1999.

In 2012, Mexico made history, becoming the first Concacaf country win an Olympic gold medal, at the London Summer Games, besting Brazil in the final at Wembley Stadium.


The first time these two rivals met, the USMNT prevailed in a one-match, winner-takes-all qualifier in Rome, Italy only days prior to the start of the 1934 World Cup. Aldo “Buff” Donelli scored four times for the USA en route to a 4-2 win. In the first qualifying tournament for Brazil 1950, Mexico won both games in Mexico City, 6-0 and 6-2. That started a 31-year run in Mexico WCQ dominance over the USA in which their rivals to the south forged a 12-0-3 record.

Mexico leads the all-time series, 36-22-17. However the USMNT enter the match with a four-game unbeaten streak (3-0-1) against their archrivals, having last tasting defeat to Mexico in a 3-0 result in East Rutherford, N.J. on Sept. 6, 2019.

They started their streak with a 3-2 extra time win in the 2021 Concacaf Nations League final at Empower Field at Mile High in Denver, Colo. on June 6, 2021, in a match that was decided by a pair of penalty kicks. Christian Pulisic converted his spot kick in the 110th minute. Goalkeeper Ethan Horvath, who came off the bench in the second half to replace the injured Zack Steffen, denied Andres Guardado's penalty kick four minutes into stoppage time in the second extra time.

They continued it with a 1-0 extra time triumph in the Concacaf Gold Cup final in Las Vegas on Aug. 1, 2021. Defender Miles Robinson headed home Kellyn Acosta's free kick from seven yards in the 117th minute at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

They continued their dos a cero mastery over the Mexico in Ohio with a 2-0 win in a FIFA 2022 World Cup qualifier at TQL Stadium in Cincinnati on Nov. 12, 2021. Tim Weah set up second-half substitute Christian Pulisic for the winning goal in the 74th minute and Weston McKennie added an insurance tally in the 85th minute to seal the fifth 2-0 WCQ result in the state (2001, 2005, 2009, 2013, 2021).

Most recently the USMNT frustrated El Tri at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City in another WCQ match via a scoreless draw on March 24, 2022 – an important result that pushed the team to the brink of World Cup qualification.

On April 19, the archrivals battled to a 1-1 draw before 55,730 spectators in the inaugural Continental Clasico at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. After El Tri took the lead on Uriel Antuna's 55th-minute goal before Jesus Ferreira countered with the equalizer in the 81st minute.


El Tri has played five times in 2023, going 2-0-3 thus far.

Opening the calendar year with two Concacaf Nations League matches, they blanked host Suriname 2-0 in Paramaribo on March 23 with Johan Vasquez tallying in the 64th minute and Suriname’s Damil Dankerlui contributing an own goal in the 82nd minute at Frank Essed Stadion.

Mexico then registered a 2-2 tie with Jamaica at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City on March 26. Orbelín Pineda erased a Bobby Decordova-Reid goal in the 17th minute. After an Edson Alvarez own goal gave the Reggae Boyz a 2-1 lead in the 33rd minute, Hirivng Lozano converted a penalty kick two minutes into first-half stoppage time, helping Mexico clinch the group and setting up Thursday night’s CNL semifinal showdown with the USMNT. 

On April 19, USMNT forward Jesús Ferreira connected for the equalizer in the 81st minute to boost the USA into a 1-1 draw with Mexico before a crowd of 55,730 in the inaugural Continental Clasico at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. on April 19. El Tri had taken the lead on Uriel Antuna's 55th-minute goal.

After the Continental Clasico, Mexico have played a pair of CNL matches. In the first encounter, El Tri tallied early and late in a 2-0 win over Guatemala in Mazatlan, Mexico on June 7. Raul Jimenez converted a 14th-minute penalty kick and Roberto de la Rosa added an insurance goal eight minutes after coming on, in the 80th minute.

On Saturday, June 10, a pair of second-half substitutes, Kevin Alvarez and Henry Martin, rescued El Tri with a stoppage-time goal to earn a 2-2 draw with Cameroon in a friendly at Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego. Alvarez put away a Martin pass four minutes into injury time.

Mexico twice battled back from deficits. Bryan Mbeumo had given Cameroon a 1-0 lead in the 37th minute, but Israel Reyes knotted it up at 1-1 two minutes into first-half added time. Karl Toko Ekambi lifted Cameroon to a 2-1 advantage in the 61st minute before Alvarez's 11th-hour heroics.


Diego Cocca was named Mexican manager on Feb. 10, 2023, a day after he stepped down as Tigres UANL boss. He replaced Tata Martino.

Born on Feb. 11, 1972, Cocca forged a long career as a right back in his native Argentina.

He started as an 18-year-old with River Plate in 1990, before performing for River Plate, Deportivo Espanol, Ferro Carril Oeste, Lleida, Argentinos and Banfield in Argentina and Atlas, Verzcruz and Queretaro in Mexico. Cocca also was a member of the squad that competed at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in 1991.

After retiring in 2006, a year later Cocca embarked on a long coaching career in three countries that included clubs in his native Argentina (C.A.I., Godoy Cruz, Gimnasia LP, Huracán, Defensa y Justicia, Racing Club and Rosario Central), Colombia (Millonarios), and Mexico (Santos Laguna, Tijuana, Atlas and Tigres UANL). He guided Atlas to the Apertura 2021 title, its first championship since 1951 before winning the 2022 Clausura campaign.


Head coach Diego Cocca chose a 23-man roster that was dominated by 14 players who compete domestically in Liga MX.

Champion Monterrey and America were represented with three players apiece. Cruz Azul and Pachuca had two players each. Santos Laguna, Tigres UANL, Atlas and Guadalajara contributed one player apiece. Nine other players are based outside of Mexico, plying their trade in the Netherlands (3), Italy (2), Spain (2), Belgium (1), Greece (1).

El Tri has two players over the age of 30 on the roster. That includes 37-year-old goalkeeper Guillermo (Memo) Ochoa (135 appearances), a member of five FIFA World Cup squads, and 30-year-old forward Henry Martin. Jesus Gallardo, who can play as a defender or on the wing, is the most capped field player (84).

Uriel Antuna, a 25-year-old forward who performs for Cruz Azul, leads all players with 10 goals in 43 matches, followed by midfielder Orbelin Pineda and Martin, who have tallied seven in 52 and 31 games, respectively. 


GOALKEEPERS (3): Carlos Acevedo (Santos Laguna; 6/0), Angel Malagon (America; 2/0), Guillermo Ochoa (Salernitana/ITA; 135/0)

DEFENDERS (8): Julian Araujo (FC Barcelona/ESP; 6/0), Gerardo Arteaga (KRC Genk/BEL; 18/1), Jesus Gallardo (Monterrey; 84/1), Victor Guzman (Monterrey; 2/0), Cesar Montes (Espanyol/ESP; 34/1), Israel Reyes (America; 7/2), Jorge Sanchez (Ajax/NED; 30/1), Johan Vasquez (Cremonese/ITA; 8/1)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Edson Alvarez (Ajax/NED; 61/3), Luis Chavez (Pachuca; 16/1), Sebastian Cordova (Tigres; 14/3), Orbelin Pineda (AEK Athens/GRE; 52/7), Luis Romo (Monterrey; 29/1), Carlos Rodríguez (Cruz Azul; 42/0)

FORWARDS (6): Uriel Antuna (Cruz Azul; 43/10), Santiago Gimenez (Feyenoord/NED; 10/2), Ozziel Herrera (Atlas; 3/0), Henry Martin (America; 31/7), Erick Sanchez (Pachuca; 12/1), Alexis Vega (Guadalajara; 26/6)