Mexico made 10 changes to the lineup that drew 0-0 with Jamaica on Thursday, with only Orbelin Pineda making a second consecutive start. Curaçao made five changes from their loss to El Salvador, and it was Curaçao who started the game off better.
The group stage of the 2017 Gold Cup closes out on Sunday with Mexico facing minnows Curaçao. Mexico tops the table with four points, while Curaçao is propping up Group C with no points – and no goals.
With Jamaica and El Salvador playing the first game of this double header, Mexico will know exactly what result they need to win the group from the start.
The group winner will face a third place team in the quarterfinals, while the runner-up will take on the Group A runner-up.
Mexico and Jamaica both took another step closer to the quarterfinals with a 0-0 draw in this Group C game. This rematch of the 2015 Gold Cup final was not nearly as exciting as the original, with neither team able to break the deadlock in Denver.
Rotation was again the name of the game for El Tri, with Moisés Muñoz, Jesús Molina, Erick Torres, and Orbelín Pineda all joining the starting XI. The best chance of the first half fell for “Cubo” Torres, whose header hit the post in the 23rd minute with goalkeeper Andre Blake beaten.
El Tri opened their 2017 Gold Cup campaign with a 3-1 victory against El Salvador, while the Reggae Boys also started off with a win as they beat minnows Curaçao 2-0.
These two are the favorites to advance out of Group C and both will be looking to collect another three points in this one.
El Salvador had the better of the run of play at the start, but a set piece gave Mexico the early lead. In the 8th minute, Hedgardo Marín scored his first goal for El Tri when he headed home a free kick from Elías Hernández at the back post.
The 1-0 lead lasted just two minutes, however, before Nelson Bonilla leveled the score with his low shot from inside the box.
Mexico – sans suspended coach Juan Carlos Osorio – will get their Gold Cup title defense underway this Sunday when they take on El Salvador.
Mexico, even with a rather inexperienced roster and a suspended coach, is still the Group C favorite, and anything less than a win here will be unacceptable for fans of El Tri.
El Salvador will look to get a surprise result in front of what is likely to be a largely partisan crowd in San Diego, California.
Reigning gold medalists Mexico saw their Olympic soccer campaign come to an abrupt, early halt with a 1-0 loss to South Korea. That result sees El Tri finish third in Group C and fail to advance to the knockout rounds. South Korea tops the group and is joined in the quarterfinals by Germany.
With the Germans crushing Fiji 10-0, Mexico needed to win this game to advance. They enjoyed more possession in the first half and kept the Koreans largely in their own defensive third; however, they were unable to capitalize on their chances as César Montes, Michael Pérez, Erick Torres, and Marco Bueno were all denied.
The final matches of Group C will be played concurrently on Wednesday afternoon. South Korea and Mexico both have four points, with the Koreans ahead on goal difference, followed by Germany with two and Fiji with none.
Mexico is guaranteed a spot in the quarterfinals with a victory against South Korea or a Germany loss or draw.
Other scenarios that would see Mexico advance are a draw and Germany failing to win by four or more goals; or a loss and a Germany loss or draw.
Mexico defeated Fiji 5-1 in the second match of Group C, but the scoreline belies the effort El Tri had to put into the match. The Fijians took the lead and held it for nearly 40 minutes before a póker by Erick Gutiérrez turned things around for the Mexican U-23s.
Fiji gave Mexico’s defense a scare early on with a headed chance, and then in the 10th minute captain Roy Krishna gave them the lead. Krishna beat his defender and goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera to a lofted ball at the edge of the box and he headed it into the empty net to give Fiji the shock 1-0 lead and their first goal of this Olympic tournament.
Mexico drew 2-2 with Germany on Thursday while Fiji was demolished 8-0 by South Korea. The Fijians will be facing another tough game here against the reigning gold medalists, who will be eager to snap up all three points.