After celebrating their most lopsided win in Gold Cup history, Canada take a major step up in competition Wednesday night when facing Mexico at Broncos Stadium at Mile High in what marks both team’s second Group A game.
The nations have met four previous times in the Gold Cup, with Mexico winning three times and outscoring Canada, 14-3. Canada’s lone win was a 2-1 victory in the quarterfinals en route to their Gold Cup title in 2000.
The win wasn’t surprising, but who played a starring role for Mexico in a 7-0 victory over Cuba Saturday night at the Rose Bowl was. A day after joining the team as an injury substitution for defender Jorge Sanchez, LA Galaxy winger Uriel Antuna scored a hat trick in a dream debut for El Tri.
Antuna bookended the first-half scoring, netting his first in the second and securing his brace one minute from halftime. In between, Raul Jimenez and Diego Reyes scored seven minutes apart. Jimenez had his second in the 64th minute, Alexis Vega made it 6-0 10 minutes later and then Antuna capped a terrific performance with his third goal 10 minutes from full time.
“He took advantage of the opportunities he had tonight,” Tata Martino said in Spanish during his postgame news conference. “He was focused for 90 minutes, and he had an excellent attitude. He gave a very good showing.
It wasn’t 7-0, but Canada’s 4-0 opening victory over Martinique was their largest margin of victory in the Gold Cup and a positive first step to a critical tournament under coach John Herdman. Although there were some nervy moments in the back, Jonathan David helped calm any jitters with a brace 20 minutes apart. Junior Hoilett and Scott Arfield tacked on goals four minutes apart in the second half to secure a comfortable win.
“I think Mexico scores a minimum three goals every game. That’s been the trend,” Herdman said. “There’s a genuine reality check when you come up against a team that’s so prolific. And we have to give that some real attention.
El Tri kicked off its battle to regain the CONCACAF Gold Cup last Saturday night, and what a way to start the campaign. The Mexicans outplayed their Cuban counterparts in a overwhelmingly one-sided match.
21-year-old LA Galaxy talent Uriel Antuna kicked off the scoring with a right-footed shot inside the box after the ball rebounded from the post. Raul Jimenez announced himself at the Copa Oro with a goal at the 31st minute, and his goal again showed how well he does at holding off pressure from opposition players.
He received the ball and held off his mark to slot in with his right. It was a well-placed goal from arguably the biggest name for Mexico, offensively speaking.
Diego Reyes would go on to score and Antuna would score his second before the first half would come to an end. Antuna would go on to grab a hat trick in the second half, Jimenez would add a second to his tally and Chivas player Alexis Vega would finish off the Cuban side.
What a way to start! The result leaves manager Tata Martino with five wins out of five matches in charge of El Tri. However, they’ll be tested by a stronger side in Canada on Wednesday, June 19, in Denver, Colorado.