In the midst of an unforgettable 2013, Mexico got a much-needed 2-0 win against Canada during Group A play in the Gold Cup on Thursday.
With the win, Mexico moves into a tie with Martinique for second place in the group with three points, while the Canadians are now in serious trouble after grabbing zero points through two contests.
Action from CenturyLink Field in Seattle was fast from the start. Although Mexico controlled the majority of the possession, it once again struggled to do much in the final third.
Canada put together a few nice counter-attacks, but much like Mexico it couldn't convert any encouraging opportunities into goals.
ESPN's Jason Davis put together a pretty accurate description of the fast-yet-sloppy early pace:
This is like if someone put down a soccer ball in the middle of a swarm of bees fighting a swarm of wasps.— Jason Davis (@davisjsn) July 12, 2013
But when it appeared as though we were headed into the locker room with the score appropriately locked at 0-0 between the struggling squads, Raul Jimenez put El Tri in front.
In the 42nd minute, Jorge Enriquez flicked a low corner from Luis Montes towards the back post, where Jimenez sent in a rocket header past the bunkered-down Canadian defense:
ESPN and Goal.com's Tom Marshall noted the significance for the burgeoning 22-year-old:
Raul Jimenez's first ever goal for the full national team.— Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup) July 12, 2013
Mexico would double its lead in the 55th minute on an undeserving penalty following a tremendous buildup. Stringing together the right passes, Montes back-heeled it to Rafael Marquez Lugo, who split the Canadian central defenders with a wonderfully accurate ball to Marco Fabian.
It appeared at first that the Guadalajara midfielder was tripped, but on second glance, he went down without much contact.
Still, he received the call and proceeded to fire it in from the spot to make it 2-0:
Both teams appeared content to leave it at that, although Canada's Marcel De Jong provided a near highlight in the 90th minute when he sent a free kick screaming off the crossbar.
Alas, Canada stayed goalless for the tournament, and Mexico left Seattle with a 2-0 victory that just might have saved Jose Manuel "Chepo" de la Torre's job.
|Jonathan Orozco||B+||Milan Borjan||C|
|Miguel Layun||B||Nik Ledgerwood||D+|
|Juan Carlos Valenzuela||B-||David Edgar||C-|
|Joel Huiqui||B-||Doneil Henry||C-|
|Adrian Aldrete||B+||Marcel De Jong||B-|
|Marco Fabian ('77)||A-||Julian De Guzman||B|
|Efrain Velarde||B||Samuel Piette||C+|
|Jorge Enriquez ('54)||B+||Kyle Bekker ('83)||C+|
|Luis Montes Jimenez||A-||Jonathan Osorio||C+|
|Rafael Marquez Lugo ('73)||B-||Issey Nakajima-Farran ('62)||C-|
|Raul Jimenez||A-||Marcus Haber ('46)||C|
|Alejandro Castro ('54)||B||Tosaint Ricketts ('46)||C|
|Miguel Ponce ('73)||B||Kyle Porter ('62)||C|
|Javier Orozco ('77)||B+||Keven Aleman ('83)||INC|
Jorge Enriquez, Mexico: B+
It's a shame that Enriquez was forced to leave early with an injury because he was making a very solid impact for El Tri.
In the first half, Chaton looked like Mexico's most dynamic player, making the right passes in the midfield and eventually serving up the night's first assist with a superb flick onward.
Who was man of the match?
Luis Montes Jimenez, Mexico: A-
All around, it was a rock-solid performance from the Chivas forward. He may not have actually recorded a goal or assist, but he was involved in both goals and made a number of other slick passes in the final third that put his teammates in good positions to finish.
He paired up really well with Marco Fabian and Raul Jimenez, giving El Tri exactly what they need up front as they progress through this tournament.
With six points and a remaining match against point-less Canada, Panama looks to have Group A all but locked up.
The final secured spot out of the group will come down to Sunday's matchup between Martinique and Mexico. The winner will obviously advance, but if it's a draw, Mexico (+1) will go through on goal differential.
Should Mexico lose, however, it's worth noting El Tri can still advance to the quarterfinals, as the top two third-placed teams also move forward to the knockout stage.