Mexico vs. Canada: 6 Things We Learned in the Gold Cup Showdown
Sunday was crazy. Mexico lost to Panama and Canada lost to Martinique. Both teams now had their backs against the wall. The loser of this match could probably start looking for tickets to the final, because that's the only way they would be able to go.
I also feel like I should issue a disclaimer for this match. I dislike the Mexican national team. It has nothing to do with their nationality, but everything to do with their play. As for Canada, this is the second time I've sat and watched an entire Canadian match on purpose. The last time was during the 2011 Gold Cup when I was photographing the match from the end line at Sporting Park.
What We Learned
No. 1: Benito Floro Has His Work Cut Out For Him
The state of the Canadian national team right now is not good. They're winless in 2013 and haven't scored in their last four matches. Interim coach Colin Miller is trying to get some younger players some experience, but the team didn't really have a chance in this tournament without two of their best players in Will Johnson and Dwayne De Rosario.
Floro takes over in August, and the next tournament Canada has to prepare for isn't until the 2015 Gold Cup. He has time, and that's probably what he'll need most.
No. 2: Mexico's Performance Was Good, But That's Not Saying Much
While watching the Fox Soccer broadcast, I heard analyst Cobi Jones say this was the next generation of players for the Mexican national team. If that's the case, I'm not that impressed. They had trouble putting away Canada, a team that Honduras destroyed 8-1 in October in a World Cup Qualifier.
That's not to say Canada didn't play well. They did, relatively speaking for them. They managed to absorb the numbers that Mexico was throwing forward by packing all of their players behind the ball in the defensive third.
However, if Mexico wants to have a chance to win this tournament, they have to improve on set pieces. Some of their corner kicks were simply atrocious.
No. 3: Raul Jimenez Can't Be Left That Wide Open
Mexico's first goal may have come on a set piece, but it's not that the corner kick was that good. It was that Canada's marking, or lack thereof, was that bad. There was no one within three to four yards of Jimenez when he put that diving header in the back of the Canadian net. Leave me that wide open and I might have a shot to score like that.
No. 4: Canada Needs to Get Better Service to Their Forwards
Marcus Haber did create a couple of good chances as the lone striker for Canada, but he seemed to be awfully lonely up top. When you're packing all 11 players behind the ball in the defensive third, your counterattack better get the ball to your forward fairly quickly, especially against a team like Mexico.
No. 5: Even When They're Struggling, Mexico Still Gets Calls
I'm not saying that Marco Fabian flopped to the ground to draw a penalty. What I am saying is that what little contact there may have been, he made an all-you-can-eat buffet out of it and handed the referee a plate. During the game, Fox Soccer had JP Dellacamera ask the match commissioner (I don't remember his name) if it was a penalty. He said he'd seen three or four replays and still couldn't see where the foul was.
After the match, Fox Soccer interviewed defender Nikolas Ledgerwood, who said that Canada was always playing a man down because of the referees they continued to get when they come to the Gold Cup. Now, I'm sure that was a little frustration coming out, as I thought the referee had a decent match, but that was one call I wish he hadn't made.
No. 6: Chepo de la Torre Is Safe, For Now
The win vs. Canada was only Mexico's third in 2013. They've drawn an amazing eight matches and lost two. The pressure on de la Torre is immense. The Mexican federation is not at all shy about pulling the trigger on a coaching change. They expect to be the best team in CONCACAF and do not take losses well at all.
Thoughts? Think I'm loony? Tell me what you think in the comment section below.
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