Mexico was able to pull out a hard-fought 3-1 victory over Martinique to secure its place in the 2013 Gold Cup quarterfinals.
While the final score might appear to largely favor Mexico, the game should've been much more lopsided. The lack of dominance from Mexico in its final Group A match gives it little momentum to build on.
Martinique is currently the No. 104-ranked team by the World Football Elo. Mexico currently ranks No. 19 in the Elo and No. 20 by FIFA.
Marco Fabian and Luis Montes were able to give Mexico two goals before halftime, but the team did surrender a penalty to Martinique, allowing Kevin Marius Parsemain to convert.
Mexico did hold Martinique to just four shots on goal, but it could have had more goals on its 13 shots. The victory was certainly hard-earned, but El Tri is set to face stronger competition in the next round.
Jose Manuel de la Torre has to be wondering just what to make of his team after group play. Panama defeated Mexico 2-0 in both teams' first Gold Cup fixture.
Following that loss, El Tri went undefeated against Canada and Martinique. That being said, Canada and Martinique finished with a combined one victory in the tournament between themselves.
Panama has also qualified for the quarterfinals along with the United States. Both teams have enjoyed early success so far in the tournament. Panama allowed just one goal through group play while the U.S. scored six of its own.
Mexico is certainly capable of winning this year's Gold Cup. The team is only two years removed from its last title in this tournament, after all.
What could have been a huge confidence-boosting match for Mexico against Martinique however, resulted in a nerve-racking close call. While much can be learned from close calls, El Tri could've used a rather easy day at the office on July 14.
With a few days to rest and plan for the next round, expect de la Torre to study some game film in hopes of getting more out of his team.
Mexico is still one of the favorites to win this tournament. Still, it needs to play to its full potential starting right out of the gates in its quarterfinal match.