Mexico finally has reasons to smile—at least in sports.
In the second game of the José Manuel de la Torre’s era, El Tri defeated Paraguay 3-1 at Oakland, California.
Javier "Chicharito" Hernández (7th, 34th) and Andrés Guardado (28th) secured the victory for Mexico in the first half, while Cristian Riveros (86th) made the score more respectable for Paraguay in the last minutes of the game.
This was the first time De la Torre had an entire week to work with the full squad, including the European based players, and that was notorious on the field.
Mexico had a very good first half, especially from the right side, where returning veteran Ricardo Osorio, Pablo Barrera and Antonio Naelson "Sinha" connected very well to create goal chances.
All Mexico’s goals generated from that side, Osorio and Barrera assisted Chicharito Hernández and Márquez crossed for Guardado in the 2-0.
Paraguay made adjustments during the break, and El Tri settled with the 3-0, so the second half wasn’t very memorable for the Mexican side.
Near the end, Francisco Javier "Maza" Rodríguez and debuting keeper Alfredo Talavera fall asleep in a cross by Hernán Pérez, and Cristian Riveros took advantage of that distraction to put the Guaraní side in the scoreboard.
Agudelo rescues USA
Meanwhile, at New Jersey, United States recovered from a disastrous first half to rescue a 1-1 draw against Argentina, Lionel Messi included.
Unlike their neighbors from the south, the U.S. side looked lost in the first 45 minutes of their match.
While Mexico’s No. 1 priority was always getting the ball to "Chicharito," Bob Bradley’s men never managed to connect with Landon Donovan in the first half, allowing Argentina to establish a clear dominance.
La Albiceleste should have been winning by two or three at halftime, but they need to wait until 42nd minute to finally taking the lead thanks to Esteban Cambiasso.
American coach Bob Bradley made a gutsy call by sending youngsters Juan Agudelo and Timothy Chandler to the pitch for the second half, but it turned to be a good one.
Chandler had a very good debut with his National Squad in the right back spot, while Agudelo scored his second goal in three matches with the Red, White and Blue squad.
Argentine keeper Mariano Andújar made a terrible mistake that allowed Agudelo to equalize in a free kick by Landon Donovan at 59th.
The South American side pushed to regain the advantage in the score, but the U.S. defense played much better than in the second half to preserve the tie.
Quick thoughts on route to the Gold Cup
Since the end of the World Cup, the Mexican National Team had been news material more for the indiscipline scandals and critics to the Federation than for what the squad was able to do in the field.
Now, after beating a solid South American side, Mexico can smile and prepare for the Gold Cup with a much better mood surrounding the team.
United States struggled a lot, but they deserve praise for their brave reaction against a stronger opponent.
Both teams played in front of sellouts, with a great ambiance in the crowds. For Mexico, that’s the norm, but the American fanbase is definitely growing.
As usual, Mexico and USA will be favorites to meet in the Final of the Gold Cup. Right now, El Tri looks a bit stronger thanks to their Golden Generation, but it definitely won’t be a one-sided match like their B-squads clash of two years ago.
Follow me on Twitter: @luisrha