Luis Rodriguez, Mexico Beat Ecuador 3-2 in Final Friendly Before Gold Cup

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJune 10, 2019

ARLINGTON, TX - JUNE 09: Mexico celebrates a second goal during the match against Ecuador at AT&T Stadium on June 9, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images)
Omar Vega/Getty Images

Mexico defeated Ecuador 3-2 in an international friendly Sunday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

The result adds to what is now a four-match winning streak for El Tri. Luis Rodriguez scored the decisive goal in the 77th minute, and Jonathan dos Santos and Luis Montes also found the back of the net in the victory.

Rodriguez struck a right-footed volley that narrowly beat Maximo Banguera at the near post.

Mexico coach Tata Martino inherited a tough situation when he replaced Juan Carlos Osorio in January. El Tri advanced out of the group at the 2018 World Cup but then lost convincingly to Brazil. Then came friendly defeats to Uruguay, the United States, Chile and Argentina.

Although Mexico remains a work in progress with Martino on the job for only six months, he's building the squad in his image. According to ESPN FC, El Tri finished the victory over Ecuador with 60 percent of possession and six shots on target.

Dos Santos drew first blood in the 28th minute with a curling effort that eluded Banguera from outside the 18-yard box.

Mexico's one-goal lead held for the remainder of the first half but didn't last long into the second before Angel Mena got some help from Cesar Montes.

Montes was part of Mexico's wall defending the free kick, and he got a head on Mena's delivery, which wrong-footed Guillermo Ochoa in goal.

Luis Montes came to the rescue in the 63rd minute with a free kick of his own. Despite being just on the edge of the box, the Leon midfielder somehow curled his kick around the wall and into the near post.

Yet again, though, a set piece harmed Mexico.

Mena's corner found Ayrton Preciado, who headed home from close range.

National team coaches always face a delicate balance in the buildup to major tournaments. They want to make sure their players are properly prepared and have built a level of cohesion on the pitch. At the same time, the last thing a team needs is to see a potential starter go down with an injury.

That's exactly what happened to Mexico in the first half when Hector Moreno made way for Carlos Salcedo. Moreno exited under his own power, so perhaps his injury is only minor.

But with Hector Herrera bowing out of the Gold Cup for health reasons and Hirving Lozano out as well with an MCL injury, questions over Moreno's status overshadowed Sunday's friendly to some extent.

         

What's Next?

Sunday's friendly was the final step in pre-tournament preparations for both sides. Mexico opens the 2019 Gold Cup on Saturday against Cuba. Ecuador will play Uruguay on June 16 in its first match of the 2019 Copa America.

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