Ordinarily, a Gold Cup match against a national selection El Tri has beaten by an average of 3.2 goals in every match since 2009 would not carry a whole lot of significance.
But with Juan Carlos Osorio’s six match ban, and the Gold Cup selection not exactly playing with a whole lot of viveza, fluidity, or organization in their preparatory matches, El Tri‘s opening match against El Salvador in San Diego all the sudden does not seem like an automatic three points.
La Selecta present not only a physical challenge to El Tri, but also a psychological challenge with their willingness to revert to aggressive tackles and challenges on the ball, and a brave, individual approach to their attacking play.
If the side led by Luis Pompillo Paez cannot shut out the individual fires and force La Selecta to be more submissive, it could be a long day for Mexico’s defenders like Jair Pereira, Cesar Montes, and Luis Reyes, as well as the goalkeeper Mexico is likely to bring out for the match.
To make La Selecta the kind of submissive, disorganized team that El Tri has faced often since 2009, players like Jesus Dueñas, Orbelin Pineda, and Martin Barragán will have to make use of their individual skill and maliciousness and do so especially when presented with 1-vs-1 and 1-vs-2 situations.
Whether that bit of incisiveness comes on the wings or through the interior of the park will depend on how La Selecta will lineup. The biggest threats La Selecta pose will be in their strike corps with Turkey-based striker Nelson Bonilla and the USA-raised trio of Pablo Punyed, Arturo Alvarez, and Dustin Corea expected to direct and enforce the team’s point of attack.
The match kicks off at Qualcomm Stadium at 9:00 PM Eastern DST (6:00 PM Pacific) and can be seen on Fox Sports 1, Univision, and Univision Deportes Network.