Mexico are in a big hole in the CONCACAF Gold Cup after dropping their opening game against Panama. They put together one extremely pretty move at the end of the first half, but defended shakily throughout and failed to create chances as Panama earned a 2-1 victory.
Panama went ahead early, thanks to Raul Jimenez. The Mexican striker inexplicably tracked all the way back into his own penalty area when there were other defenders around and hacked down Alberto Quintero on the edge of the box. The referee pointed to the spot and Gabriel Torres buried the penalty to put Panama up.
It appeared that the two sides would head into the break tied until Mexico came up with a goal out of absolutely nowhere in the 45th minute. Israel Jimenez set it up with a brilliant chipped ball over the top of the defense and Marco Fabian made a great diagonal run to meet it. He controlled well, then finished with his second touch to give Mexico a momentum boost heading into the locker room.
Unfortunately for El Tri, that momentum didn't carry over at all. Mexico started the second half in the worst way possible, conceding a goal after just four minutes of play. Gabriel Gomez was the starter, getting on the end of a ball by Alberto Quintero after a run to the near post, stunning El Tri and giving his side a 2-1 lead.
While Mexico controlled possession for the rest of the game and had a number of half-chances and set piece opportunities, they never looked terribly threatening and Panama did very well in holding onto the win.
- Big time 'Fuera Chepo' chants at the end, as well as garbage thrown on the pitch. Fans hit Chepo with some garbage as he walked to the tunnel.
- In a massively confusing move, the FMF tweeted out an inaccurate team that featured three strikers. Javier Orozco did not start the match, as originally announced, and Alejandro Castro took his place instead. This made more sense. With him in the team, Mexico played a hybrid 4-3-1-2 / 3-4-1-2 formation to start the game with Castro as a libero. Seriously, a real libero.
- I'm not really sure what Raul Jimenez was doing in his own box when he conceded the penalty. It wasn't even after a corner. He had no business there. Awful.
- Holy heck, that goal was nice! Israel Jimenez's ball was brilliant and Marco Fabian's touch and finish was even better. Great stuff. Too bad the team couldn't do it a second time.
- Also, Jimenez and Fabian were the two worst players on the pitch, including Panamanians, before the goal. Fabian created next to nothing and complained the entire game. Jimenez got completely torched down his flank on multiple occasions. They were almost indescribably poor before the goal.
- The second goal was hilarious. Joel Huiqui totally lost his man on a diagonal run. Ridiculously bad defending. Huiqui was also the defender at fault when Cecilio Waterman hit the post in the 40th minute.
- Jorge Enrique was supposed to be the heartbeat of this team in the center and did nothing. He only made safe passes, and he often screwed those up. He made tons of turnovers and wasn't good defensively. For anyone hoping for him to be the future of the center of the Mexico midfield, it was a disheartening performance.
- Having said that, everyone sucked. We can't put this on any one, two or three players. No one was above average. Literally the entire team was poor. Is that on the players or Chepo? It's a tough call. Of course the players have to perform in the end, regardless of tactics or what the manager says to them, but it's telling that not a single player had a good game, especially when this team and the main senior team both have a history of underperforming.
Mexico: Jonathan Orozco, Israel Jiménez, Joel Huiqui, Efrain Velarde (off 74), Jair Pereira (off 45), Adrián Aldrete, Jorge Enriquez, Alejandro Castro (off 45), Raúl Jiménez, Marco Fabián, Rafael Márquez Lugo
Carlos Peña (on 45), Juan Carlos Valenzuela (on 45), Isaac Brizuela (on 74).
Panama: Jaime Penedo, Leonel Parrish, Carlos Rodríguez, Roman Torres, Roberto Chen, Gabriel Gómez (off 84), Anibal Sanchez, Alberto Quintero, Anibal Godoy, Gabriel Torres (off 87), Cecilio Waterman (off 70)
Rolando Blackburn (on 70), Juan Perez (on 84), Harold Cummings (on 87)