Croatia emerged victorious from Los Angeles as the Europeans inflicted Juan Carlos Osorio only his second defeat in front of the Mexico national team with a 2-1 win on Saturday. The game marked the first of 17 games El Tri will play in the next two months, with World Cup qualifying, Confederations Cup, and Gold Cup all in the agenda for Osorio’s men.
The first half saw Mexico play without rhythm, energy, or clear-cut opportunities, surprising given how they were facing practically a third-string Croatian side.
It took 36 minutes for the Europeans to open the scoring when Duje Cop appeared unmarked to fire into an empty net.
Croatia’s goal led to things to unravel on the field, and Croatia quickly grabbed a second when a Diego Reyes howler led to Fran Tudor scoring the 2-0.
With very little to take joy from in the first period, Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio was forced into making a trio of halftime subsitutions, with Andres Guardado, Jonathan dos Santos, and Nestor Araujo all coming on.
Mexico immediately saw improvement, but in keeping with an underwhelming evening, El Tri were unable to create much offensively.
In the 66th minute, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez was introduced for Oribe Peralta as Osorio urged his players to go forward in search of the goal.
El Tri received a small boost in the 77th minute when Mile Skoric was sent off for a double yellow, leaving Croatia down to ten men.
Mexico capitalized on their man advantage ten minutes later when an Andres Guardado free-kick was headed in by Chicharito, who with the goal become Mexico’s all-time leading goalscorer with 47 goals and surpassing Jared Borgetti.
The goal made for an exciting finale, with Croatia goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic denying Hector Moreno from point-blank range.
Despite Mexico’s energetic push for an equalizer, Croatia held on to earn a surprising victory.
Mexico next take the field on Thursday when they take on the Republic of Ireland.