Mexico and El Salvador face a do or die game on Monday in the Central American and Caribbean Games. Both teams come from an opening game loss and will need a victory for a chance to make it to the Semifinals. Mexico had a bad debut and lost to Venezuela by 2-1. Meanwhile, El Salvador lost to Haiti by the score of 1-0. Mexico and El Salvador will now need to go for a victory as a loss would surely eliminate the losing team.
Mexico came into the tournament heavily favored, with many of the players coming from a second place finish in the Toulon Tournament, including highly regarded talent Diego Lainez. Still, a lot of people underrated Venezuela, who had a couple of players from the U-20 World Cup where they finished in 2nd place. They also had 3 overage players, including ex Wolfsuburg’s Yohandry Orozco.
Mexico went in without Lainez in the starting lineup and took a 1-0 lead to halftime with a penalty kick goal from Toulon’s Golden Boot Eduardo Aguirre. But in the second half, Orozco came back to tie the game for Venezuela and then Antonio Ramirez won it. The loss also meant that Venezuela’s Head Coach, Rafael Dudamel, was once again triumphant over Marco Antonio Chima Ruiz, like he did in the group stages of the U-20 World Cup last year. The loss severely hampers Mexico’s opportunity, which not only means that they must win to maintain chances but that if they make it into the semifinals, they will probably face hosts Colombia.
On the other end, El Salvador lost to Haiti by a 1-0 score. Both teams are considered the weakest teams in the group and the loss by El Salvador means that they are facing elimination. A loss against Mexico means that El Salvador would be eliminated regardless of the result of the Haiti-Venezuela game. El Salvador might need to open up, which can spell disaster against a superior Mexican team.
Still, it’s a complicated situation for both. Mexico will have the pressure against an El Salvador team that isn’t expected to medal. Even worse would be for Coach Marco Antonio Ruiz, of which some people in Mexico have big doubts about his potential. That said, Mexico should be favored on Monday, and depending on the result, can have things to look forward for a clash against Haiti. The pressure is on now and things in the Semifinals look even more complicated after Saturday’s results.