Mexico will try to finish third in the Toulon Tournament for the first time since 1997 as they face Ireland for the second time in the competition. Mexico are coming from their best performance of the competition, but do so with the enormous disappointment of having taken the lead twice, only for them to finish tied and once again losing on penalties.
For this match, Mexico will need to improve from their previous Group Stage meeting with Ireland, in which they tied 0-0 but at times seemed to be the lesser team. With the game being a third place match, it remains to be seen if coach Jaime Lozano finally makes a big rotation move as he has played with mostly the same starting lineup for all four games.
Mexico’s tournament has been satisfactory at best. Defensively, Mexico had performed well with no goals allowed up until the semifinal but offensively they had produce few opportunities and struggled to score against inferior opponents like Bahrain and China. Nonetheless, in the Semifinals things turned around in both areas as they were able to score twice and have some chances but were ultimately sunk by defensive mistakes. Especially bad was the final goal of the game when Ismael Govea made a terrible mistake that allowed Japan a 1 vs 1 opportunity and basically gifted Japan the equalizer.
Coach Jaime Lozano has made some baffling decisions, including having Liga MX star keeper Sebastian Jurado on the bench for all four games for Jose Hernandez. While Jurado is seen as one of the best, if not the best goalkeeping prospect in Mexico, Hernandez has had more experience in the youth tournaments but has nowhere near the praise. Hernandez did alright, but even when he had a reputation as a good penalty stopper, in the penalty shootout he never came close to making a save.
The other big criticism has been the lack of changes made as Lozano has basically had the same starting lineup for all four games. With this being a youth tournament, it might have been reasonable that the most important thing is to see how many of these players respond, but it has been limited because of the predictability of Lozano going with the same players and making many of the same subs. Players like Ronaldo Cisneros, Cristian Calderon and Marcel Ruiz have gotten very few to no playing time, while players like Paolo Yrizar have gotten starts in every game while failing to impress.
With only two spots guaranteed for the 2020 Summer Olympics, this team has one of the toughest tasks ahead of them. A third place finish will be a boost, although an overall view of the tournament will probably have the conclusion that this team needs a lot still to grow. Unfortunately, with the Olympic qualifiers being later this year, it will seem time is on a premium and Lozano has to make decisions quickly for their next task, the 2019 Pan American games.
Date: Saturday June 15
Time: 4:00am Pacific, 6:00am Central, 7:00am Eastern
Venue: Stade de Lattre-de-Tassigny, Aubagne, France
TV: beIN SPORTS USA en Español (US-Español), beIN SPORTS USA (US-English)